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Tips For Sexual Abuse Victims

Many sexual abuse victims don't want opposite sex doctors or nurses to do intimate procedures on them or see certain parts of their body. Many sexual abuse victims are further traumatized when they have male gynecologists. The medical community definitely needs to work to be more sensitive to sexual abuse victims' needs. Remember that you have the right out of medical necessity to obtain medical care by a same-sex medical team. Don't let medical professionals intimidate you.

We have listed some tips on how you can get a same-sex medical team below.

1.) Be firm about your wishes for same sex medical team and modesty. Don't let anyone talk to you into using a male gynecologist.

2.) If you see that a certain hospital cannot accomodate your wishes for a same-sex medical care, you should check into going to another hospital not too far away.

3.) Always remember that you are in control and that you can refuse treatment. For example, you find out that your female gynecologist will have a male assistant with her as she does a pelvic exam on you, tell her no that you will not have the pelvic exam with him present at all. If she refuses to accommodate your request, leave and don't let her do the pelvic exam on you.

4.) Tell the medical providers that based on your life experience you find it degrading and humiliating to be subjected to opposite gender care and refuse treatment. Put it in writing. Get a letter from a licensed psychologist stating that exposing you against your will is an assault and that you are competent and that your healthcare decisions are supported by the therapist. Make sure you find a psychologist who is sensitive to your needs and agree that you should be able to get the same gender care. (Contributed By: Belinda Diamond)

5.) You have to be vocal and assertive when exercising your needs. Always speak up if you are uncomfortable with something. For example, if you are in an examining room that you don't feel has enough privacy and if they won't accommodate your wishes don't proceed with the exam or procedure.

6.) Remember that nobody can force you to do anything that you don't want to. Putting your needs in writing and having doctors acknowledge your needs not only gives you the best shot at getting what you need, but they also will respect you. You can use this sample letter to give to your docor and nurse. One lady who was sexually abused by medical providers gave it to the nurse in a sealed envelope and ask that she read it, along with the physician. She also did extensive research on two providers before going to them to make sure that they would be respectful of her wishes. She got excellent responses on both occasions. She was pleasantly surprised and noticed a significant difference when using this letter compared to not using it and trying to explain things verbally.

Special Thanks to Belinda Diamond, Writer/Researcher psycho social aspects of medical care that are detrimental to sound mental health; patient advocacy training for victims of sexual assault who has contributed to some of the information on this web page.

** Check out the testimony of a sexual abuse survivor Medical Patient Modesty helped to take steps to ensure she had an all-female staff for the birth of her baby. **


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