Why Some People Dump Their Traumas on Us

Being exposed to traumatic events such as being raped, natural disasters, accidents, and murders put people in a very tough situation. It leaves a scar on their soul forever and it usually causes shock, depression, anxiety, denial, and stress. Coping with trauma and living with this memory forever is hard.

That’s why some people resort to talking and sharing their inner feelings about it. This is, by the way, totally fine and acceptable since it may actually help the person in distress. Talking about these moments makes it less painful.

Trauma dumping vs. Venting.

As I mentioned before, it’s okay and accepted as long as it’s done in a moderate way. It’s fine as long as you talk about a situation once or twice then let it go. This is what’s called venting. On the other hand, trauma dumping refers to consistently and repeatedly talking about a certain traumatic situation.

It may not actually be the real traumatic incidents that we know such as rape, murder, death, and accidents but somehow those people find certain situations traumatic from their point of view

Once they start oversharing, this is when it becomes a problem. People who dump their traumas on others share everything about their experiences without putting into consideration the feelings of the listener. It is true that the incident did not happen to the listener but hearing it with details that they did not need to hear makes it very uncomfortable and disturbing.

When venting turns into trauma dumping.

There is a fine line between the two concepts. Trauma dumping happens when people constantly talk about what happened without giving a chance to the listener to give an opinion or a solution. The main objective of trauma dumping is to get out all the disturbing feelings and thoughts. They don’t care about a solution to their situation. What they do is they talk about it and that’s it.

However, that’s not how a relationship should work. A healthy relationship between two people should involve giving and receiving, listening, and talking. So when people at the receiving end get a chance to express their feelings too the relationship becomes annoying and unfortunately unwanted. Sometimes trauma dumping gives a secondary trauma to the listeners.

Unfortunately, trauma dumping may push people away from you because repeating yourself and talking about certain events over and over again while expecting the same level of empathy and understanding becomes very uncomfortable. This encourages them to distance themselves because they may be unsure about how to react or they may feel resentment because you are not considering how these words may negatively affect their lives.

Here are some signs of trauma dumping:

  1. Sharing the same story repeatedly
  2. Mentioning past traumas in casual conversations
  3. Not giving a chance or space to the listeners to give an opinion

Why me?

You may wonder why me? Well, sometimes being a good listener becomes a problem. People take advantage of those who are good listeners and care about others. Those who dump their trauma on you do so because they trust you and trust that you won’t get tired. However, we all get tired of always being at the receiving end of getting a chance to speak of our own problems.

It is hard to say no or refuse to hear them out because this person may be someone close to us. It may be a family member, a good friend, or a neighbor.

Being chosen means you are a good person who appreciates and cares for others but this does not mean you can let them continue this way. It’s okay to talk about it and tell them that you’re uncomfortable with them sharing these specific details and it makes your heart ache as well.

They usually dump their trauma on you to receive sympathy and compassion. Give them what they want and comfort them one or two times. If they do not stop after you express that it’s getting uncomfortable, tell them to seek professional help. There is nothing wrong with that. It might actually be very helpful to them and it will assist them in overcoming their trauma.

Trauma dumping is not the same as having post-traumatic stress disorder. There is a huge difference between the two concepts. As mentioned before, trauma dumping is done to gain sympathy and compassion from people and also to relieve pain. Some people do it with events that cannot be described as traumatic.

On the contrary, post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition where a person is left with terrible thoughts, nightmares, severe anxiety, and constant flashbacks of the incident. This happens when a person witnesses or experiences traumatic events. Post-traumatic stress disorder may start within a month after witnessing the incident.

However, sometimes it takes up to a year or even years for it to appear. A person may be just fine but get triggered by a certain situation or event that reminds them of what happened in the past. A hidden memory reappears on the surface and creates this disorder.

How do I know if I’m trauma dumping?

You know you are trauma dumping when you share too much information and overwhelm the listener without his or her consent. You may also know you are trauma dumping when you don’t let people give you feedback or solutions to your problems. Unfortunately, you may not be fully aware of what you’re doing but when you do, try to stop and think about the other person’s feelings.

How to avoid trauma dumping?

The first thing you should do when venting about your feelings is to ask for consent. Ask the person you’re going to talk to first if they have the time and energy to listen to you. If they do listen, be open about them finding solutions for your problems. These solutions may actually be helpful and may ease your pain. In addition, give them a turn to talk about themselves too, and ask them how they feel and what is going on in their life. Give them the comfort and space they gave you when listening to you.

Another helpful solution is to set a time limit for your conversation. Taking up a lot of their time will definitely drain their energy and they wouldn’t want to do this again.

Try to recall when was the last time you talked to them about the same problem. Talking about the same thing over and over again makes it boring, time-consuming, and energy draining.

Finally, think about what you can say and what you can’t. Filter your words and choose suitable words to describe your feelings. If your trauma is very hard to handle, think about the person and whether or not they can also handle what they’re going to hear.

If talking with people around you did not help ease your pain then you should seek professional help. It is always a good solution to all our problems.

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