RECLAIMING YOUR VOICE AFTER A MEDICAL CONSENT VIOLATION
Supporting you in acknowledging and communicating what happened to you
Have you experienced a moment at a medical provider’s office where you felt they weren’t listening? Or they flat-out ignored your wishes? Or there was unwanted touch during an appointment? Or maybe you’re not exactly sure what the hell just happened, but you know you’re left with an icky feeling?
If you’re reading these words, my guess is you have … and you might be looking for help so you can go to a medical provider again in the future without feeling existential dread of it happening again.
I’ve been there. More than once. But I never did anything to dispel the frustration or distress. I assumed since doctors are highly trained, my feelings must be wrong.
But then, in 2019, I had an experience I couldn’t ignore. Here’s what happened:
I visited a chiropractor I hadn’t seen before. I’d been on his table for a few minutes when he said, “I’m going to do some traction on your neck.”
With absolutely no further explanation or warning, he strapped my head down to the table using a contraption that also held my jaw closed. Even worse, because he was sitting behind me, I had no idea it was coming. One moment I was absolutely fine, the next I was secured to a table by a man I didn’t know in a small room with no means of escape and the impression that I couldn’t communicate.
The dissociation was so severe that it took me two days to finally land back in my body.
This time I didn’t let myself get caught up in believing that “he must know better than me.” This time, I took action.
I wrote a letter to the offending practitioner about the incident. Here are some excerpts:
You may wonder why I didn’t say anything at the moment. It is not unusual for people who have experienced some level of sexual abuse, assault, or other trauma (as I have) to remove ourselves mentally and emotionally from what feels like a dangerous situation. We put on a smile and happy voice in order to get through the moment. My entire focus narrowed to the knowledge that I was at a physical disadvantage; my background told me that if I did or said anything to upset the person who held the physical advantage, it could end VERY badly for me.
You will see in my email signature that I work in the field of sexuality and consent. Which is why I’m reaching out to you – not because I’m angry or even looking for an apology. But because if this type of response and dissociation happened for me, with a wealth of communication and negotiation skills at my disposal, imagine what happens to patients who have a similar response and have no way to process it or contextualize it.
I hope that in the future you will take an extra moment to communicate with each patient about what you are about to do. If it is something like strapping a person to a table, please get their verbal consent before proceeding.
For the first time I feel I’ve reclaimed my voice from a medical practitioner who didn’t seem to see the person inside the body and the symptoms.
If you are ready to reclaim YOUR voice from a practitioner
who violated your consent, I’m here to support you.
Here’s what to expect:
SESSION 1 (one hour)
- it’s not unusual for you to have some questions about what happened and whether you’re allowed to feel the way you do, and whether it actually needs to be addressed – we’ll spend time talking through that as necessary
- clarify exactly what needs to be addressed and what outcome you are seeking
SESSION 2 (one hour)
- work together to write a letter to the practitioner that helps you reclaim your voice in the face of an authority figure who left you feeling violated
- decide what next steps will help you feel complete with this experience (perhaps you need to send the letter; perhaps you only need to share it with a friend; perhaps the writing was enough and now you want to burn it)
I am also available for optional follow-up sessions to work on tactics and exercises to help you feel empowered to stand for your own boundaries in future medical appointments ($125 per session).
Reclaiming Your Voice After A Medical Consent Violation is for you if:
- You’ve had experiences of boundary violations in the past that linger in your mind because they went unaddressed, and you’re ready to try something new
- You want to experience standing for your boundaries in the face of a person who has violated them
- You question if what happened was “really that bad” and want support in clarifying what actually happened
- You want to reclaim your voice in response to someone not listening or dismissing your concerns
Reclaiming Your Voice After A Medical Consent Violation is not for you if:
- You are pursuing legal action against the medical provider – I am not a lawyer and this is not a legal service.
- The only outcome that will satisfy you is a heartfelt apology from the provider or punishment for the provider – I cannot guarantee what response, if any, you will receive and my focus is helping you reclaim your voice
- The violation you experienced has left you with the type of PTSD symptoms that are best handled by a trauma specialist
PLEASE NOTE: If you are a medical provider who wants to learn more about providing consent-based services, I highly recommend Dr. Evelin Dacker.