Monday, January 20, 2014

Working at a Sex Shop & Navigating My Triggers


I work at a sex shop & absolutely love it. My main job is to educate customers, who are polite & respectful 99% of the time. My co-workers & boss are great and we all share the work without any problems. This is the best job I’ve ever had.

A trigger is a thing, however seemingly minute, that brings a person back mentally to a previous, traumatic experience.  They are often considered symptoms of PTSD, whether from warfare or rape or terrible abuse.  My triggers stem from rape that happened when I was 4-16. It wasn’t until 2010 that i realized exactly what had happened to me (I’m 28 to give you an idea of time). A dark few months passed during which I sought help & recovered. I’m very high functioning today & can pull myself out of the lows that pop up occasionally.

My triggers are easily avoided; I’m very clear about them with my sexual partners, who respect them. But every now and then something at work will start to trigger me: covers of certain porns that fetishize what I went through. Mainstream porn is problematic for more objective reasons, which I won’t tackle right now, and I don’t think any less of the people who enjoy those porns. It isn’t the fault of the porn, of the customers, of my job, nor of myself that I work with my triggers.  I shouldn’t have them to work around, but I can do it.  Sometimes there are parts of the shop that I just won’t go by on bad days. Sometimes I need to go outside and breathe a bit.  This heightened sensitivity is usually brought about either by an attempted contact from my rapist, from a nightmare, or something else unrelated to work.  I have worked on healthy habits to shorten these periods.

Although I’ve known many people who’ve had similar jobs, encountering triggers in the workplace isn’t a topic I’ve ever found. I haven’t brought this up at work largely because it’s not a big enough problem & I want to stay professional. I do want my experience known, nevertheless, for those who might worry that something is wrong with them for having similar triggers. I’m not alone in my experience, and I think it’s important to discuss.  There are resources for rape survivors, abuse survivors, and people who have triggers (contact me if you have questions!!), but I have yet to find any for sex workers and educators?

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