Queensland Family and Fertility Support

Narelle Dickinson, Clinical and Health Psychologist

Feeling safe and secure during obstetric and gynaecological care

With such a huge number of people living with a history of rape or sexual assault, it is astonishing that many services remain somewhat insensitive to the additional needs of these patient’s obstetric or gynaecological care.  Unfortunately, for many people undertaking routine sexual health checks, attending fertility clinics, having their antennal reviews or delivering their babies, the interventions undertaken by their doctors and nurses may service to retrigger old trauma.  Most of these doctors and nurses may notice that the patient is very quiet or leaving “oddly” but will have no idea what is wrong with the patient.  Clinicians may be unaware that what they are doing is causing a re-traumatisation, as patients often find it so difficult to disclose their sexual assault histories – or may have not thought that their treating team needed to know about a rape that may have occurred decades previously.  But when we consider that up to 20% of women will have been sexually assaulted or raped in the past, the reality is that every doctor, every day treats many, many patients who are at risk of having their past traumas triggered by standard medical care.

I absolutely love this clinic established in the UK a couple of years ago which provides care to people who have disclosed their past assault, and explores clinical interventions which are more sensitive to the needs of these patients.  There is so much we can learn from this model to apply to every clinic and every patient.  Please note that some of the material in this video is quite distressing.  https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/rape-survivors-maternity-clinic-uk-nhs-a7073536.html  If you need support  If you need support or would like more information about this, please contact a health professional, or you may wish to check out http://www.dvrcv.org.au/help-advice/mothers/pregnancy-parenting

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