Friday, October 25, 2013

Dear Amnesty International: Images Can Trigger PTSD

Someone brought a new-ish ad campaign to my attention.  This series of ads were put up by Amnesty International, luckily for me, they appear to only be in Switzerland, where the group is based.

I will not share the pictures for the simple fact of why I am upset about the campaign:

These photos were done in a wonderful way to be realistic.  Which means they are violent and graphic. And many of them depict things that are meant to show war crimes happening around the world. And while I understand the desire to create an intense emotional response from people to further your cause, I have to wonder why no one seems to be concerned about the well being of those who might see them.

Luckily, they don't seem to be anywhere else in the world, for instance, in the US.  If they were, there would be a significantly larger outcry I'm sure.  I saw them being shared on FB, and when my friend attempted to voice her concerned about people like my husband, who suffer from PTSD, and how these images are sure to trigger Vets due to the violence, she was met with a few who backed her.  Sadly, more people were adamant that the images were necessary and that not using such violence to sell the point was the problem with the world.  These people accused her of being apathetic and said that she needed to "wake up."

It was sad to me.  She was simply trying to point out that those images could cause harm.  And while I'm sure there are many who supported her (I am one), it is a shame to me that people seemed so wholly unconcerned with the well being of those who might see the ads and their families who will be the ones who pick up the pieces when an unsuspecting husband or brother goes to catch the bus one morning and is triggered by the violent image of a POW camp, a child who appears to be being carried to safety after a massive trauma, and someone else being beaten with a bag over their head by a guard.

These are images that can and will easily trigger PTSD issues.  And with Facebook's recent decision to change it's policy on violent and graphic images, it is something I am seeing happen, and hearing is happening, more and more.

So many groups are out there to remind people on September 11th, on Memorial Day, and many other days of rememberance that PTSD sufferers are trigger by images so please think about what you are posting.  But what about on a random Wednesday?  Who is there to remind the public that today, a day that has no special meaning, their photo in support of Amnesty Internationals shock campaign triggered someone's husband and she is now talking him down?

And when a voice of reason, simply asking, "isn't there a better way to make a point?" is met with harsh criticism, I am disheartened.

I didn't show the pictures to my husband, but I told him about it.  I told him about the campaign and how upset I was for the Vets and children who might be affected.  For the first time in a long time, I saw him get sad.  He grew quiet.  Then he looked at me and said:

"Those aren't images for small children.  Children should never have to see that.  There are people in this world, who do what they do, who go through what they go through, so that the children and people of this nation DON'T HAVE TO SEE THAT.  We do what we do, to protect our nation from the horrors we see.  We see them and can't unsee them, so that our nation can live in peace, never burdened with that knowledge."

He talked to me about how horrible he thinks it is that no one seems to think that it's important to protect children from images like that.  He discussed the issues related to children who suffer from PTSD due to the war torn nations they grew up in.  He asked me what would happen to them when they grow up and are managing the best they can, only to have to sit next to a picture of the most horrific part of their life just to catch the bus to work.

It broke my heart to have his ask me.  It made me angry to think that he sees what he does that way.  He sees his job as a means of protecting our nation and specifically our nations children from images like that.  He sees what he has been through and what he lives with as an acceptable sacrifice.

I get what Amnesty International is trying to do.  I understand that it is easy for people to go about their life and not think about the tragedies that are happening all around the world.  We wake up, drink our coffee and go to work never thinking much about some of the places in this world where people never feel safe.  But people who live with someone who has PTSD don't have that problem.

We know what the aftermath looks like.  We know what the fight looks like.  We live it everyday.

And I don't think it's too much to ask to simply think before you post something.  I don't think it was unreasonable for my friend, who knows what I live everyday, to speak up on behalf of those who might be deeply affected by these images.



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1 comment:

Valerie Nemeth said...

I have a question I wondered what about the AMBASSADORS and CONSULS who go through what they go through overseas to hopefully guard anyone who happened to be "locked up abroad," sometimes justifiably and sometimes unjustifiably against any FIRST HAND experience of a horror such as TORTURE???????????????????????

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