Trigger Warning: Sexual trauma. If you’ve ever experienced sexual trauma please take caution, graphic details below.
I often hold my breath when I’m uncomfortable.
I try my hardest to stuff down the uncomfortable feelings into the lowest possible pit in my stomach so that I don’t show any fear.
This was one of those moments.
I laid on my back, staring at the ceiling, while gnashing my teeth, holding my breath as he stood next to me and slid his two fingers into my vagina. I heard him say “oh you’re deeper than I expected whoever you end up with will be very happy” and chuckle to himself.
It felt like hours as he searched around inside me. Tears started to well up in my eyes and I bit even harder down on my teeth trying to keep from sobbing out loud.
I don’t feel good.
Where is my mom? I want my mom.
This is okay. This is normal.
I turned my head to the left and stared at the manila paint on the wall, when the fuck is this going to be over.
He slid his fingers out and told me that he’s almost done.
Before I could catch myself I felt the same two fingers suddenly get pushed inside my ass. I cried out and couldn’t hold my breath any longer. I started jerking my legs around, grabbed the wall next to me and attempted to pull my body away.
He took his free hand and rubbed my thigh.
“It’s okay. Just relax. I’m almost done” he said.
I squeezed my eyes closed and focused on my breathing.
He searched around again.
This is okay. This is normal.
Why is no one else in this room with me?
Moments passed and whatever he was searching for was over. He slid his fingers out.
“See all done, that was okay wasn’t it?”
I was 14. A virgin. And he was my family doctor.
Fast forward 20 years later.
I’m laying on an examination bed waiting for a doctor I’ve never met before.
Chronic griping pains in my abdomen have led me here by way of referral – apparently he’s one of the best gynecologists in the city.
He walks in and I gulp. You look exactly like my old family doctor.
He introduces himself and I give him a grim smile, you know the one that people like to give you at the grocery store when they place the divider in between your groceries and theirs? That one – the pursed lips, clenched teeth, smile.
He asks what brought me here and I tell him.
He tells me that he intends to take a few swabs and that he’d like to check for fibroids.
I hear the word “check” and immediately I begin to feel the fear swell up inside my chest.
When I was 14, my doctor said he needed to “check” for cysts.
Is he planning to search me?
I’ve avoided male doctors probing my intimate parts for over a decade now, and quite frankly that’s how I would like to keep it.
I don’t say a word.
He leaves the room and I debate getting up and leaving.
My intuition says I should leave…or is this my trauma?
Before I can discern, he comes back in the room.
I sit up on the examination bed and hesitantly say “Hey doctor…you should know I’m uncomfortable…”
His eyebrows raise and his eyes get wide behind his glasses as he chuckles lightly and says, “This is extremely uncomfortable, no one enjoys this, I’ll be quick.”
I lay back down on the bed unsure if I’m comfortable yet or not.
He’s got his latex gloves on and positions himself on his stool between my legs.
My legs are clamped shut and he says to me that he will need me to relax as he takes his swabs.
I lay on the bed and stare at the ceiling and say to myself, “Natasha it’s okay to trust this doctor.”
I sigh out loud, close my eyes and focus my attention away from the objects entering inside me, and start the most mundane small talk I can muster.
“How long have you been working here doctor?”
He responds with “All done. See that was quick and easy.”
I let out another sigh.
It was painless.
No tears, no fight, no fear.
I think that it’s important that I let you know all of the steps and thoughts that cross my mind now when interacting with new doctors:
1. I make sure that they are always a good referral from a friend or previously trusted doctor
2. I let the new doctor know from the beginning that I’ve had an interaction with a previous doctor that was once inappropriate with me and therefore I’m uncomfortable as fuck
3. I ask them if another nurse or doctor can be present in the room whenever they have to do any procedures or examinations that I’m feeling uncomfortable with – some doctors make this mandatory in their practice, a lot of older doctors don’t and you need to request it
4. I repeat a lot of mantras quietly to remind myself that I am safe: “He will not harm me,” “This procedure is necessary for your self care,” and “I am safe, secure and in good hands” etc
5. I spend a moment after leaving the doctor’s office to ask myself how I felt about the experience. Sometimes I write out my thoughts or just mentally unpack what things went well, how clearly I communicated and whether or not I need anything changed moving forward – and by changed, this could go as far as requesting a new doctor if I simply don’t feel comfortable, or voicing myself more during our next interaction
Please note that if you are ever in a situation like my own, please don’t hesitate to speak out about it. Contact your Physicians/Surgeons board, call and report it to the police, and/or speak to a friend or family member to discern if his or her actions were appropriate.