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Massage for a Different Kind of Survivor

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. The statistics provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence may shock you:

Ever year 10 million American women and men are victims of domestic violence. On average, nearly 20 people a minute are physically abused by an intimate partner.

A woman is assaulted or beaten every 9 seconds.

1 in 5 women have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Massage therapists work closely with people and sometimes we can accidentally trigger something for some individuals who have survived this kind of trauma without knowing about the client’s past. A great example of how massage therapists try to prevent a triggering event is to use only one hand at a time to massage the neck and being aware of hand placement.

If you are a survivor and interested in receiving a massage but aren’t sure what to expect; have a conversation with your therapist or counselor to see if massage will help and ask if there are any massage therapists that they may know about that are trained. What you say to your massage therapist doesn’t leave the room. Let them know if there are certain areas that you are not physically or emotionally ready to be touched (and you don’t need to share anything that makes you uncomfortable). You don’t have to go into details about what happened to you and you share as much as you are comfortable sharing. The massage is meant to help you heal, not relive your experiences.

So, how does massage help?

Massage therapy for individuals suffering from PTSD can benefit from the physical relief that massage can provide (i.e. tight muscles, stiffness) as well as the psychological benefits of massage such as relaxation, alleviation of stress and anxiety. Communication is very important. If you are not comfortable or feel safe at any point during your session, let your therapist know and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Massage provides a feeling of safety and control.

“Massage therapy allows people to experience positive, non-violent touch in a therapeutic environment.”

                             -Kristin Coverly LMT of Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals