The Silent Retraumatisation of Sexual Abuse Victims We Don’t Talk About Enough


“There is nothing untoward in his examination yet I am not in control and this touch is not wanted and it’s too much and I am unclothed and vulnerable and overwhelmed with triggers and the only escape I have in that moment is disassociation.
The switch flips; in less than one second I am mentally and emotionally no longer present, retraumatised by a simple and routine medical procedure deemed necessary to potentially save my life.
It takes me weeks to recover and find my way back to myself again.
Two years later, a reminder letter comes in the mail.
I throw it in the bin.”

I don’t often publish my articles on my blog, but I want to share this one with you today.

Having a Pap smear is an uncomfortable moment for most women. For survivors of childhood sexual abuse, it’s nothing less than traumatic.

There is not enough help or support for those in this situation, with three out of four women denying themselves life-saving care because the fear of being retraumatised is greater than the fear of cervical cancer.

There needs to be more discussion, more awareness, more understanding, and more care for both victims of sexual abuse and violence and the people who care for them.

This article was incredibly difficult to write, but needs to be read.

Full article over at 10 daily today, link below x

Why A Routine Trip To The GP Leaves Me Mentally And Emotionally Shaken


6 thoughts on “The Silent Retraumatisation of Sexual Abuse Victims We Don’t Talk About Enough

  1. Thank you for sharing this experience. I too was a victim of childhood abuse and I felt the same way with a routine examination by a male urologist. I specifically requested a female one, and was informed that there were no female urologists practicing but I could have a female nurse in the room…. so an audience to a violation by a male- great.

    I did not want it, yet felt pressured by all the medical professionals’ assumptions that I should just go through it and that it was ‘imperative’ and ‘necessary’ that I have this examination ‘asap’. Turned out physically nothing was wrong, and I was left wondering why the f*** did I put myself through that trauma, and drag up all those old feelings to be told ‘everything is fine’?? For me, everything was NOT fine.

    Their ‘routine’ traumatised me further and set me back with my healing process. The male urologist happened to look similar to my abuser and I don’t believe I’m just projecting when I say he seemed creepy af e.g. he tried to make too much eye contact with me whilst physically examining. I was barely an adult and did not know I had a right to refuse; I just accepted, disassociated and drifted away from myself. While the nurse looked on and my mum drove me home saying ‘well done’.

    1. This is so horrific and heartbreaking, yet all too common. It was a similar experience for me with my first pregnancy, I was only 21 and too young and unsure to say no when my male doctor asked if other male students could come and watch him examine me. So traumatic. It was a hard one to write but I’ve felt an important one to have a conversation that has made other women know they aren’t the only ones x

      1. Kathy I’m so sorry to hear about your first pregnancy experience- it seems so many women have a huge bank of horrific memories to draw from when it comes to this issue. The fact that this is just one of your many experiences, and you are one of many women… it makes me shudder. Also, the fact that we live in supposedly progressive, first-world countries means our suffering and trauma isn’t even the worst of what women are experiencing today- I cannot even fathom that and I have no good way of dealing with it.

        But! Your sharing gives me hope. Your voice is not alone; you are among a chorus of women who sing their truth louder each day and I’m standing with you, shouting at the top of my lungs! I’m so very grateful for your truth because it has helped me to realise mine and, no doubt, has helped countless others. I agree that opening up this conversation is necessary, if we are to save women and girls in the future and heal ourselves today.

        You’re doing important, life-changing work that reaches women all over the world- there aren’t words to express thanks for an act of kindness like that. You’re an inspiration.

    1. Not an easy one to write, but so many women out there are dealing with this silently – I’m so thankful to see a conversation around it happening now 💗

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