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Triggers: 1in6 Thursdays on the Joyful Heart Foundation Blog

When I began to cope with my childhood molestation, the word trigger was a new concept for me.

As I learned, triggers can be internal or external, but they’re reminders of unresolved emotional issues. We often say that something happens to bring about what we call the knee-jerk reaction to negative experiences that haunt us.

triggers can be internal or external, but they’re reminders of unresolved emotional issues

Years before I got in touch with my abuse, one thing startled me, and I now see it as a trigger.

I’m one of those individuals who would eat anything and never said, “I don’t like . . .” A group of my co-workers and I had breakfast together in a home, and someone passed me a large jar of raspberry preserves.

I hurriedly handed it to my wife. “I don’t like raspberry preserves.”

Shirley stared at me. “But, honey, you like everything.”

I shook my head, and just staring at the jar nauseated me.

Years later, I understood. Mr. Lee enticed me to come into his room by offering me raspberry jam on saltines.

All of us survivors probably have triggers—even now—little things, ordinary events, or words.

Another trigger for me was the word special. When anyone said I was special, I became angry, but I couldn’t figure out the reason. Until later.

Mr. Lee used that word several times as he started patting my head and fondling me.

I rarely have those triggers disrupt my life today, but when I have a negative response to a neutral act, it says I still have unresolved issues. And by recognizing them, I can find healing.

Triggers alert me to the still unhealed parts of myself.

By Cecil Murphey

Cecil Murphey ImageCecil Murphey wrote, When a Man You Love Was Abused and Not Quite Healed with survivor Gary Roe. Murphey is the author or coauthor of 137 books including international best sellers, 90 Minutes in Heaven and Gifted Hands: the Ben Carson Story. His latest book is Stolen: The True Story of a Sex Trafficking Survivor, written with Katariina Rosenblatt. His twice-weekly blog is

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