Being able to identify the warning signs and protect yourself against a sexual assault has become an increasingly important skill to learn. The recent sexual assaults in Friendship Heights and northwest D.C. has put the dangers of sexual assault back in the media and the forefront of our minds. Therefore, we do what we have to do to protect ourselves; we carry mace, we learn defensive moves, and we trust our instincts when we don’t trust the area around us.
But what happens when you let your guard down in a place you do trust, like a hospital? How do you prepare yourself against sexual advances from your own doctor?
Being able to identify your doctor’s sexual misconduct before it gets too far is your best defense. However, sometimes it may be difficult to fully process the improprieties, because of the trust and deference we give to health care providers.
Forms of Sexual Misconduct You Need to Know
There are several different types of sexual misconduct that a medical professional could use throughout an examination or procedure. If for any reason you feel uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to speak up or flat out leave the situation. Trust your instincts; sometimes seemingly harmless actions can lead to dire consequences.
- Compliments turning into flirting
- Inappropriate sexual comments (in general or specifically about you)
- Unnecessary questions about your sex life or sexual history
- Unnecessary or lingering touching
- Improper examinations (a sore throat shouldn’t require you getting undressed or being examined below the waist)
- Sexual harassment: this includes withholding treatments if you don’t provide sexual favors or prescribing additional “treatments” or drugs in exchange for sexual favors.
- Indecent exposure
- Rape: this also includes rape while under anesthesia or other incapacitating drugs
Don’t be afraid to speak up if you’ve been sexually harassed, assaulted, or even made to feel uncomfortable by your doctor. Notify the appropriate authorities—nurses, trusted hospital personnel, security, and local police. Justice for sexual misconduct by a trusted caregiver can include both criminal charges and a civil claim for medical malpractice.
Sexual abuse can (and often does) cause intense psychological trauma which makes it difficult for victims to tell anyone about their situation; this becomes even harder for those victims who were abused by a trusted medical professional. Let them know there are people who care and are eager to help them and their families get beyond this tragedy; share this article on Facebook and Twitter to help spread the word.