“For me, attempting to unwind after a long day at work can involve tremendous fear and discomfort. If I want to catch up on what everyone’s talking about—say, an episode of Jessica Jones or How to Get Away with Murder—I have to judge, based on what I know about the show, whether I’m likely to run into upsetting material. I’ll often self-spoil, reading synopses of episodes before I watch so I can be prepared for scenes of violence, abuse, or assault…The process can be so exhausting, it’s often easier to not watch TV at all. I half-jokingly tell… dates that I only watch ‘documentaries and cartoons,’ the least likely genres to send me into spiraling, chest-tightening panic.”Feerless does not prevent survivors from being able to engage with content that may be challenging for them. Instead, it lets them knowingly gain exposure at their own pace and on their own terms. For example, a survivor may read a content warning and choose to pause the movie until a friend is available to watch it with them. Feerless uses a survivor-centered, trauma-informed approach that empowers viewers to make informed choices. Contrary to some alarmist opinions on the subject, content warnings are not censorship—they simply provide information. Without that information, viewers cannot make informed choices for themselves about what and how they wish to watch, diminishing their agency. Tools like Feerless help to put choices back in the hands of survivors, who deserve to choose for themselves what is appropriate. Leong also emphasized that the plugin is not just for survivors of PTSD—it’s also a way for their friends and allies to support them. In an interview with The Mighty, she said, “‘If you have a loved one with PTSD or if you’ve experienced trauma yourself and ever wondered, ‘What can I do?’ this is a way you can help.’” Since warnings are user-generated, the more supporters download the plugin and contribute warnings to the service, the more effective it will be for those who need it. For more information, or to download the app, please click here.
-Haylin Belay, Fusion