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HSP aversion to violence

There is a characteristic of highly sensitive people that we hear less often about and yet is important. It's usually more of a topic that comes up in conversation between highly sensitive people about the things that set them apart from the rest of the world, but is otherwise rarely discussed, just skimmed over. This is the aversion to horror films, any form of violence or graphic content that may elicit a “fight or flight” response. This also includes news which only broadcasts dramatic, macabre, criminal images or information with negative content, to increase their audience. For a sensitive or empathetic person, watching this kind of information hurts them too much because they cannot bear the violence or suffering.

For some (and empaths in particular), this repulsion is even more extreme. For them, it is not only about seeing, but also hearing acts of violence (like people fighting) or listening to their neighbor recount in detail a tragic true story (like a road accident).


I am one of them.

HSP aversion to violence

Highly sensitive people and empaths react strongly to violence because they absorb emotional signals more intensely than others. Emotional distress and physical discomfort can be two reactions if confronted with a scenario of violence, cruelty or tragedy.

While thousands of people rush to the cinema or sit on their couch to binge-watch various horror films, ready to scream and be surprised, highly sensitive people and empaths fear and try to keep their distance from this type of “entertainment". Nor are they the ones who will slow down to watch road carnage or remain unresponsive to cruelty to animals. For them, that kind of situation is just unbearable.


Sadly, for an empath or a highly sensitive person, just trying to fit in with the rest of the world, it can be difficult to be the only one in a group of friends who doesn't want to participate in scary entertainment. While some may try to avoid absorbing the negative energies that accompany these activities, others may not participate at all, and that's okay. Don't force yourself to do things that will have disastrous repercussions on you and prevent you from sleeping.


This aversion to violence and cruelty can vary from person to person and also depend on the moment, whether or not you have had an emotionally charged day. Some people will be able to watch a good portion of a violent film and will only turn their head away at difficult moments. Others will have an aversion to blood or violence, while others will not be able to bear to watch situations of despair or immoral behavior.


For some empaths or hypersensitive people, reactions to this type of violent exposure can vary considerably as well. At best, it may just make them feel uncomfortable, cause them to look away or leave the area, but for some, it can trigger much stronger feelings. This can range from a knotty gut feeling to actually feeling sick, or having obsessive thoughts and horrible flashbacks. It can also cause them to have night terrors or panic attacks.


So, not only is no one the same in their aversion to violence as well as their level of tolerance towards violence, but also in the level of their reactions.

Each highly sensitive person therefore reacts differently to violence both in terms of their level of tolerance and the amplitude of their reactions.


Take this short quiz (below) if you want to know if you are a highly sensitive person.

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I consider myself in the highest level of aversion to violence and cruelty, and that is why I never watch television, and avoid reading the news. When someone tries to describe to me a tragic scene they witnessed, I instantly cut them off. I also cannot even watch someone cutting down a tree or crushing a snail, the image will haunt me for a long time, and my dislike will turn to the people who did it immediately. Violence and cruelty (and injustice, but that is not the theme of this post) are two (three) things that are completely unbearable for me, and to which I have disturbing physical and emotional reactions, which often don't leave me for days, even months. This does not make me fragile or weak.

I would be the first to run to a dying person to help them cross over, or I would tend to an open wound when needed. I would also be the first to intervene if I witnessed an act of violence to try to stop the conflict, but all of this would of course have repercussions for which I would pay dearly afterwards. But exposing myself to violence as a distraction, never!


So whatever your dislike and whatever your reactions, know that you are not alone. This can be frustrating and even embarrassing. But my sensitive friends, there is nothing to be ashamed of… at all.


Having negative feelings towards negative things is natural and okay in every sense of the word!

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