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What is "Pink Clouding"?

One thing that tends to be confusing to the general public is the many different behaviors and emotions that survivors tend to go through. These behaviors and emotions can pop up either immediately following their victimization, or when going through their healing process. We tend to run the gammit of behaviors and emotions, most of which are incredibly complicated and even confusing for us to understand. One of these baffling behaviors is the phenomenon called "pink clouding."

Pink clouding is when a survivor analyzes what happened to him/her by basically pretending that their victimization never happened. Some may drastically change their appearance, stating that they "wanted a change," or in some instances they will completely empty out their homes to the bare essentials, with little to no reminders of what their lives were before their victimization, like removing photos of family and friends. Have you ever heard a survivor say "What happened, happened," or "It is what it is and I can't change what happened in the past, so I'm choosing not to think about it." News flash folks: this is not a strong spirited survivor choosing to "move on" and not "dwell in the past." This is a survivor who is pink clouding.

What makes this behavior so dangerous is the simple fact that the human brain will not allow us to forget such traumatic events. Something, somewhere along the path of life will trigger the survivor's memory and they will be right back to feeling their trauma all over again. When this happens, it can often lead to suicidal thoughts because it is so difficult to try to process their chaotic emotions and to discern what is real and what is not.

One of the things that can cause a survivor to pink cloud are the stereotypes that surround what it means to be a victim of sexual violence. There are often things said to survivors that cause them to feel that they have nowhere to turn or nobody to talk to and instead should just forget about what happened and move along like any ordinary day. So many times advocates like myself have heard survivors say that someone they trusted to disclose their abuse to said to them "you need to get on with your life." This will make the victim systematically shut down and feel like what they say doesn't matter, instead of feeling safe to disclose their victimization. This can cause a survivor to spiral into that fluffy pink cloud that unfortunately for many, there is no way out of.

Understanding this phenomenon and the signs that come with it are important to understanding the survivor. The best thing that one can do if they are ever confronted with this type of behavior from a survivor is to reiterate to them that first and foremost, you believe them and that they are safe to talk to you about what happened. After that, let the survivor lead the way forward and if they allow it, reiterate to them that what happened to them is never, under any circumstances, their fault and that this fact will never change. It's important to keep in mind that the survivor may teeter back-and-forth between remaining in their pink cloud and asking for help. This is normal because talking about being a victim of sexual violence is incredibly hard to accept and the prospect of talking about their trauma will make what happened "real." The greatest resource for each and every survivor is support, and it is the key to helping a survivor find their way out of the pink cloud.

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