What is Trauma Dumping And Why it Can be Toxic?
Yes, sharing our feelings, experiences, and worries with our loved ones can help us process difficult emotions but what happens when sharing turns into oversharing?
When does venting about our experiences become trauma dumping?
We all know that one person who constantly shares their problems without pausing to consider how we are feeling or how their sharing might be affecting us. And sometimes, a normal conversation about relationships will turn into hour-long discussions about childhood trauma or toxic upbringing.
The problem doesn’t lie in talking about trauma, it is a serious problem when sensitive experiences are shared in an unsolicited way, in an inappropriate place, and to the person who may not be open to hearing the experiences.
While the term “Trauma dumping” is becoming more and more popular, thanks to TikTok, what does this term really mean? What causes this behavior? Let’s take a look!
What Is Trauma Dumping?
Trauma dumping, unlike venting, is usually unsolicited where a person “dumps” their traumatic feelings, thoughts, and experiences onto another person who may not be prepared for it. Trauma dumping is not limited to face-to-face interactions.
We have so many thoughts, irritation, anger, all bottled up inside, and to find a place to vent such feelings, we often unconsciously resort to trauma dumping.
Some people may feel that sharing their traumatic experiences with a close friend, family member, or colleague might be safe but they may not always understand the severity of what they are sharing.
When someone experiences trauma, they may compartmentalize from the said trauma to protect themselves. This can become confusing as people may speak about their trauma in the same manner as they would do with venting.
While trauma dumping isn’t abuse, there is still a very thin line between venting, oversharing, and trauma dumping. The purpose of trauma dumping is to request sympathy. When you vent, you are aware of what you’re expressing i.e., bottled up emotions, and that venting is a one-time thing.
Trauma Dumping vs Healthy Venting
|Trauma dumping can be toxic and can even overwhelm others||Venting is a healthier way to express emotions, feelings, and experiences|
|Can be defined as unaware dumping of experiences that can affect others’ mental health||Is a process where you are aware of what you’re expressing|
|Can be repetitive||Is a one-time thing|
|Emotional dumping does not allow the other person to share their problems, experiences, and hardships||Venting is about having a mutual expression of feelings and experiences with the other person|
|Does not leave room for finding a solution to the problems||Allows sharing solutions to problems and hardships|
The Role Of Social Media In Trauma Dumping
Social media may be considered a safe platform to share experiences you may not be comfortable sharing in person. With social media’s reach, it can make it more likely that you’ll get validation, different opinions to reframe your thought process, and a sample audience to test how others are reacting to your story before you share it with your loved ones.
Also, with the trauma brought on by the pandemic, social media has opened up many opportunities to spend more time talking and reaching out to others with similar traumatic experiences.
Why Does Trauma Dumping Push People Away?
Sharing traumatic experiences can help when done in a safe space but trauma dumping is not helpful, especially as trauma dumping is done to gain others’ sympathy or attention.
You have to be careful that you are not sharing information while looking for people to respond with the same sympathy and concern over and over again. Doing this can cause others to create distance between you and them.
Others may feel:
- Uncomfortable with listening to details about your trauma
- Unsure of how to respond appropriately
- Resentment toward you for not realizing how your experiences are affecting them
People who trauma dump are usually wanting to feel heard or validated but also isolate themselves because they dump on others without being aware of their actions.
Signs You Might Be A Trauma Dumper
If your sharing is pushing people away and if you’re not sure if it’s trauma dumping or not, look out for these signs:
- You vent about the same feelings repeatedly. You do not reframe, cope, or move on
- You don’t let others present their opinions or views on your experience
- You find yourself in one-way relationships where you vent to others but fail to hear their experiences
- You fail to ask others about their lives or give them a space to ask you for advice
Once you recognize the signs and understand the consequences your actions can have on your mental health as well as social health, you can reach out to a professional or someone who is equipped to discuss your trauma. Trauma therapy is one of the most effective treatments when it comes to treating trauma-related conditions.
However, before you contact a professional, you can ask what is your goal or motivation for sharing your trauma with them. You can start the conversation with statements such as:
“I’ve been through something hard for me to deal with and may be hard for you to listen to. Are you in a place where I can talk to you about my experiences at this moment?”
Psychologists say that learning about different trauma support and trauma therapy including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and individual or group trauma therapy supervised by a mental health professional can help.
You can also practice mindfulness and grounding exercises to help process your trauma. Activities such as journaling or letter-writing can also help your brain to process your trauma in a different yet helpful way.
How To Respond To Trauma Dumping?
If you’re someone you’ve been getting dumped on, you can try validating the other person’s feelings and express empathy but tell them that you don’t feel comfortable with being in this conversation. You can offer them help and redirect them to a professional or someone who is equipped to deal with trauma dump.
Stressing out your loved ones, friends (online and offline) is not a replacement for professional help. If you’re struggling with dealing with a traumatic experience, it is recommended you speak to a professional.
A mental health professional can help, with trama therapy, can help guide you through your experience and offer you a place where you can safely reflect on your experience and gain empowerment over your life.
How to Stop Trauma Dumping?
If you’ve been intentionally or unintentionally been trauma dumping, then recognizing the signs that you are a trauma dumper is the first step. Once you’re past that stage, it can be easy to stop your unhealthy and toxic venting.
Next, you can connect with a professional therapist who can help you and give you a safe, non-judgmental space to talk about your trauma and experiences. If your trauma is accompanied by other conditions such as anxiety or depression, then therapy can help you find solutions for that too.
Then, you can sit with yourself and think about your relationship with others and how setting boundaries can help – both you and the other person in the relationship. This could mean only talking about certain topics and avoiding other topics. It could also mean talking to only a handful of trusted people about your trauma and experiences. If you’re choosing to talk to only a handful of people, then you may also want to make sure that you check in with them first if they are open to hearing your venting.
If your friends or family members are withdrawing from you because of your emotional dumping, then you can take responsibility and work on improving your mental health. You can do it by either reaching out for professional help or setting healthy boundaries in your relationships.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1: What does trauma dumping look like?
In simple terms, trauma dumping means unloading all your trauma and related experiences onto another person who may not be ready to hear all about it. Trauma dumping can be commonly mistaken for emotional dumping or venting.
Q2: Is trauma dumping manipulative?
Trauma dumping can also mean toxic oversharing and can be manipulative and abusive. While one can feel better “trauma dumping” over social media, it can also cause some negative impacts. Other coping mechanisms can protect your mental health and online friendships.
Q3: How do you deal with trauma dumping?
If you’re the one dealing with a trauma dumper then you can try to validate their experiences, be empathetic but also let them know that you’re not comfortable being a part of the conversation. You can always offer them help, suggest trauma therapy, and guide them towards the right help.
Q4: What does emotional dumping mean?
Emotional dumping is when you unconsciously share your feelings and thoughts without being aware of either your or others’ emotional needs. Emotional dumping can be toxic and usually does not involve the consent of the other person.
Q5: What is the difference between venting and dumping?
While both the terms “dumping” and “venting” may commonly be used interchangeably, there are few differences between them. Dumping is toxic while venting can mean letting out your feelings and thoughts 0 good or bad. While one can walk away emotionally unharmed from venting, dumping may not offer the same relief.
There is a big difference between trauma dumping and venting and while sharing your experiences with others can be helpful, oversharing your trauma can push people away if you’re not careful about what, how, and with whom you’re sharing.
If you’re experiencing difficulty in processing your trauma, it is recommended that you seek a professional’s help immediately. You can connect with one of many licensed therapists on BetterHelp.
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