BLOG for Youth & Teens. God gave us our sense of touch, a beautiful way to experience the world around us. However, it's important to know our personal boundaries and take time to identify our circles of intimacy.
Note- This lesson is focused on “appropriate touch” in our relation to others. A separate blog will focus on personal sexual integrity.
“Why do men and women like love? The human body consists of trillions of cells, and when one is in love these cells move as a whole. You should know that the time when a man and a woman are in love is the time when all the cells of the human body move together.”
- Rev. Sun Myung Moon (First CSG, pp. 476-7, Blessed Family - 376)
You are wonderfully made. God takes so much joy in seeing you. When you were first born your parents couldn't help but notice how perfect you were. You are special and valuable, always remember that.
When God created us, He envisioned the day we would finally meet our partner and join together in a blissful union. To draw you together He created your senses that would be set on fire when you connected with your true love.
Our senses are amazing, they let us analyze our surroundings, sense danger and more importantly enjoy the world around us. One way we experience our world is through touch.
Touch is such an amazing sensation. "God gave us the gift of touch through our hands and skin. We can feel excitement when doing something daring or feeling something new, love and comfort through a hug or cuddle, and connection and affirmation through a handshake or a high five. Touch can also be experienced through our mouths. Even textures and temperatures of food can stimulate us. "We love to feel things even if we don't notice it all the time. Not only with our hands but even textures of foods stimulate us.
While touch can give us some of the greatest stimulation it can also make us feel gross or even hurt us. Think of that time you picked up a slug that was all slimy, ewwww. Sometimes we touch things and it affects us to our very core.
Sometimes touch can have a negative affect on you. Touch can hurt like being burnt by a fire or scraping your knee on the ground. A negative touch can also come from people in your life, some you know and some you do not know. This can come in the form of hitting, pinching, kicking or unwanted sexual contact.
There are people that don't truly care for you. They see you and think what you can do for them. Sometimes these are people that act like they care for you but they do not.
Some people, whether a coach, teacher, a classmate or even a family member may try to touch you in an inappropriate way. This is NEVER ok. They may reassure you and say it's not a big deal but it is. Anyone that touches you in an unwanted way does not truly care for you.
Each one of us has a personal space that needs to be respected. Never should someone make you feel shameful or uncomfortable about your body.
SET YOUR BOUNDARIES
Your body is a gift from God. No one has a right to touch it. You need to be clear about what is and isn’t allowed.
There are various circles of intimacy that each one of us has. For each circle there are good and bad touches.
A simple rule to follow is the bathing suit rule. Whatever body parts are covered by your bathing suit are off limits. The parts covered by your swimsuit are holy and personal to you. One day they will belong to your future spouse. Until then, you want to preserve your sexual organ (and chest for girls) for the explosive beautiful touch from your future husband or wife. Until then, only a parent (caregiver) or health worker has permission and only for medical or hygiene needs.
>>Consider your Levels of intimacy
Clarify your personal space. You are valuable and no one should touch you without your permission.
Identify people that are close to you; parents, siblings and close friends. What are appropriate ways for them to show affection to you.
Identify people that you are acquainted with. Friends from school, teammates, teachers and coaches. What are appropriate ways they can show affection? What is too far?
Identify strangers or people you do not personally know; neighbor, store clerk, people in the park. For these people touch is not appropriate beyond a hand shake.
>>Identify your circles
The first is the inner circle. Your inner circle loves and respects you. They may want to hug and kiss you and when they do, you feel secure and loved. You may like to cuddle them on the couch or wrestle around with them. This touch is appropriate with your close family.
The second is friends and extended family. You may want to hug them, high five or shake hands. This let’s them know you care about them but protects your privacy. At school, we relate with our peers every day. We grow close and truly care about our circle of friends. Sometimes the more we get to know someone, the more beautiful they become. It’s important to know our personal boundaries when it comes to friends. Remembering that one simple touch can easily lead to another and another. A lot of it comes down to our personal motivation- remember to check yourself and your intentions. Finding friends with similar values and life goals can help you in keeping your goals for purity.
The third is teachers, coaches, teammates and classmates. They don’t know you deeply but may want to high five or shake your hands in encouragement. Sometimes when you need support they may put their hand on your shoulder or hug briefly, this is all appropriate for this type of relationship.
Outside of these relationships are strangers, you don’t owe them any physical contact. Shaking hands is appropriate but more than that is too much. These aren’t necessarily good or bad people but you don’t know them well enough to know the difference.
>>Keep Yourself and others safe
Choose Your Environments- Put yourself in activities and places where you feel comfortable. For example, if you’re invited to a party that you know includes underage drinking, no adults are present or other activities you're not comfortable with- don’t go.
Open Door Rule- As much as possible, keep yourself in a public space. If you’re in a home setting or it’s after school hours and you’re hanging out one on one with someone else- always keep the door open. It protects you.
Hang Out in Threes- To protect yourself, hang out in groups of three or more.
Check in: Always let your parent or guardian know where you are, who you are with and when you are expected to be home. If you will be late, change location or group you are with let them know as well. Open lines of communication are the best support.
Code Name: Come up with a code name or phrase. If you ever want to discuss something in private with your parents- you can text or say the code name- and they’ll know. It can also be used as a “call for help” message. Sending the code as a text to your parent or trusted adult, if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation or you’re in trouble. What will your code be?
Treat everyone kindly but no one has a right to your body.
I hope that you are safe and are able to protect these boundaries. If you ever feel that someone has overstepped and come too close let them know. Always tell a trusted adult in your safety network- a parent, or trusted adult like a teacher, coach, pastor or close family member.
Unwanted touch is identified as sexual molestation. This type of touch can make you feel dirty and shameful. This type of touch is used for someone else’s twisted sexual impulses. The sexual advances are not a reflection of you but the predator.
If someone has touched you in such an inappropriate way it is not your fault. It does not make you fallen or sinful that someone else abused you.
Remember you are not dirty or broken because someone overstepped. God can heal all situations. The sooner you address molestation or unwanted sexual advancement the sooner you can be healed. God and your parents always have, always do and always will love you.
Your teenage years are filled with new experiences. Keep close with you parents so that they can help you navigate this part in your growth.
Take time to write down the people in your circle and identify what you are comfortable with in each group. Talk about this with your parents and be on the same page.
Take time to think about the way you want to feel when you meet your future spouse. Remember that feeling when you are asked to cross a boundary and use that image to give you strength to say no.
Take a moment to talk to God, ask for strength and awareness to protect your body for the sake of true love.
If you wonder if a touch you received before was inappropriate, talk to your parents immediately. Be honest and trust in their love for you.
God has a plan for each of us. The more clear we are the easier it will be for Him to guide you. You are wonderfully made, a gift to the world. Live like you believe it.
Teenagers & Sexual Abuse VIDEO: