T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 45568
posted 03-25-2010 03:21 PM
Yesterday I had my first pelvic exam/pap smear. I have PTSD from past abuse and, as I feared, I dissociated, and afterward had a really bad panic attack to the point that I hyperventilated and passed out. When I woke up my doctor gave me benzodiazepine. I had asked how long I would have to wait in the office before I could drive myself home, and she said I would make it back in time for my next class two hours later. After I had taken it and slept it off for a bit and was ready to leave, she said that it actually wasn't safe for me to drive for six hours, and that we both could get in a lot of trouble if I got pulled over by the police. So I stayed for about another hour until she had time to talk with me between patients.
This is where my issue with her really starts. She asked if I could have someone take me home, and I said I didn't have anyone that I would feel comfortable seeing me like that. Then she said that I'm alone because I don't let people be close to me. I disagreed to some extent. But then she went on again (she didn't really give me an opportunity to talk the whole time, even though I really needed to) and said that 25% of girls had been abused, and that my reaction was abnormal. She then went on again and lectured about how I'm not doing enough to deal with it. I explained that I'd tried medication and had a really bad experience with therapy in the past. There are also other factors that would make therapy very stressful for me right now, which I told her about. I also told her that it was unfair for her to tell me that I'm not doing enough when I feel that I've handled things the best I know how. Then I just left and drove myself home because I was too angry to stay. It felt like she was saying that what happened to me was normal, and that the way I reacted was what was alarming. I'm usually very hard on myself, but I honestly think I've done alright considering everything. So my question is, was she out of line in saying those things to me, and should I find a new doctor?
Member # 3
posted 03-25-2010 03:38 PM
Can I ask if you had informed this doctor in advance of your exam that you were an abuse survivor? If you did, can you tell me what her response was?
Mind, I want to make sure you know no matter what the answers to those questions are that I feel what she said to you was COMPLETELY out of line, profoundly insensitive, and really crap practice. I'm so, so glad to hear you were able to speak up for yourself. And yes, I would say that this does not sound like a doctor to see again.
Member # 45568
posted 03-25-2010 03:42 PM
Thanks for your quick response!
Yeah, my mom told her when I first started seeing her, about four years ago. She was pretty sensitive about it, but she kept harping on the 25% statistic then too, which has always seemed like she was minimizing what happened to me. I think those were some of the most hurtful things anyone could have possibly said to me, especially then.
Member # 3
posted 03-25-2010 03:49 PM
I can certainly see that they would be.
Given she knew about your history, that really makes everything that went down and how she handled it even worse. Personally, if you feel up to it, I'd suggest filing a report with the medical board. In my opinion, if this is a person telling survivors she can provide them good care without bias, she is either being dishonest or is lacking a self-awareness around the issue and her ability to work with traumatized patients that is very critical. For the record, in case you need to hear it, yes, about one in four of us have been abused. However, I'm not sure what that has to do with anything besides being something to tell someone (once) who feels they are alone in experiencing abuse. And your reaction is not something I would even remotely call abnormal. Post-traumatic stress after abuse or assault is profoundly common, and that absolutely includes being triggered. A pelvic exam being triggering to a sexual abuse survivor happens often, and all the more so with providers or in contexts where that person does not feel safe and is not being served/treated appropriately when it comes to having been traumatized. I'm so sorry that this went down like this.
Member # 45568
posted 03-25-2010 03:58 PM
I don't think I will file a report, because I really like her as a person, but I do not think I will be going back.
I do think the fact that I had been in situations with providers misusing their authority made the whole thing more triggering. I didn't think about that, but it makes sense. Thank you so much for letting me know that my reaction was normal. You have no idea how much better I feel now. It's been eating me up all day. Also, I've always been curious about that statistic. If so many cases go unreported, how can they come up with that?
Member # 3
posted 03-25-2010 04:11 PM
In terms of the one in four stat, that comes not just from reporting (and when someone says reporting, they mean filing a police report), but also from what women self-report anecdotally or in other settings (as well as rapists and witnesses), medical evidence and other studies and surveys. One other thing to suggest: if you do like this doctor as a person, and want some more resolution, writing her a personal letter is also an option. You might want to include a link like this: http://www.ibiblio.org/rcip/medtm.html