Please stop trauma dumping: Our own problems are hard enough

Elsa Block

It is common to hear people venting to their friends throughout the school day, complaining about their excessive homework or friend drama. While seemingly harmless, these conversations can pivot into much deeper topics, segueing from gossip to the details of a recent suicide attempt – moving from harmless to harmful in a matter of minutes. 

Trauma dumping is the oversharing of traumatic thoughts and emotions with others. People who partake in trauma dumping often share triggering stories during inappropriate times, usually unsolicited. While it can be helpful for some to get their issues off their chests, trauma dumping is a harmful habit.

Many people trauma dump without realizing it, as trauma can often come up naturally. Psychiatrist and author Judith Orloff says that victims use trauma dumping as a coping mechanism. 

“It’s usually unconscious anxiety that they’re venting and just start dumping onto another person as a way to release the energy and frustration, and getting that out can seemingly help a victim of some sort of trauma,” Orloff said. 

While trauma dumping is often done without intentions of harm, it typically can cause more trouble than good. PsychCentral notes that those on the receiving end of trauma dumping can feel drained, frustrated, angry or taken advantage of when constantly hearing other people’s problems. Other people’s problems may begin to feel like their own and it can become especially draining to have to carry other people’s experiences on top of that. Not only can this be anxiety-inducing, but it can also be triggering. According to a May Bark survey, 46 percent of Redwood students are bothered by trauma dumping, revealing that the habit affects many students.

Illustration by Calla McBride

On the other hand, it is important to note that bottling in problems is another incredibly damaging habit. By doing so, there is a chance that psychological issues can be provoked, causing mental harm. Often, many who trauma dump just need someone to listen to them. However, there are many other ways to express issues, so venting needs to be done in a way where the other person is open and comfortable with hearing about their problems. 

If you are going through any issues, big or small, Redwood has many resources available for students to use. The Wellness Center and counseling department work together to provide support systems for students. The Wellness Center provides free, confidential support for a wide variety of issues students may face and is a great resource for students to understand their problems and experiences. Peer Resource is another available option that educates students on topics related to inclusivity, wellness, mental and sexual health and substance use. All of these resources are available throughout the school day and on the Redwood website.