Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Marital sexual abuse and GP examination(15 Posts)
Hello, i wasn't sure where to post this so I hope this is the right place.
I'm worried about a GP appt I have coming up where I will need an internal examination done by a female GP. I have some pain in my womb area and at my initial appointment she said to see the nurse for bloods and a urine sample and to book a second appt with her as she will need to do an internal examination to gain further info on what's causing my pain.
Thing is, every time I think of this appt I burst into tears because a couple of years ago I split from my ex husband as he was controlling and sexually abusive. I'm safe now and have my life sorted out but this internal examination coming up has stirred up all the memories and feelings I had and I don't think I'm going to be able to put myself in such a vulnerable position. I saw a different female GP before I split with the ex as I summoned up the courage to write a letter outlining the abuse and made a last minute appt to ask for help and showed her the letter. Unfortunately she berated me for wasting her time and said it was his issue and she sent me away feeling destroyed and isolated. So, I don't have any confidence in telling this new GP what I'm so terrified of with this examination. My usual GP who is excellent and supportive is a male and I can't possibly have him do the examination. I just don't know what to do.
I thought I was making some sort of recovery but with that aspect of his abuse I haven't recovered at all. I get triggered so easily, even my kids accidentally touching me during play, cuddles, etc in my whole lower body area triggers me still as does the thoughts of the GP using certain words instructing me during the process.
I promised my body I wouldn't dissociate from it and abandon it ever again whilst painful and degrading things happened to it but I just don't know how I'm going to get through this.
Could you talk to the gp you trust, to get him to talk to the one who examines you?
First, that female gp was way out of line. It's not too late to complain about that, please consider it when you feel a bit stronger. Would it be possible for you to drop a letter into the surgery a few days before your appointment, saying exactly what you've said here? I'm so sorry you've been through all this. I can't compare it at all, but I had a very bad birth with my first dc, I was induced and one midwife was very vey rough with me. It's made me hugely fearful of internals. I know noone likes them, but for me they trigger huge panic, even 12 years and 2 subsequent children later. I find if I can get the words out to explain why I'm scared, they're as gentle and as quick as possible. I was in hospital last week having a very traumatic miscarriage and the worst part of the whole thing was when the doctor came to give me an internal. I'd had an awful time of it that day, but that was the thing that finally sent me over the edge. A nice GP will understand. Can you take someone you trust with you? I was so grateful to the nurse who held my hand through it and said it was ok that I was crying.
Sorry you've been through this OP - I'm experiencing awful flashbacks from similar things and it's ruining my life right now. I'm glad you're now safe but it's just so unfair that we're the ones who keep paying for the wrong actions of someone else in this way when we're trying to actually look after our own health.
This may sound ridiculous but as this is necessary do you not think maybe disassociating might actually be a good thing if it causes you less pain?
I agree, speaking to your trusted GP and asking him to arrange your examination with the other doctor, sounds like a good idea.
I'm so sorry you've been through this. I'm not surprised you are anxious.
Could you also call Rape Crisis, to talk through this with someone? It might help you.
Sloanepeterson- I'm so,sorry to hear of your recent loss, sending hugs xxx
I think two years is too late to complain though? If there was a third person there I'd feel even more vulnerable but it would have been a good idea.
I like the idea of seeing my GP and then getting him to discuss it with the female GP so she knows the score before hand is a very good idea. Thank you for that. I could dissociate through it but part of me still feels that by dissociating through the abuse I allowed it to happen to me and I've spent a long time now trying to be more grounded in my body and listening to it.
Thank you for your helpful replies.
The GP you handed the first letter to was horrifically unprofessional - I don't think you'd get a second one who behaved in the same way. I think it's a good idea to speak to your GP (or write another letter) asking him to convey to the female GP. Some dentists have methods of dealing with this kind of issue - they don't tip the chair, they do what they can to avoid covering your mouth, etc, all sorts of things that can be specific to your experiences, even down to how they tell you what they need you to do. I'm absolutely positive that GPs will have similar methods, and giving them a heads-up beforehand can only help, especially if you can be as specific as possible about things that trigger you. It's (unfortunately) not as uncommon as it should be, someone will have experience. Second vote for ringing Rape Crisis to see if they can tell you how to manage this, if you need more ideas.
Good luck, OP.
I wonder if you're ability to dissociate might be regarded as a positive skill? A skill that can be used for occasions like this when stress and memory become the opponent, alongside the obvious factor of another "invading" your body? The difference is intent, of course. But that's easier said than done.
You can ask a doc to stop at any point and they must do that. You can change the appt but you do need this problem diagnosing and sorted. That decision, to get healed, is a choice you make. It's a "survival" choice in itself.
You did not "allow" anything in the past. You found a way to get through a situation you could not escape at the time. There have been books/studies written about this.
There's a lot about you that is very, very strong and, understandably, being unwell in this area goes straight to the core of you and your experiences. But this time you really are in control. I say this in the wake of the excellent advice to talk first with the GP you are happy with. That first GP was shit, no two ways about that.
By the sound of it you really need some procedures to establish what is going on in there. You'll do it, I know you will. Ask the good GP first and make a plan with him about a way forward. Some say that the injuries we receive are echoed in future ailments in some bizarre way. You've been hurt to the core and now it's time to get healing sorted out, at many levels.
Appalling behavior from your first GP. An interesting thought for you?
This is your decision.
Your decision to go to your doctor.
Your decision to care for your body.
Your decision to get on the table.
Your decision to look after yourself.
Your decision to love yourself.
You have decided that you are worth it.
You are free.
Remind yourself of that if there is a trigger.
I'm a female Doc and see most of the ladies requiring intimate examinations. Unfortunately, it's very common to see ladies who have suffered awful abuse in the past. I would definitely let the GP know in advance - preferably by speaking to them over the phone but if that's too difficult, by letter. If I was seeing you I would book you into a double slot appointment and want to know exactly what the triggers were. On the day I would want to take my time, and if possible it would be great if you had a supportive friend/relative with you if possible who knows your back story. Plan an amazing treat for afterwards as a reward and remember you are doing this for you and your health. Nothing is more important than that.
Sending and wishing you good luck.
I think this is really hard. I am sorry the first female GP did not listen. It takes such courage to speak. Unfortunately many people still do not listen. That is their problem. You have done really well to get out the relationship, and get to a safe place. Use that knowledge, that you have done that much already, to draw strength.
I dissociate and sometimes it can be useful. But here, I think it is a case of uniting mind and body to heal, if that makes sense. How do you feel generally about your body and its abilities? Do you do any gym classes or swimming? Anything which uses your body safely as part of a group interaction? Physical sport helps you get back in touch with your body after trauma; I took lessons in a group for a sport needing lots of concentration. Then practiced when I could. It is hard when you are a single parent, but worth it.
That does not answer your question about lower body touching. I had similar issues when my smear was way over due. I cancelled several appointments but in the end, I explained. I also thought I had lost enough of my life.
You are making such important steps, it is hard. There are good suggestions in this thread, and it took courage to even post. The other thing to remember is that you are safe and speaking to your gp about your fears is a way of continuing to stay safe, emotionally and physically.
Our GP always has double slots for pelvic exams, so I agree asking for this is a good idea
Aww flowers for all others going thro this.
I go thro it too. It's horrible isn't it.
Way I cope tho? Don't think about what is before me.
If I could live my life without ever having to have another internal, I surely would do.
But I cannot.
Therefore as soon as the need arises, I get it over with.
And try not to think about it at all. It is needed, end of story.
And I like what the other poster said, about how this is your choice, to take care of your own body.
I would NOT want a double appointment, to explain the bloody triggers or for gentle hands. What!!! Get in there, get it over, get out.
I'm sending you hugs. You are being incredibly brave. See the male gp and see if a nice female nurse can do the examination. Also contact rape crisis to get help. I was abused as a child....I struggle with internals too.... try and have counselling. If you have a sister or someone you trust who could hold your hand....or just be there to hug you after...that may help a little. I feel for you. Xx
Join the discussion
Please login first.