Thursday, July 21, 2011

Speaking out about “yucky feelings”.

I was in my late 20s.
I was articulate.
I had the support of my parents as an equal.
My mother and I have a strong bond of trust.
And it STILL took me two days to say “hey, does X hold you too long when you hug?”
It took me two days to figure out how to verbalise it and get up the courage to say something about this lovely man whom we all respect.
It took me two days to figure out if saying something was worse than not saying something.

And I was strong and powerful and knew my boundaries and legalities and moralities and all the players involved.

The sense of relief when Mum said “yes, and you don’t have to hug him if you don’t want to” was palpable.
Not just from me, but from everyone involved in the conversation.
Because we had all been a bit worried, and no one had said anything.
It is strange to think that even as an adult I needed reassurance that if I didnt want to hug someone I didnt have to.

It made me think again about how hard it must be for adults or children who are not in a position of power or trust. Such as those who are in care for mental health or disabilities, or children, who’s’ voices are not heard as clearly because of their age.

Speaking out is HARD. You risk someone else’s reputation as well as your own.
You risk hurting others.
You risk being ignored and not being able to raise it later.

Next time someone's kid doesnt want to give you a hug or a kiss, dont let the parents tell them to do it. Let them raise their own boundries - because how else will they feel confident enough to say no when they need to, if they dont practice on safe people??

So I just want to say it again.
Because some people who read here are adults. Some are young. Some are people who look after vulnerable/young people.

If you don’t like it, it’s NOT ok.
And the response to “does X make you feel uncomfortable/ touch you funny / hold you too long / creep you out” should always be to supportively listen to the person raising concern, and allow them to choose their own boundaries.

Because we have them for a reason.
And that is ALWAYS ok.


  1. Hmmmm...

    Did the other adults think that "he" was a too long hugger just to you? Did they already think that about him, but just never said it (that would irritate me)?

  2. I'm never comfortable with parents telling their children to hug or kiss me (not that I've ever been aware of the child not wanting to but still...). Why do parents do that? Especially when you're a virtual stranger? Do they think it is cute? Trying to teach/encourage affection?

    I've never asked them not to, not wanting to embarrass anyone, but perhaps I will from now on.


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