Sexual Assault Weird Trigger

So, I was choked while I was raped and had pretty bad tactile flashbacks from it for some time but it was a few years back and it wasn't the choking that I would feel.
Now years later, I live in Mammoth Lakes CA aka it's FREEZING here almost all the time and my work puts me out in the extreme conditions very frequently...Particularly it has been very windy and cold, which has a "take your breath away"/ freezing lung much less intense degrees I usually enjoy that feeling, particularly while running, but I digress.

But lately upon coming inside from the cold I'll have to catch my breath and that has triggered the feeling of not being able to breath or hyperventilating, which then leads me into tactile flashbacks of being choked and normally I would do deep breathing exercises to calm myself but it doesn't work in this particular situation and I'm not too sure how to handle it.

Any ideas or advice?


First thoughts…grounding exercises to bring you back to the here and now.

Personal experience? I’ve been raped/strangled and experienced pretty significant neck pain for years. For me, EMDRing the memories when I was strangled resulted in a complete remission of all my neck pain. 20 years of requiring regular chiropractic care erased once I processed those memories. I no longer have any neck pain.

This is just my personal experience.

Are you in therapy? May be something to consider 😊


This is just what I did, surrounding my own issues, just making shit up on the fly. Essentially every time something bothered me, or triggered me? I'd do it more, on purpose, to trigger myself into nudging the boundary further away/ increase what I could do without wigging out. Kept playing with it, and poking at it, as things came up.

Physically - Oral Sex

Gave my mouth a helluva lot of sensory experiences
- Talking with my mouth full, or around ice, or under water
- Singing ditto (mouth full, or around ice, or underwater)
- Eating while walking (That was unexpectedly difficult. When I found that out I refused to eat sitting down for a few weeks, and started carrying lolly-pops and sunflower seeds to really trip my brain out!)
- Playing with my tongue (from flipping it upside down, to spinning spaghetti, to counting my teeth, to clicking).
- Playing with my face (blowing my cheeks out, sucking them in, Elvis lips, etc.)
- Different food textures
- etc.

- Trained my throat to swallow thick liquids, to pills, to whole grapes, etc. (I actually researched how drug-mules train themselves to swallow balloons).
- Brushed my teeth & tongue with a washcloth (ironically, works better than a brush).
- Used Chloraseptic (mild topical anesthetic) when necessary.
- etc.

Breath Control
- Swimmers tricks ((One of the primary rules of swimming is that if you can talk? You can breathe. I've actually always used this with panic attacks... But they also came in handy when dealing with my oral sex hangups.)) From gargling to "gulping fishes" (that mixed air & water choking feeling), to snorkeling, to rebreathers. Anything that creates the need to breathe weird, on purpose.
- Singing.
- Whistling
- etc.

(Lastly) Once I was completely copasetic with all the non-sexual aspects of oral anything and everything I could think of... I went on a fellatio mission.
- Researched everything I could about it (lmao, before Internet! That was an adventure)
- Talked to a bunch of people (guys mostly, gay guys even better).
- Took lessons / Practiced with friends
- Learned to breathe through my nose (that was a lightbulb moment! Shazaam. LOL)
- Learned to flip a condom around in my mouth / how to put one on
- etc.


& This.
EMDRing the memories

Warrior Chicken

I get the same thing when catching breath from cold dry air. Most times anything causing me to gasp for more than a few seconds is going to activate that memory and survival response.

For me one of the things I’ve worked on is awareness - trigger? Yep. Where, when, how am I. Am I surviving? What’s around me, can I protect myself now. It’s a series of questions and sometimes I can answer them. When I can’t, I gotta seek distractions, stuff that brings me back to here and now. Those fluctuate, never the same sequence. Which can be maddening, but I’m learning that’s how it goes for many of us.

Sometimes I dissociate. And I’m coming to appreciate that’s ok for a period of time but it’s gotta be temporary. That piece can be tricky to identify and break out of when it becomes a main coping tool.

Animals are most certainly a massively effective way I’ve found to connect back to the present. My cat is stellar, but in a pinch….any dog or cat can ground me like nothing else. Unfortunately, they’re not always around and it’s not always appropriate to race up to a dog walker to ask if you can hug their dog. ;)


i'm another who builds on awareness. an example off of my own psycho smorgasbord would be electric lights. painfully bright lights still have the power to catapult me back to child pornography sets and the trigger has proven quite therapy resistant. i am light sensitive, so my definition of "painfully bright" is far broader than the average resident of the 21st century.

i would prefer not to see your light, but, with awareness, i can endure it for long enough to do whatever i came to do. grounding techniques are my number one tool for remaining in the here and now while i complete my mission and get back to the gentler night lights.


Yep - totally get this. Happens in cold weather, and whenever I have something tight around my neck like scarves, necklaces, turtlenecks. Which makes dressing for the cold a challenge!

Grounding is a biggie but it took EMDR to get me to a place where I'm more or less ok. Still can't do tight things, but can tolerate a midrange.


For about 10 years if I drew in my breath in surprise for any reason, would go directly into a panic attack. Or drop on the ground. Needless to say, that had a purely negative impact on my life, so it needed to change ASAP.

I tried everything. Then I came upon a healer. He advised me to draw in my breath in a similar way but in controlled circumstances having an idea of a better way to react when I practiced. It took some time, but I was able to train my body to respond differently.

I also worked on some visualizations. The most effective was creating a small child breathing in 'excited surprise and shock'. That helped me understand how I WANTED to feel when I breathed in like that. I worked on that quite a bit.

For me, replacing triggers was more about adding a new and joyous/pleasant/loving feeling on top of the fear based ones. Do you want to feel happy you are home? Glad to be out of the cold? Can you figure out something to look forward to when you get to go inside, where ever it is?


I found this happened when we had to start wearing masks the last two years. We still have to wear them where I work, and I have to wear disposable ones as fabric reusable ones are all kinds of panic inducing.

I have always struggled to able to calm myself with breath anyway so I usually have to lean into the panic/pain somehow. Which is probably a sign of my SH tendencies but it works on a scaled back way.

Not sure that makes sense but by making a fist and letting my nails dig in my palm I can refocus on where I am. In the past people have made excellent suggestions about holding ice cubes instead to me, but they aren’t always available when I need them, so needs must with my fists!