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Physical Touch & The Dilemma

Healthy Physical Touch - we cannot live without it, but as survivors how do we live with it? Babies, even with every other bodily need satisfied, will die without physical touch. We were created with a deep need for touch, but can what was once wielded as a weapon against us now bring healing? Yes.

"Touch is something very difficult for me.  A colleague of mine, my moms age and very caring, sometimes just touches my shoulder. I doubt if she even realises she does it. That is of course nothing big, but inside it feels like an electric current going through my body."

"...I started to feel a bit emotional and she held my arm to comfort me and that is when my emotions just started flooding. I literarily felt sick in my stomach because all of the emotions. But I also felt a sexual reaction. And that made me very confused."

Moving through life as a human trafficking & SRA/DID survivor, I came to one conclusion regarding my body: It betrayed me and was now on the same side of the fence as my abusers. It didn't seem to belong to me any more than any other aspect of my life. When I should have felt pain I felt arousal, when I should have felt arousal I felt pain. If there was ever a "supposed to" regarding my body I was sure to find myself doing the opposite. To my frustration, even well into my healing process when physical safety finally found a place to land in my little world, my body somehow missed the memo.

A gentle side-hug from an older, trusted male, a soft back pat as a friend walks by, a physical therapist working on my leg, each benign physical reaction would illicit an abnormal response - intense pain, shocking sensations, sexual arousal. The more I fought to be normal, the more my body reminded me "Actually - you're not normal." The day came when my self-contempt reached a peak and I cried out to the Lord... and He heard me.

"Shame boils to the surface in the form of contempt when we are closest to the deepest desires of the heart."

Dan Allender Healing the Wounded Heart p177

I was in a desperate war with shame. With every weapon pointed inward and every scrap of energy consumed with the fight, I finally just let go. I was fighting myself.

From the time I was bitty, I was ashamed of my own needs, responses, and my very self. As an adult I was ashamed of the way my body was conditioned, my illicit desires, my ill-placed rage and all-consuming judgements on myself and others. Even deeper I was ashamed of still hoping, still desiring, still being weak and still being...well, me.

The day I waved the white flag of surrender was the day I discovered that shame is just another emotion. I have a phrase I have used over the years - "Any more is a good more." Shame was my next 'more'. I found if I could accept shame as a legitimate experience that defined my emotional experience but not my worth, then the power shame held over me was broken. Each emotion or aspect of self that I have learned to accept has unlocked a new horizon in life.

Let's consider sexuality since it is so closely tied to physical touch. In the world of DID, to handle being prostituted and conditioned for sexual service at an early age one will often segment life by relegating bad sex to one corner of the soul, good sex to another and no sex to another. To maintain separation internally each 'corner' ostracizes the others for various reasons. I won't get into DID conflict resolution at this point, but rather skip ahead to integration.

As I began integrating various sexual aspects of myself I found locked within my part that functioned as "rage/beast/orgy" was a passion for justice. Within "sex-less" I found a desire for purity and righteousness (with a healthy dose of self-righteous, religious nazi I must say!). Then hidden within my deepest place of shame I found where I had given myself wholly in sex. I was utterly deceived, yet completely surrendered to one who hated me, but who I believed was God. When the lock cracked on this aspect I gained back my capacity for worship and surrender to the Lord.

You see satan cannot create. He is a creation and not God. He takes what is ours and uses it for his purposes and defiles everything he touches in hopes that we will abandon it and leave it in his care. When we claim back and accept the most shameful things about ourselves, we deprive the enemy of having power over us. The Lord Jesus, when He walked this earth, was fearless in the face of defilement, shame and ridicule. Our Lord's hands touched lepers. He was tortured publicly and hung naked on a cross. Do you think He will even flinch when we invite Him into the most defiled places of our souls? No. In fact, I think He smiles.


Alrighty, a few practicals.


It is our Lord's kindness that leads us to repentance. If there is a 'turning' or repentance I am looking for internally I find that gentleness, kindness and love are the catalyst. Be kind to yourself. EVERY aspect of self. Not pretend kind, not tolerant, but genuine kind. Many of us at the beginning of the journey read that and immediately think in a string of four letter words. Initially, you just ask the Lord to show You His heart for you. You cannot give what you have not already received. If you are lacking love, Christ is the love you need. Same with patience, kindness, gentleness. If you are serious about asking Him, He will meet you in the need. He may speak to you through circumstances, people around you, through His Word or by His gentle Spirit, but He will speak. Do you want to hear?

I have found kindness evokes pain and fear in me. It hurts to feel what is good because it exposes wickedness and the lack I have inside. But I assure you, its a good kind of hurt and the Lord is just as pleased to fill our deficits and holes as He is heal our wounds.


Often physical touch will bring on a trigger. A trigger is when our traumatized brain associates a past context with a present one and pulls forward the feelings or experience of a past reality and applies it to the present context, even if it doesn't fit. Remember we are SURVIVORS. Our brain has been wired to survive at the expense of being properly aligned with the present. For instance let's say one of our abusers used to have a cheesy handle-bar mustache. Then even the sight of someone with a cheesy handle-bar mustache can cause us to feel various things related to our history with the abuser. Each of our senses can be triggered in this way, but especially touch.

I have found that every trigger represents and opportunity and a gateway to more of self. If we can take the trigger into a counseling setting or before the Lord and follow the feelings to the source (ie. the first time we experienced this) it will unlock more of our humanity trapped in trauma. Use your triggers. They are not a hindrance but an opportunity.

When triggered, the first order of business is to ground in the present. Find a way to get back to the present while still being as kind to yourself as possible. You can speak out loud to yourself or train others to speak soft slow words like - "It's ok. You're here now. Look around you. The date is {day month year} and you are safe now." I have found it beneficial to rub my arms or legs or have someone wave their hand quickly in front of my vision. I do not necessarily recommend others touching you as it could cause more triggering, but there can be a place for it at times.

Once the trigger has subsided often there may be more release or memories to process with trained therapist. I do not recommend processing triggers with anyone who has not been trained in trauma or at least have experienced working with traumatized individuals. That said, let the Lord lead you. I am merely sharing what has been beneficial in my journey.


This topic needs its own post, but I must mention it here. Experienced satanic abusers are well aware of the needs of children regarding bonding. Using every bonding experience in a child's life as an opportunity to link the child's need to sex is part of the conditioning process. If this is your history it will be a journey of new experiences before your mind will be trained to receive comfort outside the context of sex. Often when we first open up to kindness from others our natural response is to return kindness, love, joy, etc. in the form of sex. In our mind and in a cult setting this is completely normal! But now we must learn about life outside the cult. Again, be kind to yourself. If you find yourself 'falling in love' with your female counselor, invite yourself to examine mother bonds - either the lack of or incestuous one or whatever you had. Invite the Lord in to fill those needs.

Often sexual tension and erratic emotions are a clue that more release is needed. It is ok to share your experience and conflicts with a good counselor. A healthy counselor will understand projection and maintain healthy boundaries while giving you space to process the past in the context of the present and explore your true needs. Often there may be infant states yearning for a mother's love and trying to get that in the form of a lesbian relationship with the counselor (which may be all that aspect of you has ever known) instead of being fully present and becoming aware of the reality that the body is now several decades older and the love needed can be found within the Lord and within one's own person. The true need is to be fully present and restored to the body in the moment.

In time and with more release the triggers, needs and pains lessen and we are able to learn how to enjoy touch in healthy ways, allowing new memories to be formed. Physical touch is beautiful and a gift from God.


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