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SHOWING UP AT A TOUCH-BASED HEALTH CARE PRACTICE IS NOT CONSENT FOR TOUCHING MY INTIMATE ZONES



I’m wondering why most healthcare practitioners (doctors, kinésitherapists, and other bodyworkers) are not getting educated in trauma-sensitive work.

They’re supposed to assist people in their health and facilitate healing in people’s bodies, but the whole impact of trauma on people’s symptoms and even more in the treatment seems none-existed for many.

‘Medical’ touch without specific verbal consent is so normalized and is a huge problem, in my opinion.

My reason for writing this post today is that I just got home upset from an example of what I’m saying here.

I go for weekly sessions with a fascia-kinésist, who helps me with my body and the chronic pains I’m experiencing. For this week's session, our calendar didn’t match, so we decided I’d go to her male colleague. Without much communication, he immediately started working on my hip area. (I’m assuming she passed on the word of where we worked last week.)

Less than 5 minutes into the session, he pulled out the pillow from under my knees, manipulated my legs in a position where he placed one hand on my lower belly and the other one in between my legs, ordering me to lift my bum, and placed his hand on my ass and tailbone. I was laying on my back, so my body was pressing into his hand on the table. Again no communication whatsoever. I felt my body contracting, stopping to breathe. I felt the freeze and confusion.


Thoughts were: “If he needed to reach my tailbone, why not come from the side as his colleague was always doing?” and “I don’t feel comfortable with this position, is it safe to say something about it, and what do I know about my safety in this situation?” “If it is a totally regular/normal position to perform, why is he not announcing such intimate touch first before doing it?”


Anyway, one of the main reasons for doing this therapy is also to relax and be in my body. But his actions jumped me right to the head and trauma responses.

My lower back immediately got blocked, from what happened, and when I said I felt pain on one side, the only response I got that it was normal.

I continued to feel frozen till the point of not being able to express it at the moment. I will talk with them next week.


The point is, I paid for a treatment today that did more harm to my body than it did well. This might happen to a lot of people and is so often being dismissed as something that is normal or a necessity.

I would love more awareness in bodyworkers, that placing your hands so intimately in the 5 minutes of meeting someone new without communication is not okay for a lot of bodies.

Your degree of knowledge on touching bodies is not a passage for touching me without consent. My intention of releasing tension in my whole body is not an invitation to touch my intimate parts, pelvic area without notice.

The same goes for the gynecologist who’s in my memory for picking up and calling on the phone with someone (I think his assistant) while I was still open with my legs on the table and simultaneously with his phone call he gave me a diagnosis, feeling quite vulnerable. I mentioned to him at the start of the consultation that I experienced a lot of trauma in my life and I need him to be slow, communicate all his actions and preferably stay in presence with me.


I don’t understand how all of this is so normal and I have numerous more examples like this, just and only from my own experience alone.


I perform a lot of therapeutic bodywork in the last few years, but what is normal to me is naming and asking for the touch I’m performing.

“I will be touching your shoulder now.”

“I’ll touch your pelvic bone in a moment, know that in any moment when it doesn’t feel right to you, you can say no-stop-or take my hand of your body at any time.”


Stuff like this. When I do intimate work and edgy stuff like tantra-massage with my clients I’m in constant communication upfront about their boundaries and often reminding them in the session about it as well. Always checking breath and body signals if I doubt. So yeah, this is my standard for therapeutic and medical bodywork. Is that too much to ask? I would love to create more awareness about trauma-sensitive work in medical education systems.


If there is any healthcare worker reading this and realizing they haven’t given much thought about this, please look up a consent or trauma-informed education course. There are plenty of good ones.



Thank you for reading my expression here.

Love,

Minne


PS: Thank you to all aid workers who have respected my body's boundaries. They of course also exist and are out there doing amazing work.


PSS: I would love to excuse myself to any person/body who I haven’t been so attend fully to as I believe I’m now. It’s been a learning curve without many good examples and making mistakes is, unfortunately, part of that. I’m sorry you had to be part of that.

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