Getting comfortable with the idea of touch can be very hard after experiencing abuse.  During abuse, touch is the last thing you want to feel, because more often than not, touch means hurt.  Touch means bruises and soreness, uncomfortable feelings and shame.

Being touched used to be my worst nightmare.  I did not like hugs, I did not like shaking people’s hands.  I did not like partner work in ballet for a while, because I cringed the entire time people touched me.  Holding hands was another horror.  All these physical affections that were normal and welcome for most people made me want to run into a corner and hide so that I could cry.

Especially this one spot on my back.  Right up near my shoulder blades, where a line of knots tightened like vines around my spine. In fact, my entire back was in knots.  Knots and pains and spasms.  The effect of years of slouching into the ground trying to disappear.  Whenever someone would touch this spot on my back, I would cringe and collapse.  Sometimes tears would well up in my eyes.  Sometimes, on rarer occasions, I would simply turn around and slap away the person’s hand, out of instinctual reaction.  My friends used to tease me about it.  They thought it was just some funny nervous habit.

But touch is something intensely personal.  If I had lived a life without abuse, perhaps I wouldn’t have all the problems of handling touch that I have.  But abuse has made touch personal, and touch is now associated with trust.  If I trust someone, they are allowed to touch me.  If I do not know someone, touch is still something that makes me very uncomfortable.

As I have undergone counseling, healing, and started practicing yoga and surrounding myself with people who are good and kind, being touched has gotten much easier.  Acquiring comfort with touch takes practice, much like anything else.

Personally, I love hugs.  Well, nowadays I love hugs.  They make you feel better, and I’ve even heard it said (though I’m not sure how scientific this statement is) that 12 hugs a day can make you happier.  The trick was, I just had to find the right people to hug.


5 thoughts on “Touch

  1. I would hug you 12 times a day if i could. i honestly believe that if we got enought hugs we could heal from much of the pain and hurt because hugs represent love and love is the antithesis of pain and hurt and brokenness. the beatles sung about it “all we need is love. Love is all we need.” – its true. We need love and we need a LOT of it. those of us that have been abused need all the hugs we can get. I call it “hug therapy” – its one of the easiest and quickest ways to help show love and receive it. So glad you have gotten to a place where you can receive hugs. thats so important ! I am so proud of you !!

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  3. Hi Lauren,

    I came across your blog just by a quick search in WordPress. Thank you for your words. I find it completely fascinating that you have responded to touch differently than I have. After being sexually and physically abused by my father and emotionally and verbally abused by my mother for my entire childhood, I have actually gone the opposite direction. I yearned for physical touch. I became promiscuous in high school and early college because I thought that I would only be loved if someone were touching me sexually, physically. Yes, there are times when I cringe at some touch, but for the most part I have always initiated and even been addicted to physical touch from others. Have you heard of the five love languages? Well, if you have…my love language is touch…off the charts. It is kind of crazy how people with similar experiences can respond in completely different ways. Thank you for sharing your story and helping the cause by letting people know that they are not alone. We all have stories to share. I often share many of my stories on my blog. If you’re interested, feel free to check it out.


  4. thanks for sharing Kristin! I’ll be sure to check out your blog. I’ve never heard of the 5 love languages, but I’ll definitely have to look into it. I’ve heard before that sex boosts confidence levels. So that very well could’ve been your way of bolstering yourself against adversity! It is interesting how everybody deals with things differently and thanks for sharing your story here so that others know that my reaction isn’t the only one either. Wish you the best!

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