Don’t Touch Me: Are You Vulnerable?
How often in your life have you received an unwelcome touch?
Did it happen today or yesterday?
Who are the people who feel they have a right to touch us without our permission?
The doctor has his back to me, reviewing the results of my latest tests. Two cancer scares in the past three months and my nerves are more frazzled than usual.
“I saw the specialist you referred me to,” I said.
He glanced up.
“I’m never going back to him again.”
Slowly, he turned in his chair and rubbed his head. “You must be the fortieth woman who has told me that. I’ve heard he’s extremely arrogant.”
“I’ll give him some reasonable doubt,” I said. “I was extremely upset when I saw him and told him if the results of his test confirmed my worst fears, that I would refuse to allow any cancer treatments. He knew I was horribly upset when he put his hand on my knee. I would have chalked it up to compassion and ignored it if it only happened once. But, when it happened four, five, six times? That’s sick!”
His eyes widened.
“Again, I will never go back!”
Have you experienced something like this?
I admit, after the sexual abuse of my childhood and attempted attack in college, I’m much more sensitive to the human touch than others.
I also believe there need to be boundaries. No one has a right to touch you or me without our permission.
Your Mother Had It All Wrong
“Nice girls don’t talk about things like that.”
“What would the neighbors say if they heard you say something like that.”
Have you heard something like this while growing up?
Our mothers didn’t mean any harm. There were just some things you didn’t mention in public or sometimes in private.
I couldn’t tell my mother about how the minister pushed himself up against me when I was practicing the organ for church services.
How then, could I tell my mother about the band teacher who was seriously a predator?
Reactions Are So Varied
I wept in college as the center of the football team and the “Favorite Man on Campus” the year before carried me away after five boys tried to attack me. He saved me from harm, but those boys didn’t look too good after he stopped their attack. That night, I only remember yelling “Stop!” as they threw me down on the ground. I still remember their unwanted touch.
I grew smarter and by the time I became a manager, I had no hesitation in telling one of the male employees to stop touching my employees.
One afternoon, I was in the Presidents office when my shoulder recoiled from a large hand. The President and I had been talking alone, and I didn’t hear anyone come in.
That didn’t matter.
In a heartbeat, I knew the touch, and the heavy hand resting on my shoulder was inappropriate.
I should have thought about where I was.
An Immediate Reaction
I did a complete 180-degree turn in a split second, raised my hands and shoved against his chest.
“Don’t ever touch me or any of my girls again.”
The older man flew backward.
You see, girls aren’t taught to react to touch with any form of physical contact. I still have no idea what got into me at that moment, but for once in my life, I fought back.
The man stood up away from the wall he fallen into, mumbling, “I’m sorry.” As he turned to leave, I saw the back of his white shirt was covered in blood.
I turned to the President with tears in my eyes.
To this day, I don’t know if the tears were of anger or of shame for what I’d just done.
I’d talked to the President before about the man and how frequently he touched my staff. They hated it as much as I did.
“You didn’t hurt him, Peg. He has cancer and his back is covered in sores.”
Now, I was conflicted. For the first time in my life, I actually fought back. But, it didn’t feel as good as I thought it should.
No one has the right to touch you without your consent.
Absolutely no one has the right to hurt you.
You should never feel guilty. Predators are masters of their art. They spend years perfecting their techniques and they work all too well. Look at Dr. Nassar who abused all the young girls who simply had a dream to make it to the Olympics.
It doesn’t matter what you were wearing or where you are. You are not responsible for their unwanted touch or predatory behavior!
If you were violated like I was as a child, stop carrying the guilt. This is on them!
People are afraid to listen to the victims. Perhaps because they’re afraid it might happen to them…if it hasn’t already.
Remember, if you’ve experienced unwanted touch, talk, or advances, you are not alone.
The true healing comes when we are able to talk about these experiences. These predators carry their power only through our silence.
There’s a great book out there that will give you some insight. Be sure to share it with those you love: Beware The Predator: The American’s Guide to Personal Security.