A topic that has been showing up far too often in the media recently is sexual misconduct. It can be encouraging and hopeful to hear of so many people having the courage to come forward with stories of their assaults.
With more reports, however, comes the inability to avoid how much of an issue sexual violence is in our society. Unfortunately, there are always going to be people who may doubt and delegitimize the stories of survivors. This can be seen in overt ways like crude comments and questions of validity, or in more obscure ways, like asking why a person waited to share their story.
With the courageous stories we heard in the past few weeks in reference to the accusations made against Brett Kavanagh by Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, emotions have been high. Watching Ford stand up against everyone who doubted her story and her credibility was both inspiring and disheartening. Ford held her composure through the intense questioning raised against her. Through her story, every survivor could see themselves, their assailant and their worst nightmare come to life.
Media coverage throughout the Kavanaugh hearings steadily fed us stories focusing on every aspect of the trial. It seemed as though no matter what channel you flipped to, you could not escape the stress and anxiety that comes with watching some members of the Senate endlessly question Ford on her memories of that night, on why she waited to tell anyone and every minute detail about her assault. The resulting physical and mental emotions that come as a response to the hearings is what is known as triggering.
There has been a recent stigma against the idea of triggering, but it is important to recognize that it is highly prevalent. Feeling triggered is a legitimate, valid reaction. Every person has their own personal triggers and some people may not have any. It is important that as much respect as possible is given to those who may react to certain stimuli. Throughout the hearing, social media was flooded with individuals stating that some of the things said during the Kavanagh trial were extremely triggering.
If you encounter something that you find to be triggering, it is important that you take care of yourself. This may be in the form of logging off social media for the night, going to the gym or whatever helps you personally. No matter what it is that you decide to do, ensure that you put yourself first. Your overall well-being and sense of self should be your greatest priority.
It’s On Us TU will remain committed to preventing and addressing issues of sexual misconduct both on and off campus. We hope to eventually change the culture surrounding sexual violence and will continue to serve as a resource for the community. It stops with us.
Shira Freiman, a junior psychology and criminal justice major, is the president of It’s On Us TU and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Katherine Desrochers, a junior strategic communications and political science major, is the vice president of It’s On Us TU and can be reached at email@example.com.