No, really, please don’t touch me. I’ll explain why. Everybody already thinks I’m fucking crazy, so maybe this will just cement that belief. I don’t care. I’ve never been able to talk about this in public before, and right now I feel brave enough so I’m going to grab the chance with both hands.
When I ask you not to touch me, I have a very good reason. The very thought of your fingers making contact with my skin makes the vomit rise in my throat and my pulse bound faster and heavier than even the worst panic attack can induce. For you see, I have haphephobia. A fear of being touched. It is much, much worse with strangers, but there are only a handful of people who can touch me without making me sick to my stomach. 😦
It makes life so very difficult. Many people are tactile by nature and when they reach out to touch an arm or shake a hand it induces such waves of sheer terror in me that I’m unable to move. I’m gripped by fear and paralysed by the thought that I am not able to escape. For you see, I’m stuck in a wheelchair. I cannot get away. For some reason people seem to think that they have an automatic right to pat me on the shoulder or grab my hand. So when I scream, yell “Get the fuck off me!” and yank my hand away, they think that I’m just being rude. Maybe I am. But are they not being rude by touching my body without my permission?
My Psychiatrist and I have talked about this before. Well, by that I mean he talks about haphephobia whilst I sob and choke on the words in my throat. Even now, I’m not able to say it. I try so hard but I just can’t.
Maybe if I try it this way. I spent the first 33 years of my life being abused. Both familial and spousal abuse. The familial abuse came from the one man amongst all others who should have loved and protected me. I then left home and married a bastard who was a carbon copy of my first abuser. The abuse was verbal, physical and sexual (as it was in the first instance). It got to the point where I could feel his fingers even when they were not in contact with my skin. I knew that their contact brought pain and suffering. So eventually I came to associate all touch with that same level of pain and suffering.
Even though I know why my phobia exists, I simply cannot move past it. Nothing my Psychiatrist has tried has worked. Not a single thing.
So when you see a woman in a wheelchair who looks like a terrified rabbit caught in the glare of some headlights and she’s sobbing and begging you not to touch her – please think that there’s a damn good reason why and respect her wishes.