I’d like to summarize what resources and history I’ve gathered (or created) that might be helpful to other survivors.
I went from someone who had an 8 year gap in both pap tests and dental work to someone who has had a pap test and a dental cleaning within the past year. I also successfully asked a health clinician doing my pap test to examine me for scar tissue from the rapes (I have evidence of tearing that no-one had mentioned to me previously.)
Here are my posts about that journey
- Warrior Schedules PAP Test– Okay, so I think I found a safe (to me) place to get a gyne exam.
- The day before the pap_Yesterday I saw my therapist and we talked about the pap test appointment tomorrow. What’s different about this appointment is: 1) the medical professional will know I’m a survivor. 2) I’m planning to ask if I have scar tissue. 3) …
- Warrior Victorious in Pap Test – So the gyne visit went about as well as it could possibly go, and better than I could have envisioned. The nurse-practitioner I saw was very experienced and nice and drew the correct line between warm sympathy and matter of …
- In the wake of proof – Knowing I have scar tissue has changed my life I think. It’s like an incontrovertible validation of what I’ve been saying all along. No longer can I doubt or go into denial about the accuracy of my memory. I know …
- Icing my vulva – I’ve had pain and itching in my vulva for most of my life. I’ve worn out holes in the fronts of underwear from scratching. This, I’ve found through some recent reading, is actually pretty common with vaginal injuries like mine.
- Hidden Disabilities and Dentists A childhood sexual abuse survivor goes to the dentist, and triumphs over fluoride treatments. Continue reading →
- I get an appointment with a gyne surgical specialist and finally get a diagnosis for my sore, itchy vulva, that pretty much always feels like it has a sunburn. I get a biopsy in the first appointment (painful!) and a diagnosis of chronic inflamatory condition in the follow up appointment. After treating with a strong steroid cream for several weeks, I switch to a herbal anti-inflammatory (turmeric taken both internally and as a topical ointment) which has completely controlled the symptoms. Yay! Autoimmune and inflammatory conditions are apparently common in survivors.
Here are some great information resources I found:
Handbook on Sensitive Practice for Health Care Practitioners: Lessons from Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (applies to doctors, nurses, massage therapists, physiotherapists, dentists etc…) This report is a good read for both survivors and practitioners and is linked below. The one thing I would add is a one page disclosure and accommodation request form, so I created it. This document was written by university professors in the departments of social work, physical therapy, nursing and medicine of several major Canadian universities. (I love Canada a lot. ) So it’s got the ‘clout’ to be influential with your doctor or dentist.
Here are some links to some other good resources:
- Corroborated cases of recovered memories (Brown University)
- Effect of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Gynecologic Care as an Adult (Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine)
- Explanation of vulval injuries in children for physicians (Library of the National Medical Society)
- Health risk behaviors and medical sequelae of childhood sexual abuse (Mayo Clinic Proceedings)
- Prevalence of sexual assault history among women with common gynecologic symptoms. (American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology)
- Providing dental care to survivors of childhood sexual abuse (Journal of the American Dental Association)
- Survivors and Labour / Gyne Care (Ronnie Falcao, LM MS CHT CPM, Licensed Midwife)
And last but not least here’s a resource I created:
I’m really proud of this one. Wouldn’t you like to just hand your doctor a form with checkboxes for the accommodations you need to be able to tolerate a pap test? No working up to disclosing abuse just before getting into the stirrups, no worrying your voice will break or you’ll lose your nerve. All you have to do is hand over a piece of official looking paper. Look no more, here’s my survivor-designed and field-tested version, made using some of the recommendations from the sensitive practice guide linked above: SwordDanceWarrior’s Information Sheet for Gynecological Care Providers Providing Care to Childhood Sexual Assault Survivors I’ve used it. It works beautifully. I ended up in my own clothes rather than a gown, sitting up with a mirror so I could see what she was doing, with everything explained as she went along, and with my partner present. It was way less stressful than a regular pap test. If you use it, I’d love to know how it went.