Trigger warnings alert those who've endured trauma to content that may cause unpleasant memories and feelings to resurface, according to The New York Times.
Yet, there's a been a lot of pushback against them. Roxane Gay dedicated a chapter of "Bad Feminist" to grappling with the usefulness of them while the University of Chicago banned them altogether. The push-and-pull over the effectiveness of trigger warnings reveals a few crucial oversights though: Many people are unsure of what they are, how they work, and why they're necessary.
Cartoonist and illustrator Madeleine Slade wanted to bridge this understanding gap.
"I think the biggest argument that opponents use against trigger warnings is that they are a form of censorship that will suppress freedom of speech. However, that's factually untrue," Slade told Revelist. "Trigger warnings don't mean the material is unavailable — they allow individuals to choose to avoid material that might trigger a panic attack or a flashback without keeping anyone else away from the material. The cool thing about them is that they deliberately do not censor the material itself."
So, Slade created a powerful comic that explains why triggers warnings are so important.
"With such high statistics of sexual assault on college campuses and constant news of police brutality towards black and indigenous people, we need to recognize that trauma is a real thing," they said. "It's important that we are having a discussion about how to accommodate people struggling with mental health. I don't want that conversation to get squashed because people are scared of talking about emotions."
Here's their quick guide on what trigger warnings are — and how they help survivors of traumatic violence.
It's that simple.
Trigger warnings are all about emotional and mental safety.
"Within the queer community, there are people who've gone through conversion therapy or have been bullied at school or kicked out of the house for being trans. So trigger warnings can be useful in helping individual LGBT people have agency over their own traumatic experiences," they said. "Trigger warnings can also help the community as a whole to point out that there's still a lot of messed up stuff happening to queer people — it's not all perfect just cause marriage equality happened."
Those who've survived trauma deserve them.