The annual physical can be fraught with additional stress for women who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I can’t say that I know many women who rejoice at stripping down naked and sitting on the examination table, barely covered by a teeny, tiny paper sheet, waiting for the doctor to come in. And… yippee skippy…how about that pap smear or mammogram? Ya. Tons of fun. But still you go and do it because it is prudent and helps to maintain good health. As much as it sucks, try to imagine how much of a challenge it is for a woman who has been sexually abused as a child. (I am speaking from a woman’s perspective however male survivors experience similar issues)
There has been research done that has uncovered the emotional, psychological and physical consequences of CSA and the subsequent implications on health care of the individual. Sadly not many health care providers have been trained to address or consider these needs in routine settings. As a result survivors suffer again in silence or simply do not go to appointments. Neither of these choices is ideal as survivors often have underlying health problems or predispositions that need to be monitored regularly.
SO…what to do? Our mission at Voice Found is to help heal, support and empower adult survivors and so this is something we will bite into. (Re)education for health care providers on issues related to this topic is on the agenda. We are working to identify or create curriculum, practice guidelines and programs. It will take time but we think it is worth it.
In the meantime if you are a survivor, you might find this resource useful: http://www.cwhn.ca/resources/csa/faq1.html