American families rely on their healthcare providers to provide quality care for their family members. Going to the doctor’s office for a regular checkup should be a carefree and casual experience, and should not leave anyone feeling unsafe or manipulated. Unfortunately, sexual abuse has become an under recognized issue in the medical practice community. For you and your family members, it’s imperative to know the warning signs that your doctor is committing sexual abuse, or attempting to sexually abuse you. Here’s what to look out for:
- Prohibit any inappropriate physical contact: Your physician knows that any sexual conduct between a doctor and his or her patient is strictly prohibited. However, this line can easily be crossed if your physician is on a certain comfort level with you and he or she feels like they can safely cross that line. When you realize that your doctor is touching you more than required, recognize what’s happening and reprimand them.
- Question any bizarre exams or procedures: Visiting a new doctor’s office is a new experience in and of itself, so when your doctor starts performing strange activities and procedures, it can be hard to decipher what’s really going on. However, if your doctor asks to do a random physical exam that’s unrelated to your visit, or requires you to undress at inappropriate times during your appointment without medical justification, you have the right to sue for sexual misconduct.
- Know your privacy rights: A familiar form of sexual abuse from your doctor is if he or she makes inappropriate comments about or to you relating to your sexual history or any other personal information. Unless it’s directly relating to your visit, your doctor should respect your privacy and not ask anything sexual (nor should he or she share their sexual history with you).
Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Out
Speaking out to your physician and stopping him from being physically or vocally inappropriate is easier said than done. Sexual abuse cases in the medical community have been hidden and pushed under the rug; our society has blind respect for physicians and we don’t want to believe that such a respected people would exploit us.