One of the most exhausting and frustrating questions for me, for my brother and for other trauma survivors I’ve talked to is “How did it happen?”
That is none of your fucking business.
If you weren’t there, if it wasn’t your experience, not only will you not understand, but I don’t owe it to you to explain it to you. I don’t owe you answers. I don’t owe you an explanation. I don’t want to relive it. I don’t want to repeat it over and over and over again. I don’t want the constant reminder. I don’t want to hear what you think about it. I don’t want to hear you ask if it could have been prevented. I certainly don’t want to hear you state with authority that it could have gone differently. I may not even have processed the answer. Sometimes it takes time and a lot of pain to do that.
None of that helps me. Not a single fucking bit.
Beyond the personal side, trauma often involves legal action or investigation. Asking how it happened potentially exposes me or whoever I need to protect to legal issues that I am better off not having to face. Not only do I not necessarily want to share that information with you, I don’t know that you won’t share it with someone who will hurt me with the information.
This is not about you and your desire to know. This is about the person at the center of the trauma and making sure that your ignorance doesn’t compromise or damage them further.
Don’t ask how it happened. If we want to tell you, we will. We tell our stories to the extent we can, we want to or we have the emotional energy to. Or we don’t. Trauma was not a choice for us, telling you is, and don’t ask us to make that choice. Ask us how we feel, ask us if you can help, but don’t fucking ask us how it happened.