Bipolar_Flower

Can tactile defensiveness be caused by trauma?

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I can't stand touch. I'm very uncomfortable with it. And sometimes terrified. My trauma? It's not something like rape or purposeful abuse. It's something a lot of kids go through but aren't traumatized by-some may actually like. Tickling. I felt taken advantage of, vulnerable, defenseless, I just wanted to die, and I was only a kid and I already wanted to curl up and vanish from existence. But it ruins my relationships with people. I actually was afraid-because I was tickled so long this one time-that I was gonna die. In the grocery store today I got upset-people stared-because my mom touched me. I felt attacked. 

 

I looked up touch sensitivity and found sensory defensiveness then found specifically tactile defensiveness. It fit. But can it be caused by trauma? I don't usually call it a trauma because well it's nothing like purposeful abuse but trauma is a reaction to an experience so it's the only word I can think of that fits. 

Edited by Bipolar_Flower

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When someone does something to your body that you don't want - takes that control away from you, and takes away your right to your body and your personal space - of course that's traumatic.  Just because something is fun to some people, doesn't mean that it's okay to do it to someone who doesn't want it.

 

I think it makes perfect sense that you would be having the experience that you are having. 

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As Tryp said, when someone does something unwanted to your body, it can be very traumatic. Whether or not it was "meant" to be traumatic is kind of irrelevant. 

 

I just want to say, I can really relate. My dad used to abuse me by tickling me until I cried and felt like I was going to die. Then he'd get mad at me for crying. My ex boyfriend also used to squeeze me and tickle me until I felt like I was going to die. Then he'd get mad at me and say I was ruining his fun. They never listened to me when I said stop. 

 

To me, tickling is NOT fun or funny. It can easily become a method of abusing someone because it immobilizes the person being tickled. 

 

I am also now sensitive to certain kinds of touch. I cannot stand having my hips touched, because that's where I used to be squeezed. 

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I think I understand. I wig out if people touch me too. I jump and take a step or two or three back. I feel violated all over again.

I especially hate being touched in sensitive areas. That makes me feel it all over again too. I don't know if that will ever go away.

My trauma is different though. I've been raped and my dad did some stuff that I don't like to think about. :(

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I don't like to be touched, really. I can push it aside for a few seconds to hug a close friend or relative. But we are talking 3 seconds, only around the shoulders. My dad did some things that made me uncomfortable as a kid and I was beaten too. I don't know if i will ever get over the no touching thing, I can't kiss my husband either.

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To me, tickling is NOT fun or funny. It can easily become a method of abusing someone because it immobilizes the person being tickled. 

 

 

^this.

 

who cares if it's not called "trauma".  i know i'll never forget my father doing this to me and screaming at me because i would cry instead of laugh (or not cry or laugh at all, after i became stone to him in general, it still made him hella angry).  it was terrifying, physically VERY uncomfortable, and now if anyone tries to tickle me i actually punch them out of reflex.  i've hit more than one friend in the face for this.  they don't do it again.

 

OP, i'm sorry you are so resistant to touch now.  it is a very big deal.  i hope you can find some therapy that helps.  i wouldn't want you to go through life hating to be touched at all.  i wouldn't hesitate to take this to a trauma therapist who knows how to work with physical/sensory issues.

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Yes I agree to bring this up with your tdoc. That is a great idea. Hopefully your tdoc can help you feel better about being touched or at least ways to cope.

 

I wish I would bring it up already with my tdoc, but I'm finding it hard because my tdoc is not equipped to handle my trauma IMO. He just isn't a good tdoc. I have requested to see my old tdoc, but she is working with addictions now and I don't know if that will be possible.

 

Anyways, I wish you luck on your journey. Keep us posted.

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being tickled or grabbed always makes me jump and scream out.  i HATE it.  i have to remind my BF every once in a while that it's not ok, even though he doesn't mean anything by it and is just trying to be affectionate.  

 

just wanted to say i understand.

 

shim

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Simple answer, as has been said: yes.

 

My particular tactile defensiveness is related to physical abuse, but that in no way makes my trauma or defensiveness "more real" or "more valid" than yours.  You're right, trauma is a reaction to an experience.

 

Even with something like "hey don't touch and don't 'pretend smack' my face b/c my stepmother used to beat me there" I've encountered an awful lot of dismissive attitudes.  One ex heard me relating to a friend about the "no pretend smacking my face" thing and why, and then proceeded to try it out on their own, because of COURSE a trigger from trauma would know that it's my romantic partner doing it and totally not flashback to any of my traumatic experiences, right?  Pfft.  If only it worked that way.  I tried to explain but this person just did not ever seem to understand and definitely took it personally.

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I can relate.  Sometimes physical touch bothers me because of my history of sexual abuse.  I have been known to slap/kick/elbow my partner for snuggling up or trying to get fresh while I am asleep.  I feel bad, but he knows he runs that risk if he comes near me while I am asleep.  He doesn't hold a grudge. 

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Once, a group of people from my school held me down in the back of a (moving) bus and tickled me relentlessly. It was horrible. I kept screaming to get them to stop but they just kept laughing and tickling me. There was an adult driving the bus who did nothing at all to help me either ? They just assumed it was Teens Having Fun. I cried after they finally stopped and they told me i was overreacting. Now, i also suffer from tactile defensiveness (from other people's touch + my own touch,, its awful) and I physically can't lay in a certain positions (example, laying with my arms up/somehow a vulnerable way) for more than a few seconds. It really messed me up :/ 

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I only get tactile defensiveness in situations that remind me of living with my ex. It's very lonely to be single.

He used to tickle me for extended periods every day as part of the abuse. He freely told me that he enjoyed it on a sexual level, which is pretty chilling when you think about it. At the time I would be saying over and over "please stop, I really don't like this" but there was nothing I could do because he was bigger and stronger than me. He would say really creepy things like "you keep saying 'no' but I know you secretly like it". Or he would smirk and demand praise if he had "stopped himself" from tickling me for 2 or 3 days. His favourite thing was to create a dynamic where he would do things to me (by sneakiness or by force) that we both knew full well would massively upset me, but he would find ways of making me superficially smile while he did it. Either it would be in public so I felt like I couldn't make a scene, or he'd be verbally nasty if I looked sad or cried. He did later progress into traditional sexual abuse (unwanted groping, horrible sexual comments, coercion, also rape a couple of times) but that only came up later, once he felt like he had me on the hook. If any future partners tickle me after I've said no and explained why, I'll ghost them immediately. I don't care if we'll have been together for a year, I'll just block them and that's the end of it.

 

Tickling is genuinely weird and scary, because it gives the other person complete control over your body. If it's an adult you trust it can be kind of fun to explore your limits, but if someone's doing to humiliate or degrade you then it's worse than physical violence, in my opinion. Plenty of people enjoy sex or S&M, but it should never be forced onto someone who has said no. Anyone who gets off on carrying on after the recipient has clearly said they don't like it is fucked up in the head, and I would be watching them closely for signs of other messed up behaviour.

 

If you felt like you were going to die then I'd call that pretty traumatic! No wonder your body is still on high alert, if that happened and the people around you are still touching you in ways you don't want. It must be very frustrating that your mum doesn't understand.

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My ex tickled me (prior to a s*xual interaction, although I didn't know that part was going to happen at the time) even though I asked them to stop. Numerous times. It was just too much and I really didn't enjoy it at all. A missed red flag I guess. When I mentioned it on a blog some months later (saying it was weird and I didn't like it), they completely went off on me ('you have no idea what actual violation is' 'it isn't as bad as the things I've been through' etc). I think people underestimate it because it seems so childish and 'playful' but like everything else it can just be another weapon an abusive person can use against you.

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