Are You Trauma Dumping?

It's natural to seek comfort in others when navigating stress, anxiety, or worry. It’s good to have a support system, and sharing and unburdening yourself can be very beneficial. However, it's crucial to recognize the fine line between a healthy vent and what's known as trauma dumping—the excessive sharing of traumatic experiences.

Venting Versus Trauma Dumping

The purpose of trauma dumping is often to seek sympathy or feedback, turning personal anguish into the focal point of discussions without introspection or acknowledgment of personal responsibility. Venting, on the other hand, is typically a temporary release of suppressed emotions, aimed more at self-relief than garnering sympathy. Venting tends to be about more superficial issues, such as a bad day at work or an argument with a partner. Trauma dumping is the continued sharing of traumatic experiences, such as sharing constant updates on the actions of an abusive partner.

Why Trauma Dumping Is Harmful

Trauma dumping can inadvertently harm both the sharer and the listener. Those living in or processing traumatic experiences may not even be aware that they are experiencing trauma. Consequently, they might not realize how intense what they are sharing can be to others. Although trauma dumpers are often seeking connection and understanding, their actions can actually isolate them further by pushing people away. Constant dumping can make others hesitant to engage. They may feel uncomfortable hearing about your trauma or unsure of how to respond. They can also start to feel resentful that your conversations always center on your problems, or that you don’t realize the effect that hearing your trauma can have on them. Moreover, friends and family, despite their best intentions, might not possess the necessary expertise to provide appropriate guidance.

Signs That You May Be Trauma Dumping

If you find yourself repeatedly sharing the same distressing experiences without seeking solutions, or if your conversations are predominantly one-sided, you might be indulging in trauma dumping. You may not ask others about their lives or make room for their needs, and you may not even allow them to offer opinions on your experience. This behavior can hinder personal growth and strain relationships, as it leaves little space for mutual exchange.

So You’ve Been Trauma Dumping… What Now?

Realizing and acknowledging the pattern of trauma dumping is the first step towards change. You can still talk to trusted friends or family members about your trauma, but make sure you identify the right individuals and that you gain their consent. Be aware that they may not want to help you process your trauma, and that’s ok. Before you share with someone, reflect on the intent behind sharing. Are you looking for advice and a different point of view, or are you looking for sympathy and connection? 

Above all, exploring therapeutic options like EMDR and other types of therapy can offer structured support from trained professionals who use research-backed techniques to help you process and move past trauma. Engaging in mindfulness and journaling on your own can also be beneficial.

Setting Boundaries with Trauma Dumpers

It's important to protect your emotional well-being while showing empathy to those who may rely on you for emotional support. You are not a trained mental health professional, and it is not healthy for you to be the reservoir of another person’s trauma. Additionally, you are not helping them by letting them dump their trauma on you; a mental health provider will be able to guide them through processing their trauma and empower them to move forward. Let the other person know that you care about them and want them to be happy, then gently communicate your discomfort with hearing about their traumatic experiences in detail. Suggest professional help and offer to help them find a therapist.

Therapy for Trauma at Medens Health

At Medens Health, our caring mental health providers are well-versed in the intricacies of navigating trauma, offering comprehensive therapy options tailored to your needs. Our approach aims to empower individuals to reflect, heal, and regain control over their narratives in a supportive environment. Navigating the complexities of emotional oversharing and trauma can be challenging, but with the right support, it's possible to foster healthier relationships, personal growth, and greater overall happiness.

For therapy to address trauma, boundaries, and communication, call or text Medens Health at (833) 624-5400, fill out our contact form, or get started here.


The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.

If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.