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Although it’s been years since the abuse, her best friend still sometimes meets people on dating apps or in social situations who look or sound like her abuser.When she’s triggered, Wren says she’s gotten calls from a bathroom stall at a restaurant, and come to get her.“Whatever she needs, I'll drop everything however much I can to make sure she know her feelings and concerns and memories are valid, and real,” Wren says.“Some people want advice or insight on what they’re feeling or doing. Others still may not want to talk about it, and may just want a friend to take their mind off it,” Samantha says.Many survivors may have triggers due to anxiety, depression, PTSD, or trauma in general, but not everything that upsets someone is a trigger.Lindsay Gerber, Psy D, Licensed Clinical Psychologist at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, is to recognize when we are engaging in catastrophic thinking. Gerber says that one tip she encourages her patients to use is to ask themselves, “What would you tell your best friend if he/she/they were in this situation?
There’s a distinction between being supportive and smothering a survivor with attention.
Stefani Goerlich, LCSW, a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, says that one of her favorite techniques to combat trauma responses is called the 5-4-3-2-1.
The exercise entails looking for five things you can see in the area around you, things as simple as ‘I see a leaf on the ground.’ Then, you identify four things you can touch, listen for three things you can hear in the outside world, two things you can smell, and one positive affirmation for yourself.
“These small acts of physical touch could be so triggering, and that level of control that he allows me to have is beyond helpful.”Some survivors may know and ask for those specific things you can do to help them.
Wren, a 24-year-old woman, has experience with helping her best friend from high school cope with the trauma of an abusive relationship.