How to (not) watch viral videos of police brutality

Angela Blount doesn’t watch videos of police violence. She did not watch video from Memphis, Tenn., of police beating Tire Nichols, a black motorist who later died from his injuries. She has not watched video of a Minneapolis police officer murdering George Floyd.

And she probably won’t watch the next viral video of a black American being beaten or killed by police.

“I have a black son and two black grandchildren. It would be like watching my own child or grandchildren being beaten to death,” she said. “I’m 67 years old and I didn’t want to do this to my body, mind and soul. I had to protect myself.”

Videos of police violence have changed American attitudes. But watching them can also do real harm.

“Obviously, when you watch someone get murdered, it can trigger some sort of traumatic response, certainly some anxiety,” said Adaobi Anyeji, clinical psychologist and founder of the Blue Clinic, a psychology practice in downtown Los Angeles specializing in anxiety and depression .

Even people who feel compelled to watch such videos may find it awkward or impossible to watch them extensively over and over year after year.

A short clip of the hour-long Memphis video was enough for Aubrey Backus, a 25-year-old black man in Los Angeles.

“I’ve seen this story and the same video many times,” he said. “I know for me personally, it’s just exhausting. Especially as a black person, it’s like watching myself get beaten up or killed by the police. I don’t want to see that all the time, even though I know it happens.”

But videos of cops beating or killing civilians can be hard to avoid. Here is a guide on how to deal with them:

You don’t have to watch to be informed

Victims’ families and lawyers hope that the release of images and videos of extreme violence can lead to change. Sometimes it happens: Rosa Parks said images of 14-year-old Emmett Till’s mutilated body catalyzed her into it refuse to give up their place on a bus weeks later. Minnesota government said Tim Walz that without the videos from bystanders, the officers involved in Floyd’s murder would never have been convicted.

But sometimes videos of police brutality don’t result in the officers involved being held accountable. For example, those who saw Rodney King hitting in a 1991 video were acquitted by a Superior Court jury. (They were later convicted by a federal jury).

You don’t have to watch videos of police violence to be informed. You should know yourself and your limitations before exposing yourself to distressing videos, says Arron Muller, a New York-based licensed clinical social worker whose clients are primarily black men, women and children.

For some people, “it’s unhealthy to see it,” Muller said. “Don’t think you have to look at these pictures to be moved or to keep your blackness. [Not watching] don’t negate your blackness, don’t negate that you care.”

People who want to stay up to date on police brutality but don’t want to see graphic representations of it can instead follow the story on the news, Muller said. When you feel called to action, attending peaceful rallies or writing letters to your elected officials can make a difference, he added. Most mainstream news outlets adhere to a strict code of ethics and generally shy away from presenting disturbing material while accurately reporting the content.

Although she didn’t see the Memphis video, Blount said she managed to dig into it by watching it Eulogy by Rev. Al Sharpton at Nichols’ funeral and a television interview with Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells.

“It broke my heart, so I didn’t have to see the pictures,” Blount said. “I heard it from her.”

Don’t watch alone

If you want to watch videos of violence, watch them with someone you trust in a supportive environment, Anyeji advised.

“When you pick the people you want to watch it with, make sure they’re people you relate to, people who are compassionate and supportive,” she said.

She recommends making a list of calming activities and questions to ask each other after watching a distressing video. If you are already in supportive care with a therapist, you can raise it with them as well.

“Let’s plan this right before you watch it… so that when you watch the video and trigger all these reactions, which can be very unsettling and very confusing, you already have a plan of what you’re going to do to take care of yourself.” , added her.

Muller recommends that you also write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. For people of faith, he added, praying can be helpful “to center yourself.”

After watching, check in with yourself

When you’re watching a disturbing video, it’s important to pay attention to your body and look out for signs of stress, Muller said.

“Make sure you breathe because sometimes we stop, we tense up. … Do you shiver? do you feel hot Wet palms? Because that can be fear,” he said.

Other signs of stress can include trouble sleeping, changes in your diet, images repeating in your head, and an increase in your heart rate, Anyeji adds.

And if you don’t feel anything after seeing someone get killed, that’s also an important physical reaction.

“If you have this feeling of apathy or numbness — you can’t feel anything — that’s also a signal that something is happening,” Anyeji said.

Participate in the self-care of ‘GRAPES’

If you’ve been exposed to disturbing videos without looking for them and without a plan, Anyeji recommends remembering the acronym GRAPES for self-care:

  • G calls on people to be gentle and compassionate with themselves. “Don’t say to just stop if you’re watching a video and it’s really bothering you.”
  • R stands for relaxation. Active relaxation is more than just sitting behind the TV. Engage in meditation and deep breathing, take a walk outside, read, or listen to soothing music. “These things will actively lower your blood pressure and heart rate, so they actually relax your body.”
  • A stands for performance. Stressful videos can make even the simplest of tasks difficult. “Over the next few days it can be difficult to get your entire to-do list. So if you are able to do those things, instead of getting angry about the things you can’t do, acknowledge it.”
  • P stands for pleasure. “When you think of pleasure, you really should think about using your senses to notice things that feel good.” This could include a special meal, a scented candle, incense, or aromatherapy.
  • E is for exercise. It doesn’t mean going to the gym and doing an hour of cardio. “Take the stairs, park your car a little further away so you can walk a little longer. move your body This kicks off endorphins, which effectively boost your mood.”
  • S stands for sociability. Isolation can increase your distress, so connect with people to talk about how you’re feeling. “Make sure you’re thinking of people who generally support you and not people who invalidate you.”

Set boundaries with people who share things with you

If you’ve received a disturbing video from a friend or family member, it might be time to tell them your limits so they know not to send you anything similar in the future.

“You should never apologize for setting boundaries. So have peace of mind and know that you have every right to speak out if it makes you uncomfortable,” Muller said.

Anyeji says the sender may be desensitized or deaf to the disturbing content, which is also a sign of the sender’s traumatic burden that they may unknowingly be passing on.

Muller recommended saying something like, “I kind of made a commitment not to get involved in pictures and videos that I’m uncomfortable with. I would appreciate it if you would stop sending me by force because it’s not good for my mental health.”

Anyeji also suggests saying, “When you send me a video like this of someone being murdered, it’s really very triggering for me. It’s very hard for me
process and get through my day. Would you mind not sending me such things? I know you’re probably just trying to share information, but it’s very annoying.”

Source :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *