“Out of every 1000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free” (RAINN). This is how 21-year-old actress, Abigail Breslin, starts off the instagram post that leads to her telling her story.
After receiving some mocking for her post about the statistics of rape, Breslin explains her own experience. Abigail Breslin briefly mentions being raped by her boyfriend before more thoroughly explaining why she did not tell anyone. She cites reasons from victim-shaming to hurting her family and friends, explaining the complexities that many overlook when it comes to sexual assault. She closes off her response to the mockery with a simple statement, “Unreported rapes count. Reported rapes count. End of story.”
However, despite Abigail’s words and the common perspective, her pain did not stop when the sexual assault stopped. In an instagram published on October 15, 2017, Breslin posts a picture of an injury on an ankle she attributes to one of her “episodes” spurred by Complex PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Breslin describes her “episodes” as moments after she has been triggered, during which she gets “freaked out and disoriented”. Dr. Christine Courtois describes Complex PTSD as “a type of trauma that occurs repeatedly and cumulatively, usually over a period of time and within specific relationships and contexts” (Psychology Today). Breslin’s scarring sexual assault experience causes her to lose control of her mind for periods of time. Abigail specifically tackles the complicated, enigmatic nature of triggers, stating “triggers are often very hard to detect”. This idea regarding triggers has gained a lot of attention, and dispute, in the mental health world. While some insist treading carefully in order to avoid triggering someone, others argue that it is irrational to force all people to be careful of what they say when anything could be a trigger.
Breslin’s post, however, shows how dangerous triggers can be, even it is not possible to pinpoint a trigger at first mention. Her honesty regarding the ambiguity but power of triggers shows how important it is to be careful and respectful of everyone. Because of her story, more people are aware of how detrimental sexual assault and domestic violence can be on one’s mental health. Long after the physical scars have healed, the mental and emotional scars continue to be devastating. It is impossible to know what someone’s triggers are, but it is also impossible to know what their story is, but that doesn’t mean you stop listening.