The video of Diddy assaulting Cassie is something you can’t unsee. It’s OK not to watch.

A disturbing video of Sean "Diddy" Combs kicking, hitting and dragging his then-girlfriend Cassie Ventura has surfaced − and experts say it's important to know about triggers before deciding to watch it.

In the video, Ventura is seen in a black sweater with the hood up and duffle bag in hand, calling an elevator in what CNN reports is the now-closed InterContinental Hotel in Los Angeles. In a different camera angle, Diddy is seen in a bath towel running down the hotel hallway. He catches up with Ventura before the elevator comes, striking and yanking Ventura by the hair and throwing her to the ground. The music producer then kicks Ventura twice while she lies on the ground, picking up her bag and dragging her back toward the hotel rooms.

The surveillance footage, reportedly from March 5, 2016 and released by CNN Friday, is hard to watch − and mental health professionals say you don't have to.

"I don't think we have a responsibility to witness every instance of violence that happens," therapist Erik Anderson says. "Here's an instance of very ugly violence, and people kind of need to be responsible for understanding what's going to trigger them and what they're able to tolerate."

Sean 'Diddy' Combs and singer Cassie pictured at the 2018 Metropolitan Museum of Art gala in New York City.
Sean 'Diddy' Combs and singer Cassie pictured at the 2018 Metropolitan Museum of Art gala in New York City.

The Diddy, Cassie Ventura footage is disturbing. You don't have to watch it.

The term "triggering," like other mental health terms, has become a popular part of modern vernacular. And while this has caused an increased awareness of triggering, it also has muddied what it actually means, experts say.

Mental health experts tell USA TODAY that triggering is a response to something that reminds someone of a specific past trauma. Things that remind someone of their own abuse or other traumatic memory, for instance, are triggers.

Experts say the violent video of Diddy and Cassie can certainly be triggering for people who have experienced domestic abuse or violence.

More: Sean 'Diddy' Combs seen hitting and dragging ex Cassie Ventura in 2016 surveillance video

Additionally, if you're someone who hasn't experienced violence but who is particularly sensitive or empathic, the video could still disturb and damaging your mental health, even if it's not technically triggering.

"I think it's very important for people to pay attention to how they feel," mental health counselor Catherine Del Toro says. "Typically when we watch these kinds of violent videos, it's very normal to feel shocked, anxious, sad, disgusted and those are all very, very normal feelings. But again, (it's important) to distinguish between feeling that and allowing that emotion to go versus ruminating on it and really having it impact our overall functioning."

Before people watch the video, psychotherapist Stephanie Sarkis encourages them to check in with themselves and be honest about how they think viewing it may affect them. Most people, she says, may find they don't actually need to watch the footage in order to better understand domestic violence.

"It's important to ask yourself: 'Is this really going to help my understanding of the story? Is this going to benefit me? Or is there a potential that this could trigger past trauma for me?' " she says. "Most of the time we aren't going to add additional benefit."

More: A lot of people talk about 'complex trauma.' What does it mean?

What happens when you get triggered?

Triggering can cause a host of mental health issues, experts say. These include flashbacks to one's own trauma, panic attacks and feelings of helplessness, Sarkis says. Triggering can also make someone feel depressed, anxious, despondent or even suicidal.

Because witnessing violence can harm anyone's mental health, regardless of if they're triggered by it, Del Toro urges extreme caution before watching the footage or just not watching at all. Sarkis adds that, for those who feel passionate about ending domestic violence, their energy might be better channeled toward activism or fundraising than into watching this disturbing footage.

"Definitely our human curiosity drives us to want to watch the video, but we need to be very mindful and aware of how these videos can affect us," Del Toro says. "Ultimately, it's our choice whether we watch these videos or not. And so if we believe that it may have a negative impact on our overall wellbeing, I would definitely recommend that we don't watch the video, and sometimes we don't really know how much it's going to affect us until we're watching it."

Contributing: Taijuan Moorman, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Diddy, Cassie and why it's OK not to watch the disturbing video