Don’t touch me…

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.

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11 thoughts on “Don’t touch me…

  1. Good to know. As a nurse I don’t personally touch people in wheelchairs unless I am assisting them physically. I also just don’t touch people in general unless I feel the vibe is right and we’ve made some sort of personal connection. I think some touches can be condescending too … nothing I’d want to put someone in a wheelchair through.

    I usually use TALKING as my method of communicating with someone who has a scared look … touch is NEVER my first instinct. I’m sorry that you battle with this demon … sounds really like PTSD x2!!!

  2. I admit that I learned to reign in my impulse to touch other people far later in life than I should have, and all because of my friend’s 10-year-old. By all accounts he is happy, healthy, artistic and outgoing, but he would shriek if I touched him. After a couple of shrieks, I got it through my thick skull.

    I wish you all good things.

  3. I reall don’t like to be touched either and don’t want to shake hands. The part about the wheelchair and people patting on your shoulder, wow that happened yesterday. I froze. It was a stupid move of that person anyway, since she clearly did that because she thought I was a fool. That I was ignoring her didn’t cross her mind xD

    I hope your fear will become less over time. I don’t think it’s crazy at all and I’m glad you posted this. I’m sure more people (like me) have issues with this and your post raises awareness.

  4. Totally understand why you would have such a fear! It’s perfectly understandable under the circumstances … I worked in child protection for years and because of my experiences there I don’t touch unless I get permission first.
    Patting anyone on the head is so patronising and belittling, and as you said you are a sitting target being in a wheel chair. People need more awareness and basic education!
    Good luck with it all, i do feel your underlying strength, your inner resilience is powerful and you can come to terms with it. But it ain’t going to be quick or easy and then you will have a skill set to help others that most of us cannot comprehend – all because of your own experiences.

  5. Kendhal Tiluen

    Hi RAVENWING72,

    I have a similar condition ! Though I am not in a wheelchair. (why are you in a wheelchair btw ?)
    So, as I was saying, I also suffer from a kind of haphephobia but I’m not going to enter into any details here. Just that I’d really like to talk with you if you are up to it.
    In many ways I can relate to you but I can’t even imagine how your condition of a disable person makes it even worse.. At least I suppose so.. I haven’t been able to “cure” this phobia and many other problems arose from that illness.. I’m 24 and I have had this issue for about 10 years now… i wasn’t born with it but it did not appear because of sexual abuse, unlike you.
    I find this part very interesting or.. intriguing you choose ^_^ : “So eventually I came to associate all touch with that same level of pain and suffering”
    Anyway, here’s my email : hl-01@hotmail.fr
    Maybe it could help if we had a conversion… I don’t know.
    have a good day !
    Courage…

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