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To not know what to do about inappropriate sexual behaviour.

(87 Posts)
Seenthelightnow Thu 02-Nov-17 08:32:23

I did post this in Chat last night but it's slipped off the first page and I am keen to get some responses so apologies for duplicate post.
I’m a paramedic, often working on my own obviously going into peoples homes. Virtually every week I experience some sort of sexually motivated behaviour. It ranges from the ‘ do you fancy a fuck.’ ‘would you like to hold my willy while I have a piss’ to physical grabbing and touching. That’s not even counting the elderly patients with dementia.
It happens to us all and we just extract ourselves from the situation and laugh it off but it frequently makes us feel uncomfortable and sometimes unsafe.

It wasn’t until recently when I saw a young, gay, male crewmate being propositioned by an elderly ( not dementia) patient in the most sexually explicit way, and how upset it made him feel, that I realised how much we normalise almost constant sexual harassment and assault when directed at women. Talking to my gay colleagues the above seems to be much less common.

Why is it that men, mainly in the 20-50 age range seem to think it’s amusing to make women feel uncomfortable and unsafe when we’re simply doing our job and is there anything we can do to prevent it or to feel safer?

Btw I have nc’d for this but have been around since 2007.

InternetHoopJumper Thu 02-Nov-17 08:37:44

It about power. They feel they are better than women so that's why they treat us this way. It is meant to put us in our place and they know they will get away with it. It also doesn't help that these scenarios feature in porn.

I am not sure about your gay male colleague though. Did the patient know he was gay? Do other male colleagues ever get treated like that?

ShatnersWig Thu 02-Nov-17 08:40:15

I don't know what the answer is. I do think at the moment there is a rush to judgement in some cases going on in the media. For example, Damian Green is being hounded for ALMOST touching a female family friend's knee whom he has known for years and years and for sending her an email asking her out for a drink having not seen her for a while but having seen her photo in a newspaper in a corset. He may or may not have had an ulterior motive to asking her for a drink, but as he has also known her for years, he may simply have been wanting to catch up. She sent lots of emails afterwards that were perfectly fine with him, but now she's complaining about it. Surely, if he's been a family friend and she was genuinely concerned, she could have had a quiet word?

I'm a man. I have had my bottom pinched. I have been sat next to women who have put her hand on my leg/knee several times. I totally accept that it will happen to women far, far, more than men, but it does happen.

That's one end. What you describe is much further down the spectrum and it should be zero tolerance. Quite how that is administered though, in different organisations, is difficult - especially as, with you say, dementia patients.

MancLife Thu 02-Nov-17 08:44:08

I work in the emergency services to and women can be no better. It’s a lack of respect for the authority as a whole and the expectation we’ll accept it as part of the job. Sadly, that’s exactly what has happens as there would be no medic/cops on the streets if we did complain every time.

However, it should be reported IMO even if it’s just so people can see how often it happens.

KarateKitten Thu 02-Nov-17 08:53:29

I wonder if it can be reported as a separate matter to the police. So yes, I'm your paramedic and will treat you but if you harass/assault me you can expect a visit from the police and possibly be prosecuted for it.

Seenthelightnow Thu 02-Nov-17 09:00:10

I'm pretty sure that the patient knew he was gay, I know that male colleagues do get inappropriate advances from female patients but are much more likely to report IMO and then a flag gets put on the address to prevent single male responders attending.
I would say that women have to experience a much higher level of abuse before a flag is attached.
We generally complete ignore the issue if the patient has dementia unless the abuse is very physical and the patient is younger and stronger.

justilou1 Thu 02-Nov-17 09:00:14

I think when you work with the general public you get a very skewed idea of what the real world is like. I was a flight attendant and was used to sexual harassment on a daily basis - and for a company that basically told everyone that they were there precisely for that purpose.

Not all men are like this. Trust me. I have a wonderful one.... I know many fabulous ones and they are all equally horrified and ashamed of their species when they hear things like this.

Perhaps you need to have a serious chat with management about this and come up with very strict guidelines about when you should be calling the police (who will no doubt take this very seriously as they are also on the frontline and in a similar service industry).

In Australia we give them one warning. Once they push their luck, it's up to the cops. (No matter how unhealthy they are at the time - you need to be safe.)

batfurger Thu 02-Nov-17 09:02:48

Not all men are like this. Trust me


they are all equally horrified and ashamed

NAMALT equivalent of changing your Facebook status and expecting it to stop terrorism

Seenthelightnow Thu 02-Nov-17 09:04:30

KarateKitten The problem is we would be constantly reporting and the police simply don't have the resources. If they happen to be on scene they always step in but most of these happen when we're solo responding.
I do think we don't report because it's so 'normal' and historically we are conditioned to accept this sort of behaviour but also we're scared of a retaliatory complaint which can ruin a career. It always comes down to your word against theirs and it is perceived that the patient is more likely to be believed by management.

Orangealien Thu 02-Nov-17 09:04:48

If people have called an ambulance, are they not in a desperate situation? However do they have the energy or wherewithal to do this sexual behaviour? Are you not allowed to walk out, being that if a bloke is inviting you to hold his willy, he must be not at death's door?

Seenthelightnow Thu 02-Nov-17 09:10:01

The majority of calls are for non life threatening emergencies these days but a large number of people know what to say to get an immediate response and that tends to be a car. The ambulance service is a female heavy service and chances are that responder will be female.
We are allowed to walk out if we feel in danger but that is taken to mean physical danger and people feel that their registrations are in danger if they refuse to treat a patient even if the patient is not in a life threatening condition.
i really don't know what the answer is. sad

justilou1 Thu 02-Nov-17 09:25:37

Threat of sexual assault IS physical danger. I think it's time you tighten up the policies regarding this with management. They can hide behind all kinds of "medical" excuses for this, but it's totally inexcusable. You went into this job with the intention to help people, right? Perhaps if these guys find themselves being sectioned for their behaviour, they might learn something! (I'm sure most of them minimise this kind of shit by blaming their mental health - why not reward their efforts with a lovely, tightly-fitted, white coat?)

Trafalgarxxx Thu 02-Nov-17 09:28:41

You are totally right and I would do what your male colleagues are doing. Report it. Ensure there is a flag so you don’t get there on your own.
You deserve to be able to work in an environment where you are not sexually harassed or assaulted.

As for ‘if paramedics were to report all of it, there would be no paramedics around’ well maybe then people would start to take notice and stop thinkingts acceptable.

Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g Thu 02-Nov-17 09:28:45

Would a headcam help? I'm sorry you have to put up with this. It's a tricky one. If people were prosecuted or fined for wasting emergency services' time, would that make a difference?

ArcheryAnnie Thu 02-Nov-17 09:30:28

Surely, if he's been a family friend and she was genuinely concerned, she could have had a quiet word?

Thing is, ShatnersWig, is that nothing women do or say is ever acceptable in these circs.

- Didn't say anything at the time, despite it making you uncomfortable/scared/embarrassed, etc? Well, you should have done, it's your own fault for not saying anything.

- Did say something at the time to him? Why can't you take a compliment, bitch? Why did you embarrass him - he was only trying to be nice? What's your problem - are you frigid? Or a lesbian? Or just stuck-up? You think you are too good for him? You should be glad of the attention!

- Did say something quietly at the time to someone else? Lynch mob! Kangaroo court! Where's your proof? Why didn't you say something to him at the time, then, if you hated his attention so much?

- Just ignored it? Why are you so rude? You must be stuck up/a lesbian/frigid. You are ugly anyway, bitch.

...and that's not even counting all the times women have been physically attacked, even killed, for rejecting or ignoring advances. There's a reason many women have learned to smile, appease, try to slip away, carry on being nice, rather than saying anything.

Kr1st1na Thu 02-Nov-17 09:31:10

I’m sorry that you are your colleagues have to deal with this. I think you need to report it every single time. And maybe ask for more training on how to deal it - for everyone I mean . Ask specifically if the policy and tolerance level is different from men and women - of course it won’t be but you need them to reinforce that and act upon it.

Trafalgarxxx Thu 02-Nov-17 09:33:30

Also, have a look. If this was happening in an office and a customer (not dementia patient) was touching you in that way, what wouod happened? Would it acceptable?
If you were tomreport it to the police, wouod it be sexual assault and threat to your safety?

I bet a lot of them would be.

Some police officer/security staff now wear some camera on them (gopro type of stuff?)nowdays. Would that be an option for paramedics too? I suspect this would stop a lot of those men in their tracks angry

Ollivander84 Thu 02-Nov-17 09:37:25

IRF every time and keep doing it. If you have an SP/AP locally then speak to them as well

Seenthelightnow Thu 02-Nov-17 09:39:54

Sadly I think this is the way they treat women in their day to day life.

I feel perfectly confident in bollocking the young pissed lads who do this, I'm in my 50s and have successfully bought up 3 teens so they get both barrels and then I phone their Mum. Hopefully that teaches them a lesson! I normally get a profuse apology.
The older men are different somehow, it's insidious and purposely designed to make women feel powerless. If challenged they bring out the 'it's only a joke, I was just being friendly' or 'you should be pleased someone wants to fuck you as you're old and ugly'
It's definitely got worse in the last 10 years and I feel increasingly saddened by it.

stopfuckingshoutingatme Thu 02-Nov-17 09:44:07

fuck me OP

I think paramedics so an amazing, valuable and critical job and I cant actually get my head around people that do this

this needs publicising, the world needs to know you have this. It needs to become socially unacceptable.

Now how you do this. I don't know but I am fucking disgusted you have to handle this

Id leave the fuckers to bleed to death angry

Morphene Thu 02-Nov-17 09:46:33

Another vote for very visible head cams.

I think the ambulance service could also run a campaign on it. They run adverts telling people when they should and shouldn't dial 999...why not add 'and no matter what state you are in, we won't be helping you if you sexually harass our staff'.

Chestervase1 Thu 02-Nov-17 09:49:34

Before I got to the bit where you are a paramedic I was going to say don’t get near anyone! I am very aware of anyone in my personal space but this doesn’t help you. Can you not refuse to treat the dirty old b*stards, if they know they can get away with it they won’t stop. Paramedic or actress it is completely unacceptable. Public opinion will be on your side.

Pumperthepumper Thu 02-Nov-17 09:52:05

I saw your chat thread last night and couldn't reply at the time, then couldn't find it this morning. I think it's a power thing too. They do it because they can. I also think report it every single time, and force management to acknowledge it's happening and that it needs dealt with.

The sexual harrassment scandals in the media just now are awful and I'm sorry the women had to go through that BUT the scale of it and the volume of women coming forward and (mostly) being believed is a good thing, I think. It's making it harder to deny that stuff like this happens to women all.the.time.

Sorry I don't have any practical advice, it's really shit flowers

brasty Thu 02-Nov-17 09:56:15

I think you and your female colleagues need to report it everytime it happens. Reports are also used to assess wider policy, and at the moment it probably looks to management as if men and women are at equal risk of sexual harassment, when this is not the case.

SpeckleDust Thu 02-Nov-17 09:56:20

Police generally have body cameras, don't they? Or is it just the ones that are involved in TV shows hmm

I think if all solo paramedics could be given body-cams to record attendance to incidents there would be proof of inappropriate behaviour and also prevent patients making false allegations.

The costs involved might be an issue but seems a reasonable request, particularly if you are responding alone.

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