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Signs That Someone is Trauma Dumping On You

The lines between reaching out for help and trauma dumping are often very blurry. How do you decide when sharing becomes venting and when venting becomes trauma dumping? It’s not very easy to decide, nor is it easy to be on the receiving end. 

What is Trauma Dumping?

Trauma dumping, according to psychotherapist Gina Moffa, is when someone makes their painful experiences and trauma the point of their conversations, to the point that self-reflection or accountability is no longer the aim.

The difference between trauma dumping and venting, she says, is that with venting, people are aware they are expressing pent-up emotions, while trauma dumping usually serves to seek sympathy from others. 

It is less of a mutual interaction and more about one person fulfilling their emotional needs without considering the other person’s well-being (Wickremasinghe, 2021). 

In fact, trauma dumping can be so emotionally heavy that it can activate the fight or flight response in the listener due to how pressured it is. This is because of the level of stress placed on you, as the listener, that makes you instinctively want to leave the conversation as soon as possible.

How Do You Know Someone is Trauma Dumping?

Being on the receiving end of trauma dumping can be exhausting to deal with and can even put your own mental health at risk. It’s not as easy to identify, especially since the lines are blurry, but knowing the signs can help you figure out if you are being trauma dumped on.

If you feel like someone is constantly bringing back the same issue over and over again, even when the topic isn’t relevant and the conversation is just one-sided, it may be trauma dumping. Seeking help about a specific issue in an interactive conversation is different, especially if the issue is an ongoing one. But if the other person is not seeking a solution but simply bringing up the topic, they may be trauma dumping on you. 

The main signs of trauma dumping are: 

● Bringing back the same topic very frequently, even when not relevant

● Being resistant to others’ input, feedback or solutions

● Ignoring the feelings of the listener

● One-sided conversations that are controlled by the speaker

● Can occur in inappropriate situations

● Disclosure is very sudden and happens in large chunks at once rather than gradually.

It is important to remember, however, that trauma dumping is often not done maliciously, even though it can be toxic. In most cases, it is a trauma response in itself. 

If someone is trauma dumping, they are most likely going to benefit from getting therapy or professional help so that they are able to learn how to deal with their troubles and also sort out any other issues that may be causing them to trauma dump – such as depression or anxiety.

Rebuking someone for trauma dumping is, therefore, not the best course of action. While you should still place your boundaries and be firm about them, it’s better to redirect the other person to a source of help rather than shutting them out entirely.

References

Wickremasinghe, D. (November 26, 2021). Why Some People Dump their Trauma on Us. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/spellbound/202111/why-some-people-dump-their-traumas-us