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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Support Groups » What happened to me?

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Author Topic: What happened to me?
Magdali Mine
Neophyte
Member # 11756

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I had a traumatic experience when I was eighteen years old and am still dealing with its effects, and part of the problem for me is that I don't know how to describe what happened to other people, when I don't want to give the details but to talk about it in a more general way. Sometimes I feel as though I could have a better handle on it if I could just put a name to it, to be able to say "I'm a survivor of [X]". It'd also be helpful in finding support communities for other people who've gone through the same thing, which I think would be nice. So few people I've talked to about it have ever believed me -- it would be nice to find a group of people who know that nobody in their right mind would ever make up something like this. Can anyone help me with this?

It happened when I was eighteen, a virgin, and having my first pelvic exam and pap smear. The doctor forced a normal-size, unlubricated speculum (it'd only been rinsed in cold water) inside me, told me to stop whimpering because it's not like it was any bigger than a man is, and didn't stop the exam even after I started crying.

During the bimanual part of the exam, she pressed my ovaries and asked if there was any pain, and when I said no, pressed harder until there was, saying that whichever one hurt more now was the one I'd ovulate from next. She had this weird tone to her voice when she said all this, like she was totally ignoring my crying and noises of pain -- it was almost like she wasn't hearing me at all, but somebody else who was only feeling a little normal discomfort and was just curious about what she was doing. It was like she was hearing Suzie Q. Normal going "Gee, doc, what's this part of the exam for? Really? Golly! Neato!", and replying to that instead of me begging her to STOP.

I keep having to stop and delete more of the story because it's all pouring out of me. I'm nearly 22 now and I've never really had a chance to talk to anybody about this before -- I tried to tell my mom about in on the ride home afterward, but she just clammed up and acted like she wasn't hearing me either. Nobody I've ever tried to tell about this before has ever believed me, except for my wonderful boyfriend. He's been nothing but loving and supportive about all this, but I can't put the whole burden of helping me deal with this on him.

So what is it that happened to me? I don't feel right saying it was rape or sexual assault, but I don't know what else to describe it as. Looking up "medical abuse" on the net just gives me stories about neglect and overmedication in nursing homes, or the personal pages of delusional crazies who think the CIA is monitoring them through their fillings. I know I can't be the only person this has happened to, and I know that if I could put a name to it, I could find other people who've been through the same. I'm going to go see a therapist soon, I think, but in the meantime it would still be good to really know that I'm not alone and that there are other people who won't immediately dismiss me as some kind of hysterical liar about all this.

Thank you for giving people the opportunity to ask about things like this.

[This message has been edited by Magdali Mine (edited 02-07-2003).]

[This message has been edited by Magdali Mine (edited 02-07-2003).]

[This message has been edited by Magdali Mine (edited 02-07-2003).]


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britt0285
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Member # 11036

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I think that it is definately normal for you to feel violated. The event that took place should have never continued after you expressed discomfort.
It is normal to feel betrayed by your doctor, because in most people eyes your doctor is supposed to be someone you can trust.
This has never happened to me during an examination so I am not able to relate to your experience.
However, I am pretty positive that if you asked her to stop, she would have to stop. She should not be able to continue without your permission.
I think that is important that you are trying to confront this instead of hiding your feelings. It will definately help your healing process.
Sorry I could not have been more of help. I hope that your therapy sessions help.

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Magdali Mine
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Member # 11756

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Thank you for your kind words. You're right that it felt like a betrayal -- a little discomfort and awkwardness is normal for a first gyn exam, what happened to me wasn't.

The part that makes me so angry is that when I went to her for a second exam -- I lived in a rural small town and my mother didn't believe I had a reason to see anyone further away, so even after that, she was the only gynecologist available -- she acted like she had no idea it had ever happened. I started crying on the table again, partly because of having to be in that place and in that position under that person's control and partly because I tensed up so badly that it hurt as much as the first time, and she put on this compassionate "oh, honey, I see you've been sexually violated in the past, but take deep yogic breaths, visualize a lightbulb in your abdomen that glows with every inhale, and remember that this is a permitted touch, for your benefit, not like whatever was done to you in the past" act that just sickened me. No amount of f*cking yogic breathing or visualizing my power animal or whatever was going to make me forget what she did to me, and in some sick way, I was angry that she didn't even remember that SHE was the one who violated me. Does that make any sense? :\

[This message has been edited by Magdali Mine (edited 02-07-2003).]


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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Magdali --

Give me a day or two to do some digging for you. I'm fairly certain there are some good resources and support systems for people who have been -- as you have -- abused by a doctor or clinician.

Because yes, you're not alone in this. I'm so terribly sorry this happened to you -- it's a tough thing to grapple with, especially given it doesn't fit neatly into any of the typical "abuse" boxes.

------------------
Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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Kangae Kaeru
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Member # 11526

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Gaah.. this sounds way too familiar >_< I should probably wait for Miz Scarlet to dig up more information, but let me tell you this: You're not the only one.

I had a rather nasty experience with my last exam. The fact that there was an ovarian cyst (which then ruptured, ouch) only complicated matters- and so many doctors don't seem to understand that they are causing pain, no matter how many times you tell them.


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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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There's not a whole lot out there, and some of it is tricky, but to be honest, given what you've described (including the yogic breathing and visualization, which is more than a little hinky in a GYN office), it's hard to know where to go with this. Using an unlubed speculum certainly isn't standard, and telling a patient to stop whimpering in that way is terrible, terrible bedside manner (and very odd, esp. considering it came out of the mouth of the same woman talking about breathing). Some of what you've said she said is more than a little questionable. But unless there's more you haven't said here, we aren't talking about sexual abuse per se, but perhaps we are talking about possible malpractice or something very close to it (perhaps even a doctor with a personality disorder). Is there a name for that? Save "patient abuse" or "medical abuse," not really, not that I know of or could find. Not sure ttrying to give it one would really be of as much help to you as you'd think, though.
http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art273.asp

You'll find a PDF file of an OB/GYN code of ethics here: http://www.acog.org/from_home/acogcode.pdf

If you're looking for extra support, ask your new therapist about support groups for other abuse survivors or people who have dealt with very poor or callous treatment from doctors. Like I said, given what you've said, I have a very hard time determining if we're actually talking about sexual abuse here or not.

Might be worth a start looking here to determine that for yourself: http://www.rainn.org/

------------------
Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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Magdali Mine
Neophyte
Member # 11756

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I'm sorry I haven't been back here in a while -- busy with other things -- but thank you so much for trying to find some information for me, Miz Scarlet. Really just being able to get some of it off my chest here has helped a lot more than I thought it might, so thank you too for creating a place like this in the first place. You and the rest of the Scarleteen team are doing so much good for so many people.

I don't really think it was sexual abuse, either -- nothing she did felt as though it had any kind of sexual overtone to it. I guess you're right that putting a name to it might not be as much help as I'd hoped. You're also right that it seems to be a case of her having some sort of personality disorder -- other people in my family who go to her have mentioned the weird way she talks to you seemingly with no reference to anything you've actually said, so it's not as though she was just having some kind of "off" day when all that happened. Anyway, I'll definitely ask my therapist about support groups.

Thank you so much again for helping me out with this, and thanks so much for Scarleteen being here in the first place.


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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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You're welcome.

I'd also suggest that you talk to your therapist about making a report to your local licensing board.

While you can certainly choose if you get to see her again, new patients may have no idea of what appears to be going on, so in making a report, not only can you do something proactive that may help you feel a lot better, for yourself, you can perhaps help to get this looked into and prevent it from happening to someone else.

To boot, the others members of your family who see her might want to look into a new doctor, simply for the sake of protecting their health. A doctor who doesn't seem to be lucid just isn't a safe doctor to be having.

------------------
Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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