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Why does everything have to be a battle?

A blog written by a former client and supporter of RSVP.

I’m sitting in the waiting room. Legs shaking, heart racing, a bead of sweat
leaves my face- Anxiety.

My name is called, and I walk into the room like a lamb to the slaughter, my
mind trying to distract itself from the triggers that start to occur. I hear
the muffled voice of the gynaecologist talking about the ‘check-up’ I’m about
to have, he starts to ask me questions, questions that I already know will be
asked, preparing for my cue for those words I have to say, I immediately look
away as the words escape my lips just so I don’t have to have that look, the
look of shock, embarrassment for asking me and then pity- in that order. Those
words come through hesitation.

“I was raped and sexually abused”

I also know what the reply will be, “I’m sorry I didn’t see this in
your notes straight away” This is not because I can see the future, this
is because no matter what appointment it may be this is what always

Why does everything have to be a
Why can’t I just walk in without all these feelings? Why is
something so traumatic and important hidden away in the lost pages of doctor’s
notes? Shouldn’t I be able to go to an appointment such as a baby scan for
example without the reminder of the monster who took my innocence away, when
you’re trying to move 3 steps forward just to be dragged 6 steps back?

One of the experiences I had, started the same way, but this time my mom’s
with me, she stands up with me almost in sync, the face of the doctor who’s
doing today’s examination looks confused, her face full of disbelief- she
hesitates as she shows us the way. I’m instantly annoyed at the judgement, she’s
wondering to herself why a 30 year old woman needs her mom to assist her
through this simple procedure. Nothing is mentioned, I walk into the room and
the nurse has the same look on her face. They both shared a glare

Like before, the questions are asked and answered, but she’s silent. Maybe
she didn’t hear me as I lay down ready? She asks me again, I reply again and
all of sudden everything changes, their body language changes, that look I was
welcomed with has gone.
“I didn’t see this on your notes” after scrolling for a few seconds
she realises. An apology enters the room, her admitting her judgment. She
offers another appointment with extra time so I can control the pace with whomever
I feel comfortable with to hold my hand- all the steps that should of been in
place in the first place. 

This isn’t the first and I know it won’t be the last. Thankfully not every
appointment is like this and I have had better experiences with a lot of help
and compassion. 

My idea is maybe a sign that survivors can have on their notes next to their
names such as possibly a purple circle sticker- purple represents survivor of
rape/sexual abuse.
My background in working in a hospital and on our computer system we see certain
signs about some patients background, for example we know immediately that if
a  patient has a risk of illness which is contagious to anyone else, there
is a circle that is black and yellow, or a patient that is a risk of falls,
there is a little stick man that’s falling. These are somethings that we see
straight away before we look into the patients notes. 

Another suggestion is something similar to the domestic abuse sign which is having
a closed fist with the thumb tucked in. For those who are unfamiliar with this
sign, this is used when you ask for help discreetly or show that you are in
distress without using your voice. Say maybe the same symbol but put your fist
to your heart when you don’t feel you’re in a safe place or not in the right
frame of mind to talk about it so automatically receptionists and doctors can
put things in place ready for you. These are just small steps but big
enough to change our experiences and may ease anxiety for many at appointments.

RSVP offers an ISVA service to help survivors through health and other triggering
appointments. Click here to find out more.

Posted 23 June 2023

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