I hurt for a long time because of childhood sexual abuse. Now I want to provide a safe place for hurting men to connect with other survivors of sexual abuse. Talk to us. You don't have to use your real name to share your experiences or ask questions.

"Don't Touch Me!" (Part 1 of 2)

About four years into my healing journey, I began to hear men speak about not wanting to be touched. I heard it the first time after I became a member of the Men's Gathering in Louisville, Kentucky.

We met on alternating Saturday mornings. To help newcomers feel comfortable, two or three of us stood in front of the building and welcomed them. Don hugged every man that came his way. I'm a hugger, but once in a while it didn't feel right for me to embrace someone I didn't know.

"Don't touch me!" one man yelled at Don and started to turn away. I stopped him and said, "It's all right. Not everyone here is a hugger."

"I hate being touched," he said, but he allowed me to escort him to our meeting room.

He was the first man I met who said those words aloud. I had encountered others who allowed themselves to be embraced but their bodies grew stiff. I assume physical touch—any kind of touch—thrusts them back into the painful memories of abuse.

I told Don (the hugger) and I've since told others, "Trust your guts. If you sense the other person is open to a hug, give it. But if you intuit resistance or you're unsure, don't touch."

The wrong touch can cause great damage.


stanw said...

I think I give the impression that I don't want a hug but in reality I crave a hug, does that make sense?

Cec Murphey said...

Stan, of course it makes sense. For many of us we both abhor and desire at the same time.

Pippi said...

I was very fortunate to find a church where people don't try to hug me without an invitation. A few of our congregants complain that our church isn't affectionate enough, but I'm glad. I visited many, many churches only once because people wouldn't give me my space.