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I was abused by my GP - wish I'd reported it

(203 Posts)
pinkbluepink Tue 30-Oct-12 15:52:50

The Jimmy Savile abuse cases have led me to re-think something that happened when I was a teenager.

I was 'abused' by my GP when I was 17 on a visit to the surgery to enquire about going on the pill. My GP asked me to undress and get on the couch so he could 'examine me' before he could recommend going on the pill. At the time I thought it odd, but then having not been in that situation before I obligingly removed my lower items of clothing and hopped onto the couch. The GP then proceeded to give me an 'internal' before returning to his desk and writing a prescription.

It was only much later when discussing going on the pill with friends that I realised what he had done to me was wrong, and even then I was too embarrassed to do anything about it.

In hindsight I wish I had reported him - how many other teenagers did he do this to?

The GP is question is probably dead now, but as a mother of teenage girls it makes me furious that someone in his position felt he was able to do this.

Not sure why I'm posting this now - just wanted to get it off my chest really. Thanks for reading.

CailinDana Tue 30-Oct-12 15:59:42

It's worth talking about things like this - to get them out of your own head and to connect with others who may have experienced something similar.

That GP was an utter shit and he should never have done that to you. Unfortunately, especially in times gone by, this sort of thing wasn't massively uncommon. It's the main reason why nowadays you usually have to have a chaperone for internals if they're being done by a man.

How do you feel about what happened these days?

PacificDogwood Tue 30-Oct-12 16:02:17

So sorry to hear this.

You can still report this if you want.

For your own peace of mind, why don't you get in touch with Rape Crisis who will be able to support you coming to terms with what happened, no matter how long ago it was.

pinkbluepink Tue 30-Oct-12 16:05:30

I think many of the victims of celebrity 'abuse' have only felt they could come forward now that others have also told of their experiences. I wonder if it will in fact lead to revelations about GPs too - in a way I hope it does.

A decade or so after I'd stopped going to that GP I interviewed a graduate for a job - by weird coincidence she turned out to be my GP's daughter. It made me go cold just to have his daughter sitting in front of me, unaware of what her father had done to me.

BetsyBlingtastic Tue 30-Oct-12 16:08:37

Sorry you've had this experience and are upset by it.

I'm a bit confused actually as a friend of mine went to her doc in the 1980s to go on the pill - not sure her exact age - between 16 and 18 - and she said she had an internal examination.

She said it was pretty uncomfortable as she was at that stage a virgin. I thought at the time it was strange - I couldn't understand why that was necessary. Perhaps someone can come along and explain if an internal is standard practise or not when prescribing the pill.

I hope you find someone sympathetic to talk this over with and come to some peace of mind.

pinkbluepink Tue 30-Oct-12 16:13:01

Gosh, maybe it WAS standard practice?! I can't imagine it could have been since when I discussed it with college friends at the time nobody else had experienced a similar situation. It will be very interesting to hear other people's views.

CailinDana Tue 30-Oct-12 16:16:30

I can't see any reason why it would be standard practice - nothing they could find in an internal would stop you from taking the pill.

Like I say, this sort of abuse wasn't uncommon. The fact that they are so so careful about chaperoning these days tells you that clearly enough.

stitchy Tue 30-Oct-12 16:39:39

My female GP gave me an internal examination before prescribing the pill for me as a teenager. From what I can remember my friends (at different GP's practices) didn't have one though.

EternalHope Tue 30-Oct-12 16:59:46

I had the same experience as a teen, back in the early eighties. Perhaps this was normal back then? (Mind you, I had other issues so that might have been why....). How long ago was this?

PacificDogwood Tue 30-Oct-12 17:00:22

I am a GP (female) had have never done internal exams prior to pill prescribing, unless the woman in question also had other symptoms ie troublesome periods (sometimes that is the reason why the pill is prescribed in the first place) or pelvic pain. In young girls who has 'simple' painful or irregular periods with nothing else in their history should be able to have the pill without vaginal exam.

I have no idea what common practice a while back - I qualified 20 years ago.

Chaperoning IS much more common now, although some people are horrified when it is suggested another person should be present when they are undergoing an intimate exam. I have so far not come across a single man who wanted somebody else present when I needed to examine his bits or tail end.

I think that fact remains that you feel uncomfortable about this episode now, and you reacted strongly when you came across his daughter in a perfectly 'innocent' context. I would seek some skilled counselling, even just to be able to process this in your own head and then put it away IYKWIM.

longtrainrunning Tue 30-Oct-12 17:26:15

Normally a committed lurker but I had to respond to this because exactly the same thing happened to me back in the 70's - when I was just 17.

The (male) GP asked me to get totally undressed, examined my breasts, gave me an internal and asked me to 'squeeze' onto his inserted finger. He then told me that my boyfriend was going to be a lucky man(!)

I thought it was a tad odd but thought no more about it and didn't realise just what he was about until years later.

I can't say that I feel particularly scarred by this - I just think what a filthy old bastard he was. However I am tough and a more vulnerable young woman could be deeply affected.

PseudoBadger Tue 30-Oct-12 17:30:18

I had an unpleasant experience with a doctor at my first smear test. I was late teens, not shy and did not request a lady doctor. The male gp gave me an 'internal' before doing the smear test. I remember feeling very unhappy about it and I will not see him any more even nearly 20 years later.

ToothbrushThief Tue 30-Oct-12 17:30:37

My GP examined my breasts thoroughly when I announced I was pregnant 21 years ago. It was a shock to be fondled for announcing pregnancy. I do think it was recommended practice then. Internals...possibly also recommended years ago.

pinkbluepink Tue 30-Oct-12 17:37:38

eternal it would have been around 1982.
pacific thank you for your concern re: counselling, it's not something that is upsetting me overly now and it's kind of you to suggest seeking help.
longtrain - in hindsight after reading your post I think he examined my breasts too. It was obviously more common than we think.
As I said in my original post, I haven't given it much thought over the years but the recent cases in the press regarding celebrities have given me reason to remember this situation.

ToothbrushThief Tue 30-Oct-12 18:05:11

I was trying to google 'internal examination prior to pill' because I do think it was considered routine practice back then ...and got various hits for internal workings of a tablet computer confused

Baskets45 Tue 30-Oct-12 20:34:10

Well, I had the pill prescribed in the 80s, and no vag exam (VE). And I trained as a family planning nurse in the early 90s and there was no routine VE when pill first given, and no talk of it being historically the case. But they did do routine VE to date pregnancies when i had my first baby in late 1980s - then that was changed when dating scans came in. ? mid 90s. Breast exams in early preg also seemed to vary depending on dr preference. I had a really intrusive gropy one, which I questioned the necessity of but still took off my top and bra, as you do, for my 3rd pg (1993!) - and none with any of the other pregnancies. I felt upset about that for a good time afterwards. It all did seem to depend on what different drs liked to do, and wasn't necessarily based on evidence or best practice, back then in the dark ages!

OP - you've had good suggestions frm others. Only you can know what support you need around this. I think the JS scandal has affected lots of people. I've been feeling upset too, due to past experiences (nothing to do with GPs or doctors though).

A point I would like to make (before I bog off) is that a GP is advised by GMC and so on to have a chaperone for their own protection, not just to support the patient, in certain cases like intimate examinations. I think this is termed something like 'when performing an intimate exam on a patient of the opposite sex'. This obviously isn't about whether an exam is deemed necessary or not, that's another issue entirely, but I wouldn't refuse to have chaperone if male GP, for example, wanted a chaperone there. though it's unlikely to happen these days as I rarely would go to a male GP for anything like that. And in fact am currently waiting weeks to see everyone's fave female GP about a lump on my inner thigh. But years ago there were far fewer females, doctors and nurses, in primary care, and going to a woman wasn't so easy. There was also an attitude that drs were gods, and people were generally much less aware of these issues.

Sorry this has happened to you, OP.

Offred Tue 30-Oct-12 20:58:37

it seems to be fairly common place in America (where money is made from unnecessary treatments) although no real medical evidence behind it.

OpheliaPayneAgain Tue 30-Oct-12 21:03:22

Back in the 80's I had a female GP who would internally examine and I changed GPs, again another woman who would insist on the whole bloody kaboodle of internal, breast and good old prodding of abdomen before issuing a prescription.

Offred Tue 30-Oct-12 21:05:18

It may well have been a thing like the sti testing of women having an abortion now. The assumption being women wanting the pill/abortions were having regular unprotected sex with multiple partners.

However, health care professionals of all kinds can cause you to feel (and be) violated when they don't adequately explain what they want to do an why and offer you a choice. In the 80s doctors were taught to practice medicine not to give patients choice. I'd urge you to make your mind up about whether you felt violated or not yourself, much like husbands who benefitted from the marital defence to rape, just because something is state sanctioned does not mean you need accept it as non-violent.

Offred Tue 30-Oct-12 21:11:37

Just like the jimmy savile thing just because behaviour is institutionalised and "society didnt recognise" child sex abuse or a patient's right to bodily autonomy doesn't mean those things should be ignored by the people who were harmed by them. You need to decide how you feel about it I think, independent of really whether it may have been an accepted practice back then.

midas Tue 30-Oct-12 21:12:05

When I was a teenager , my male GP asked to examine my breasts , I said I was uncomfortable with it so he didn't. He gave me the contraceptive prescription without examining me.

Baskets45 Tue 30-Oct-12 21:15:03

Good points in 2nd para, Offred - though I think that maybe was an early prevailing attitude, like in the 70s or 60s. In fact in 80s people were more aware, I suspect, about HIV and other STDs cos HIV was new and talked about, compared with now. Perhaps!!

Magpieinthehouse Tue 30-Oct-12 21:41:04

Hi - namechanged for something else and decided to stick with it for this post. I am a regular though.

OP, I am truly sorry for your experiences. The Jimmy Saville thing has made me dwell quite a lot on things that have happened to me in my life too. I am now in my 50s but my experiences as a child and as a young woman have led me to belive that sexual abuse is much much much more common than most people would like to imagine.

I'm not going to go though everything, but I would like to recount a similar experience when I was coming to the end of my degree course, in the early 1980s. I had applied for a teacher training course and for some reason, which is unfathomable to me now, I had to go for a medical examination in London. I just can't remember what it was called now, but I have a feeling it was where Ken Livingston ruled the roost at that time (Damn my memory -someone please set me straight). I was examined by two fairly elderly male doctors who made me strip to my briefs and lay on the couch, and then one examined my breasts. I felt completely violated. It didn't feel like a medical examination at all. What the hell was that about?

Something else - maybe related to the Jimmy Saville affair. I was involved with a very popular TV programme in the mid 1970s, when I was 17. It was a programme where most of the participants were adults. I recall being involved in a meeting with men who were involved with the production of the programme. I was warned to stay away from one of the main guys - someone who is still alive today and is still involved with broadcasting. The men told me that they had been to this man's house and had found "young girls" running naked around the house. I have no idea whether this was true, or what was meant by "young girls" but I heeded the warning and stayed away from him. I have been wondering whether to mention this to anyone involved with the current investigations, but, as DH says, it is all hearsay.

Sorry if I have hijacked your post, OP. I have ben so tempted to start my own posting on this and you pushed me into posting.

ParsingFancy Tue 30-Oct-12 21:47:26

Magpie what you've said is hearsay, but if you are able to name the production men who were eye-witnesses, and they can be traced, that could be useful to the police.

cleef15 Tue 30-Oct-12 21:47:43

I have always wondered about this too. When I first went for the pill mid eighties I was internally examined by a male GP at the family planning clinic. I can remember him saying relax like a jelly fish and me looking away crying as I was terrified and humiliated. I've often wondered if it was normal then or whether he abused his position....and me!

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