A trauma trigger is an experience that triggers a traumatic memory in someone who has experienced trauma. A trigger is thus a troubling reminder of a traumatic event or represed memory, although the trigger itself need not be frightening or traumatic.
Triggers can be quite diverse, appearing in the form of individual people, images, Logos, symbols, places, noises, smells, tastes, emotions, animals, films, weather conditions, time factors, or combinations thereof. Memory triggers can be subtle and difficult to anticipate, and can sometimes exacerbate post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition in which trauma survivors cannot control the recurrence of emotional or physical symptoms, or of repressed memory.
Film and other visual media represent an especially powerful form of memory trigger. Because of the realistic portrayal of graphic violence in visual media, trauma survivors may encounter life-like trauma triggers while watching movies or television. Because trigger scenes can be difficult to anticipate they can be difficult for a trauma survivor to avoid; by the time the viewer is aware of the content of the scene, a traumatic memory may already be triggered.