Manage Triggers After Verbal Abuse: Stop, Drop, and Roll

June 9, 2022 Cheryl Wozny

One of the most challenging aspects of being a victim of verbal abuse is managing your triggers. As I progress through my healing journey, I am slowly learning how to handle these situations better than before. The most crucial element for me is to remember to avoid falling automatically into a reactive mode when this occurs. 

Triggers from Verbal Abuse Cause Neurological Fires

Many of us can remember the stop, drop, and roll techniques we learned in elementary school when dealing with fires. However, this approach can also apply to triggers that spike anxiety levels in your body. As I explore different ways to deal with my triggers, I am continuously open to trying new methods for calming stressors in my life. 

Here is how I deal with triggers when I face similar circumstances that cause me anxiety or stress or bring back old memories which arise throughout my daily activities. I take the attitude that the triggering situation metaphorically sets me on fire, which needs immediate action on my part. 

Stop Everything

I stop what I am doing immediately and recognize the immediate danger. Although I am no longer in realistic danger, my body and mind believe that similar circumstances will create a harmful situation. Therefore, I have to stop my mind from jumping into a reactive mode. 

I acknowledge that a specific event or person brought out a familiar feeling that is not helpful for me. Instead of avoiding or ignoring the trigger, I embrace the idea that I can now recognize stressors before they turn into anxiety-fueled situations. This step gives me control over my emotions and how I react to them now and in the future. 

Drop It 

I need to theoretically drop the situation or circumstances that trigger my anxiety from past experiences. For example, if I am on a phone call, I end the call. If I read a triggering text message or email, I walk away from my computer or phone. I need to stop the action that is causing me stress since that is an element that I have complete control over.  

I am entirely responsible for dropping harmful situations that may cause me pain and anxiety in my life. If I do not drop the theoretical fireball, it will spread and take over my entire self, making it harder to control later. 

Roll Away 

The next crucial step in handling my triggers is how I roll away from triggering situations. Lately, I have taken to meditating more when I face stressors. Just last week, I received a highly triggering email that brought back many old emotions.

At that time, I knew that I would not be productive at work or any other activity until I could control my emotions. So, once I recognized how much anxiety this message caused, I walked away from my computer and spent the next 20 minutes on my back deck in the sunshine, meditating until my mind was calm enough to return to work. 

Acknowledging and Accepting Triggers from Verbal Abuse

It can be challenging to move through your healing journey if you are not acknowledging and accepting the triggers that can cause you to spiral. Instead of fearing them, learn how to spot them and tackle them effectively. This approach could be the best approach for moving forward. 

APA Reference
Wozny, C. (2022, June 9). Manage Triggers After Verbal Abuse: Stop, Drop, and Roll, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 19 from

Author: Cheryl Wozny

Cheryl Wozny is a freelance writer and published author of several books, including a mental health resource for children, titled Why Is My Mommy So Sad? Writing has become her way of healing and helping others. Find Cheryl on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and on her blog

June, 12 2022 at 8:36 am

What would you recommend if you have a job where you can’t always escape the verbal abuse? I am responsible for people’s health and well-being as a nurse and I am not always permitted to leave the person abusing me. Any advice?

June, 13 2022 at 12:48 pm

Hello Annie, I am Cheryl Wozny, author of the Verbal Abuse in Relationships blog here at HealthyPlace. First, I wanted to thank you for taking on a nursing position where you can aid in others' health and well-being, it is a commendable profession that does not get enough recognition.
However, I am sure you face your fair share of individuals who are reluctant to care or medication or have conflicting ideas which can lead to verbal abuse. I understand that there may be situations where you cannot leave a patient that requires care but is exhibiting abusive behavior. Knowing some nurses myself, I know they work long hours, are short-staffed, and cannot escape these situations when they arise.
I encourage you to reach out to co-workers and supervisors on-site when you face a verbally abusive situation. Sometimes a helping hand from someone outside of the dynamic can help diffuse the problem. I always try to remember that verbal abuse from strangers is not personal and it is coming from a place of hurt and anger that I do not know. Mentally separating myself from verbal abuse from strangers helps me remember that it is not because of me or my actions that they are abusive.
Please check out our Resources page… for information on finding help in your area to deal with verbal abuse and other mental health situations that you face daily. Be well.

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