We’ve talked about this before, touch in the form of affection, or hugs, is something that is mostly good for us, but can also be a challenge for survivors because we can also be triggered by touch when it’s unexpected or just not wanted.
“Affection also benefits health: It decreases blood pressure, boosts oxytocin, lowers cortisol, and improves immune functioning (e.g., less frequent colds, milder flu symptoms).
Turns out, that maybe it’s not that there’s something wrong with us, but that we simply are less likely to want to be touched, and unwanted touch has quite the opposite effect:
Yet, acts of affection and intimacy, when unwelcome (e.g., inappropriate touching) may cause or exacerbate stress and anxiety, according to a study by van Raalte et al. “
Turns out, we’re all a lot more complicated. If you read the rest of the article, what you’ll see is that none of this is simple, not only is there the line between wanted and unwanted affection, there’s also a point where we’ve simply had enough and don’t want more, and that line is not going to be the same for everyone.
All of this leads me to believe that the best way to navigate this in romantic relationships, or just with family and friends, is to communicate openly about what we want and don’t want.
Believe it or not, abuse survivors, you can do that. You can create your own boundaries, and ask for what you want in any relationship. It just takes some time to learn how.