talking about trauma

What is Trauma Dumping? How is it Different from Venting?

Trauma dumping refers to the oversharing of difficult thoughts and emotions. People who trauma dump often share stressful situations with others during inappropriate times. For example, your coworker might share intimate details about their divorce while you’re at work. 

Sharing our emotions is a good thing, and there’s been a push for it in recent years. People have no problem heading to social media and ranting, venting or sharing their opinion. So how does trauma dumping differ, and why can it be harmful to your relationships? 

If you’re concerned that you’re involved in trauma dumping, whether you’re the dumper or have been “dumped on,” it’s important to get a hold of this behavior. Learn to recognize it and the harm it can do. 

Emotional Dumping vs Venting 

Trauma dumping happens when someone shares their traumas without leaving room for the listener to exit the conversation. They essentially ‘dump’ all of their problems on the other person, leaving them feeling trapped, drained and frustrated. The concept behind trauma dumping is that the dumper overshares information. 

Venting, on the other hand, is different. Venting is more complaining about an issue and then letting it go. The purpose is to blow off steam, whereas emotional dumping tends to be about the same issues with the intent of getting sympathy and preferential treatment. 

The lines aren’t always clear, however. The listener might not know if the person is emotionally dumping or simply venting about an issue that’s important to them. And the dumper might think that they’re seeking support and being open about their feelings. 

Here are some ways to tell the difference between healthy venting and trauma dumping:

  • Sharing your frustrations / oversharing at inappropriate times.
  • Having mutual venting with the other person / not allowing the other person to share their struggles. 
  • Taking accountability for mistakes made / not taking responsibility. 
  • Open to finding solutions to the problem / unwilling to find solutions.
  • Only talking about one topic at a time / jumping from one topic to the next too quickly.
  • Putting a time limit on the venting session / talking about various issues for too long. 

How Can Trauma Dumping Affect Relationships? 

Trauma dumping can push people away, because it eventually crosses their boundaries. If you’re the dumpee, you’ll likely notice your stress and anxiety levels increase when you talk to the other person. Therefore, trauma dumpers put their relationship at risk. 

It is important to know that emotional dumping is different from: 

  • Educating others or raising awareness of the effects of trauma
  • Seeking support from loved ones during a difficult time 
  • Sharing vulnerability or intimacy 

How to Stop or Address Emotional Dumping 

If you’ve discovered you’re a trauma dumper, you’re already on the way to getting better. You need to recognize this behavior without feeling a need to close yourself off. This is not a solution either. Working with a mental health counselor can help create safe spaces to open up about your feelings, while learning healthy boundaries. 

If you’re the one being dumped on, it’s best to talk to the dumper directly. While these are difficult conversations, it allows you to continue a relationship with the other person. Otherwise, you can risk your own happiness and wellness, and eventually, the collapse of your friendship. 

Trauma dumping stems from many reasons. It can look different depending on the person, but it almost always puts a strain on relationships. If you’ve noticed trauma dumping in yourself, contact Awakenings Treatment Center. This behavior typically stems from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress or stressful home and work environments. We have therapists who can help.