We’ve all vented to a friend from time to time. Whether it is to get something off your chest or to receive some sort of advice and guidance. This is a normal part of relationships.
What we shouldn’t be doing is dumping our trauma and emotions on someone who unwittingly ends up on the receiving end of it. This can be harmful not only for the person who is being trauma ‘dumped’ on, but for the one who is traumatized, too, as it can cause a rift in relationships.
Trauma is also an emotional response after going through a horrific or horrible event in our lives. This could be surviving a natural disaster, losing a loved one, surviving assault or rape, or another form of abuse.
When someone suffers from trauma, they may also have PTSD, flashbacks, panic attacks, strained relationships and friendships as they struggle to move on from the traumatic experience.
So, what exactly is trauma dumping, and why is it harmful?
What Is Trauma Dumping?
Trauma dumping can be categorized as over-sharing traumatic experiences without prior permission or warning, in an inappropriate manner or place and time, to someone who may not feel comfortable with it or know how to process that information.
The issue is not sharing or speaking about a personal tragedy with another. The problem lies within sharing that information unsolicited to someone who is unprepared.
How Can Trauma Dumping Be Harmful?
Trauma dumping is often done in order for the one traumatized to receive some sort of support, sympathy, or validation from the one listening. However, trauma dumping often happens without permission or warning, which can have a negative and toxic effect on the relationship between the two people.
When someone trauma dumps, they may leave the other person feeling deeply uncomfortable after hearing traumatic personal information, which leaves them without the tools or knowledge of how to respond. Without permission or warning to trauma dump, the ‘dumper’ may also accidentally trigger the listener’s own experiences of trauma.
While talking about things can be beneficial for individuals, venting or dumping is not a therapeutic experience, and all parties involved can feel uncomfortable about it.
The one who is on the receiving end of the trauma dumping can feel emotionally drained, taxed, and can suffer from secondary trauma, leaving them feeling nervous, anxious, and helpless after the dumping has taken place. Trauma dumping can, therefore, leave everyone feeling more distressed than before.
How to Tell If You Are Trauma Dumping
So, now we know that trauma dumping can be very harmful for those around us. But how do we know if we are dumping trauma unintentionally? Well, a common sign is when you repeatedly vent to others about the same thing or the same feelings and emotions.
You may not be allowing others to share their opinion on it, or their own view of the experience, and you will not allow anyone to help you cope or change your view of the experience.
Trauma dumping can also be described as intense over-sharing, so if you feel that you often over-share about your experiences without a filter, or without regulating your own emotions, you could be trauma dumping on others.
Friendships should be primarily about having fun, not dumping on each other and trying to solve each other’s problems. Trauma dumping can ruin your friendships. If you need to unload, unpack and understand your trauma, it is far more beneficial to speak to someone who is trained to deal with trauma: a licensed therapist or counselor for help. You want to go to the right person for the help you need. Contact me to learn more about anxiety therapy. Then you can go back to enjoying your friends and letting them enjoy you!