Please don’t touch me

I don’t like being touched. In truth, I never have, but I think my hatred of it has perhaps increased as I’ve gotten older, or the results of it are much more apparent. I hate the feeling of strangers making physical contact with me, it makes me feel sick, like my skin is crawling and I want to curl up in a quiet space alone. There are people who I am comfortable having contact with, my parents and sister, close friends and most small children are ok. But when other people make contact with me I am left feeling really uncomfortable.

This wouldn’t be too much of an issue, except I am visibly disabled. As a blind person, people rush to give me assistance when they perceive it is needed even though most of the time that isn’t the case. I am looking for a doorway and someone comes up to me, grabs my hand and leads me where they think I want to go. Stepping on and off trains strangers will reach to take my hands, or shoulders, or even grab me round the waist. I struggle to navigate the world without unwanted physical contact.

Most of the time they don’t ask, but even when they do and I politely decline their help they still insist on giving it to me. I am not allowed to make decisions about my own body because I am blind, and how could I possibly understand what kind of help I require? People don’t realise that by taking hold of me they are both violating my right to personal autonomy and causing me extreme anxiety, because they have broken the barrier of personal space I fight to maintain.

If I accept someone’s help I know they may make physical contact with me. I might offer them my hand so they can put it on the back of a chair, or I’ll take their arm so they can guide me somewhere. This is my choice. I have made the decision to both allow them into my personal space and let them assist me with something. It is my right to make these choices, and yet so often people don’t consider it to be so.

If you offer a disabled person assistance please respect their answer. You may think they need your help, but they best understand their own requirements. If they say no, respect that this is their answer and they have given it for a reason. I can’t emphasise enough how unwanted help firstly feels like a violation of my space and secondly can actually lead to me being in danger. Please always, always ask. And if I say no, understand that it is my choice to do so.

  1. Kyle Cogan left a comment on March 4, 2016 at 2:06 am

    well said holly! there’s not just the issue of violating someone’s spersonal space but there’s also the issue of giving somebody a fright. I say this because I read a blog post a few years ago entitled there’s helpful and then there’s harassment and the writer of this post had a broken leg previously and just grabbing onto somebody to offer them assistance and without asking if somebody needs help could very well make that person lose their footing and trip and fall. and yes if I want assistance I will ask for it even though I am sometimes too proud. The issue of touch is quite a major issue here and i’ll explain why with some background. If I ever did meet you one day holly with consent of course, I’d touch you on the arm or shoulder to check the personal space so that I’m not sitting or standing too close and that would be all. however if you don’t like to be touched at all I would just have to respect that. I once had a lady I was studying with try to guide me to the TAFE cafae and she took my hand but I changed positions so my hand was on her elbow. I phoned her up for a chat one night and she said she thought she had hurt me by me doing this but no I hadn’t been hurt. I’m not altogether comfortable with people touching me unless it’s a doctor examining me. after an incident that happened early in my secondary school career at the hands of an integration aid mind you this happened a few times it wasn’t just once. I was bullied from about year7 to year10 although it was becoming a real issue by years 9 and 10 particularly. I was segregated from my peers so that I wouldn’t be bullied and each time I tried to speak up my integration aid would grab my face with one hand as if to shut my mouth and it was a forceful grab mor so about the area of my chin and covering my cheek. but the one incident that i’ll never really forget and that still leaves me questioning my conscience as well as questioning the jenuinness of consent. A year7 boy thought it would be funny to push me up the stairs into the school hallway into the back of a girl sitting at her locker. I only touched her under her arm and under her chin. Soon after when I was in class the deputy principal showed up and took me aside to tell me a young girl had come to him in tears and said I’d groped her on the breast. Now this, I did not do. I was almost expelled from school for something I didn’t even do often times when you can’t see you need to touch to gage personal space and I always talk with that person and say to them that if they weren’t comfortable being touched I would happily respect that and I wouldn’t just bypass if somebody says no they mean no. not sure if I should apologise for expanding the issue of touch but I have and for good reason. It also goes without saying as far as a pregnant woman is concerned. Often putting one’s hand on a woman’s baby bump is by invitation only although it can be by consent but a lot of the time it’s invitation only and more so if the two people in question are at least familiar with each other and have been for a long time. Detailing a couple of examples here. Recently I went for a haircut and one of the hairdressors was pregnant. She sat down for a rest and I had had my haircut and was waiting to go home. I congratulated her on her pregnancy. She invited me to feel her baby bump but I declined because there were other people around and I wasn’t sure whether she was jenuin about it or she was somewhat casual or I looked as though I wanted to feel her baby bump and she’d resigned herself to this but I’ve had it drilled into me for a long time that touching is sometimes inappropriate and even if I’m given consent I still fear I’m going to get into trouble particularly if there are people around who can easily read body language and facial expression as sometimes I feel people will lie about being okay with being touched or they make up some laim excuse so I’m often confused as to who to believe because too many people have their views and it’s hard to know who to believe and what to believe. A visiting teacher took me aside one day and she said if I continue getting to know what people look like by touch nobody would ever want a relationship and I’d grow up to be a dirty old man. And, this also extends to the issue of dating where I fear that if I did want to date somebody that my parents would tag along just to show me where to put my hands but I thought I’d just comment on your post and give quite a lot of background I do apologise for how long my comment is you may get borred reading an extremely long comment almost short story lol.

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