Tik Tok has been at the centre of many trends. Like the frothy coffee at the start of the lockdown to new words becoming part of our dialect. One of the newest ones is trauma dumping. Now, if you’ve read ‘trauma dumping.’ and needed to do a double-take. Don’t worry! I did too.
If you haven’t clicked off, I will explain what trauma dumping is, how to combat it, and how it misses the mark on a couple of things.
What is trauma dumping?
Trauma dumping is where you talk about your trauma to strangers and your friends unsolicitedly on the internet. And, in some cases, cause them distress as well. In which you should talk to a licensed therapist instead.
When did it become popular, and how?
The term has been on the internet for ages, particularly on TikTok. However, if you spoke to the everyday person about it, they wouldn’t care. Nor would they even know what the term was. However, Illene Glance decided to post a TikTok. Which moaned about clients who ‘trauma dumped in the first session.’ The term trauma dumping became more widespread. Because of the backlash of said TikTok because you cannot trauma dump on a psychologist. It made a lot of people upset due to spreading false information and worries over client confidentiality.
How to cope with trauma dumping
If you have a friend whose trauma dumps on you and makes you feel stressed out too, or your social media feed is full of traumatic stories you didn’t ask for in response. Then there are many ways to deal with it.
If it has affected you, do whatever wellbeing practises you usually do to stop others’ dumping from affecting you so much.
If someone you know trauma dumps on you a lot and you can’t take it. Because your mental health is on the decline, then you can say to someone, ‘can we talk about this another day.’ or ‘I hope it gets better, but please talk to someone else about it.’
If you’re on social media and people regularly trauma dump on you. Try turning off the comments until you’re in a better place to read them. Alternatively, you can restrict comments to being accepted before posting, which can negate what pops up.
Criticism of the term.
While trauma dumping is excellent at making us realign how we interact with others on social media, it misses some critical things around friendship and separating trauma dumping from figuring things out. Or getting help with friends—or talking about trauma in a non ‘dumping’ way.
For example, in conversation with someone, you can mention something traumatic or typically tense, and you can bond over the trauma. (Now I know what you are going to say. Technically the bonding is the permission) however, to avoid trauma dumping, you expressly ask for permission.
Different ways of talking
There are different ways of talking about trauma. For example, you talk about something traumatic with friends, but you don’t go as deep as a psychologist. So it’s not a form of ‘proper trauma dumping.’ However, because it’s a form of trauma and you haven’t asked permission, it’s still a form of it. Yet, it’s not as evil as the typical form in the definition.
Also, there are times where you can’t or don’t have time to ask permission. On top of that, humans don’t ask for consent for every single traumatic thing. Don’t get me wrong. It would be brilliant if life and communication worked like that. But it will take time, and sometimes it never happens.
Another thing that worries me is that the term and its generalised use for talking about something traumatic with people we care about. And how it will impact how much we open up to people. And so, because we’re asking for permission, it delays how we open up about stuff or could completely stop us from talking about it altogether! Because a friend could manipulate the term to isolate you, you don’t get the comfort you need.
The negative connotation behind the word dumping could also make us question our feelings, which makes us hide them.
Plus, there is a more straightforward way of not talking about things without the need for permission. And that’s straight-up saying no or preemptively saying no. And if the person doesn’t respect that, you stop talking or realise much that they don’t respect you. It sets the bounds earlier, and you can be blunter with it.
Ultimately trauma dumping is excellent for changing how we think about our interactions and how we deal with trauma, which we all need to be aware of. But don’t inherently think you can’t reach out to people.
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