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Module 3. Triggers and warning signs

This module will help you to explore:

  • different types of triggers
  • your own triggers
  • potential warning signs of sexual abuse, including grooming
  • situational and environmental risks.



'Triggers' are what precede (come before) your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and can cause emotional and behavioural responses. Alternative words for triggers include 'cues' and 'prompts'. 

  • Internal triggers means that they come from inside of you and include thoughts, feelings and attitudes linked to lifestyle problems. Examples of internal emotional triggers are feeling discontented, frustrated, bored, resentful, stressed and anxious.
  • External triggers come from outside of you and include things that can be seen or heard, like a police car with its sirens on. They can be situational and come from our daily routines, e.g. walking through the kitchen may trigger us to open the fridge; walking in the park may trigger sexual thoughts about children. They could also include drugs, medication and substance misuse.

Triggers often come at the beginning of a behavioural cycle; prompting a specific behaviour and a subsequent behaviour chain. For this reason, being aware of your triggers is essential so that you can increase your ability to stop the cycle at the earliest opportunity. 



On a piece of paper, create a table like the one below and make a list of your ‘internal’ (including emotional) and ‘external’ (including sights and sounds) triggers. It is likely that you will come up with a number of triggers; some will be unrelated and work in isolation to each other, whereas others will work in combination. 


Internal External
Lonely Walking past a school



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