Was this sexual abuse? I was 19 & it was a hospital consultant

(19 Posts)
Teahouse Sun 28-Oct-12 09:40:27

This story goes back 35 years and only a very few people know, but it is haunting me.

I was 19 and from a very traditional family. I feel pregnant but the foetus died and I didn't miscarry. It started to rot inside me so I had to go to the hospital. I had no support from my then boyfriend (later husband) and my mum told me that if my dad found out I was having sex before I was married he would throw me out of home. My employers were less than helpful too; this was 1985 and gender equality was talked about but not practised at my level of society.

To give some background to me, I was very naive at this age, had been to an all girls school and had only had 1 BF (this guy) who I started dating at 18 (yes I married my first BF). I had started work straight from school at 16 and had few aspirations as I was no high flier academically, and came from a background where girls got married and had a family rather than a career. Although not overtly Christian, Victorian Christian morals were the order of my parents home.

Anyway, much of the consultation at the hospital I have blotted out, but I do remember that there was only me and him in the room, and that although I knew I would need an 'internal', I didn't know what this entailed. I told him The consultant I hadn't aborted the dead rotting foetus and then remember being told to lie on the bed facing the wall with my legs bent and tucked against my chest. I must have had no underwear on but my legs were not apart like with a smear. He then pushed his hand inside me, and when I cried I was told not something like not to be a silly little girl.

Everything else is a blur, but about 5 years ago I told the story to a counsellor and was told it was sexual abuse as it was effectively a form of fisting and this was not the way internals were done...on ones back not side, with legs apart to open the cervix, not pressed together with my knees under my chin.

In the wake of the Savile allegations I keep hearing about sexual abuse by institutions. I have no idea who the consultant was but wonder if it would be on my hospital records and if so whether I should take this further; after all who else may he have done this to? But would anyone take me seriously after so long and was it really sexual abuse; I was 19 and was pregnant outside marriage so as my mother implied at the time, it was my punishment.

I could talk to counsellors at my current employers but could do with some advise. Has this happened to anyone else?

I'm so sorry that you're having to relive this. TBH I have no advice for you, I just wanted you to know that you're not alone and someone is listening

I do think that the name of the cons would be on your medical notes. You can request to see your notes at any point, but therer may be a charge (I think it can't be more than £10) Don't tell them what you want them for though as it has been known for notes to "go missing"

I hope you see this through to a satisfactory conclusion and can move on from it. It must have been very distressing for you to have that happen at such a vulnerable time

Once when I had an internal the dr couldn't find my cervix confused and made me get into the position you described. But he didn't put his whole hand up. On another occasion when I was being fitted for a cap I believe I was assaulted. I do think it's worth following this up if you can bear it. You never know, he may have had other complaints against him.

Teahouse Sun 28-Oct-12 18:43:44

Tall - could I be that it was normal practice? Could it be that i was just uninformed and thus this is not worth pursuing? Maybe m counsellor go it wrong? Sorry to hear you too think you MA have been abused.

PrincessSymbian Sun 28-Oct-12 19:03:59

Having had a quick google. I cannot find anything that recommends the position you describe for doing internal exams, unless it is rectum related and even then it is only one leg pulled up.
I have also found several things saying that male doctors should have a chaperone when doing internals but that was the nineteen eighties so things have probably changed.
Did he explain what he was doing and why? I am assuming no.
One of the articles I have just read does state that rough examination etc is considered abusive but again this was the eighties, so yes I think he did assault you but how easy it would be to pursue action against him, I don't know.

I really don't know Teahouse sad

fwiw, no other dr has had any problem finding my cervix, in fact one said 'That just disproves the hypothesis that tall ladies have a long vagina. Yours is is very short, my dear'

It was the 70's.

It's the sticking the whole hand up that I don't get. Poor you.

lechatnoir Sun 11-Nov-12 17:18:58

Sorry this is troubling you sad

FWIW, any internals during late pregnancy/labour have been similar & in fact one was whilst on my side albeit during labour so may have been more down to pain relief than need.

So for me, the physical description you gave didn't sound odd although that's not to say he didn't act inappropriately. Hope you get the answers you need.

Valdeeves Sat 29-Dec-12 10:14:18

I would do two things:
Contact PALS at the hospital where it happened.
Try and find out where he's practicing now and contact their PALS.
(PALS is the patient liaison service.)
To me this sounds wrong - the way he spoke to you alone would get him disciplined these days.
Poor you, what a horrible thing to have gone through - my thoughts are with you.

ShotgunNotDoingThePans Sat 29-Dec-12 10:23:11

I've been examined in that position once. Tbh, I was surprised to be examined at all (was the follow up appt after an erpc - there was a chaperone), and I was uneasy as to what could be ascertained from it, it was so brief.

Don't think I've ever mentioned it to anyone, although I'm still unsure about it now - but what you went through sounds dreadful and probably worth following up, if you can face it.

Thewhingingdefective Wed 09-Jan-13 15:40:07

If it felt like abuse to you, it was abuse. It has clearly been hauntin you for a long time.

What do you think you want to do next, if anything? What do you think would help you?

AnyFucker Wed 09-Jan-13 15:47:28

I am very sorry, but it is unlikely your medical records are still in existence. Look at the Dept of Health info www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/documents/digitalasset/dh_093027.pdf that details how long they are retained for

Apileofballyhoo Sun 10-Feb-13 11:28:29

My DH accessed 35 year old medical records fairly recently, it did cost 10 pounds and the NHS were a bit suspicious as to why he wanted them - we needed them for our GP in a different country - and we got them in the end.

edam Sun 10-Feb-13 11:33:34

You will have medical records at your GPs - how much information has been kept by the hospital where you were treated will is another issue, but your GP records should have some details.

I'm sorry you are so distressed by this. I have no idea whether this procedure was OK or not in the 1980s, btw.

At what hospital did this happen? I seem to recall having a similar experience with a hospital intern. It didn't seem right at the time but I thought not to question it and let the 'professional' do his job.

Myinboxisfull Thu 09-May-13 13:27:45

What you've described sounds like the 'Sim's position' and it is sometimes used for vaginal examinations.
I'm not sure why you think the doctor put his hand inside you, usually they would use a speculum or 2 fingers to examine you. I don't think that you would have been able to see what exactly he was doing from behind you iyswim. I think that it was unwise of your counsellor to describe this as 'fisting' if they are unfamiliar with routine gynae examinations. I'm very sorry to hear that you felt violated by the experience. Not sure where you should go from there really.

Fwiw, I've been examined in this position and found it very uncomfortable to say the least.

Noideaaboutanything Fri 31-May-13 16:52:20

I do feel for you but I think it would be difficult to perform a fisting on somebody who was nervous and you would have been, you would need to be completely relaxed for this procedure. Maybe it just felt like that if you were a little tight at the time, but as someone said earlier if you felt violated, you were, but whether it was actually sexual abuse, not sure, he just sound like a typical consultant of the early 80's you were pregnant and unmaried and he thought he could treat you how he liked without any consultation or reassurance.
I would say , as an abused child that if it haunts you get some help, however small other people think the issue is.xx

Casserole Fri 31-May-13 17:13:10

Hello, I am so sorry this is haunting you so.

It sounds similar to the Sims position, as someone else said, and that IS a genuine method for vaginal or rectal examinations.

Also, and I ask this gently, are you very sure that he put his whole hand inside you? I don't want you to feel I am disbelieving you, but equally from your account of facing the wall I am not sure how you would know this? In labour it is standard for midwives to insert two fingers inside you and then open them once inside I believe; most of the times I have had this done in labour it hasn't hurt but one doctor was rougher and although she only had two fingers inside it felt like 10!

I also agree with the person who said no way should a counsellor be using terms like fisting in relation to this, I think that is really unhelpful to you in trying to piece all this together; especially when the information is inaccurate as the side lying position does exist.

In short, I would say from the information you've given that it doesn't sound to me like you were sexually assaulted. It DOES sound like you were treated poorly though, at a time in your life when you were already very vulnerable. At the very least he should have taken time to explain what he was doing to you. 1980s or not it takes no time at all to treat other humans with dignity and respect and that obviously wasn't done in your case or you wouldn't be feeling so confused all these years later.

I hope you can find some way of coming to terms with it all.

DoJo Sat 06-Jul-13 10:11:09

I have to say that it sounds very irresponsible of your counsellor to
1) make a judgement without knowing exactly what happened
2) draw any comparisons with a sexual act
3) exacerbate your discomfort over this matter

It sounds to me as though you could benefit from some reassurance and as such it might be worth seeing if you can speak to a qualified medical professional about what happened and get some peace. Best of luck - I hope you can find some satisfactory answers.

honey86 Tue 16-Jul-13 10:41:40

can i just remind ppl that putting a whole hand in a vagina is what consultants do to this day when a mother has a retained placenta, only nowadays it is performed in theatre with an epidural (my sis had this done).

the medical world back then wasnt as developed back then as it is now, pain relief might not have been as wide-ranged as it is now. laws have also changed significantly. i wonder if he was attempting an evacuation?

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