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I Can’t Stand to Be Touched

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From Finland: Hi, thanks for reading me.

As a child I was sexually abused, first a neighbor, then when I was 11 my father. When everything blow up, my father talked to me and explained that he had alcoholism, but now he was sober, and it’ll never happen again. My family continued as a normal family, until my mom finally divorced him several years later.

I developed bipolar disorder with psychotic features, and my adult life has been a roller coaster, but I get along with my both parents, as a normal relationship, the subject is rarely mentioned. I did not blame them for the past, but finding a way to get stable has been hard, and most of the times they have been absent in my crisis.

This last year I’ve been working with a new therapist, and she has helped me a lot with my “weird ideas,” and voices, etc. I’ve been doing a big effort to grasp the reality, my reality. As a result, I am getting more functional, and starting to desire things, like having friends, or maybe a boyfriend. But there’s an issue, I can’t stand being touched, that’s one of the reasons my relationships never work.

And with it, I’m feeling really angry, specially at my dad, because of what he did, I know is totally out of time, but is there, I can’t hardly see him, I can’t stand him, actually I’m moving to another state, to be far away from him.

I tried to talk to him. I was like, I understand it was your alcoholism, and wasn’t your intention, and you have changed a lot since then, but I feel it had consequences. He told me it was in the past, that I had to let it go, etc.

And now I don’t know what to do, I feel guilty for being so mad, but I am. I feel I’m being unfair. All I want to do is keep my stability and being able to relate to others, but don’t know how.
Help me please.


I Can’t Stand to Be Touched

Answered by on -


It’s not at all unusual for a person who has been sexually abused to have fears about being touched. It’s not inappropriate for you to continue to be angry. It’s not realistic or appropriate for your father to believe you can just “let go” of what he did to you. His explanation that “alcohol made me do it” is how he is avoiding his responsibility for hurting you. He still owes you a heartfelt apology.

You can’t afford to wait for that apology to get on with your own life. It may never come. Even if he did apologize, you still are left with the consequences of being abused by a man you trusted. The good news is that you can heal without his apology, permission or participation.

You’ve made marked progress in your therapy. I am so glad you found a therapist you can really talk to and work with. Your letter didn’t indicate why you wrote to us here at PsychCentral instead of talking to her about this issue. I’m guessing that discussions about abuse, touch and sex are particularly scary for you and your letter is a first step in dealing with them.

To me, your letter shows you are ready to go to the next level of treatment. You have done impressive and important work so far. You have allowed yourself to trust a therapist and become an active participant in your treatment. Your letter shows you to be intelligent and sensitive. My vote is for you to take a deep breath, find your inner courage, and talk to the therapist who has been so helpful to you. It might help if you shared your letter and this response with the therapist as a way to introduce the topic.

From what you told me about your therapy experience so far, I have every reason to believe that your therapist will help you manage these issues with sensitivity and good support.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

I Can’t Stand to Be Touched

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). I Can’t Stand to Be Touched. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 6, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 25 Jun 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.