How to Report Sexual Abuse

When somebody has been sexually violated at the hands of a helping professional, it is oftentimes hard to think straight, let alone be strong and confident enough to start taking the appropriate actions.  Not only is there the embarrassment and shame that one might feel, there is also the social stigma of coming forward to out the person responsible for the sexual abuse committed.

But here’s the thing, the sooner one can speak out, the better.  The statutes of limitations vary state to state, so time is of the essence.  Secondly, it is most likely that more than one person has been hurt, and the more that can speak out against the perpetrator, the more strength that each person has at having this person removed.

This is easier said than done. The first thing that one should do is get to a safe place and document the whole experience.  A close friend or family member should also be sought out to, not only to confide in, but to also help assist in what actions need to be taken when it seems too much for just one person alone.

Next, call the police and report the incident or incidents.  And if there was more than just touching, the police may ask for what is called a rape kit to properly document the evidence needed to go after the offender.  This may be a very emotionally difficult time, so be sure to have that person you trust the most with you the entire time.

After working with the police, it is imperative to contact the institution in which the person belongs to, whether it is a school, hospital or work place.  Each institution should have procedures and policies for such an event.

If the abuser was in the medical profession, the state medical board should also be alerted.  Needless to say, if there is a doctor or therapist that is sexually abusing patients, they do not have the right to practice medicine, period.

Beyond that, a call phone call for perusing legal action should be in order.  The damage done to a sexual abuse victim can be extensive and destroy one’s ability to feel safe in society, let along hold down a job.  In that case, a good lawyer can help obtain the resources needed to for quality medical and psychological treatment along with covering any wages lost.  Further more, a civil suit can aid in removing another bad helping professional from doing more harm.

Sexual Abuse in Coaching

You read in the news or online too often that a coach had a sexually abusive relationship with one of the team members.  These student athletes are just growing into their formative years, whether it be high school or college, and usually not fully equipped mentally to even know how to identify and deal with this when it happens.

Now, a coach’s relationship with his or her student athletes is a close one and depending on the sport, can take up a lot of time outside of home and classroom.  With that close and constant proximity, strong and important relationships can be formed, often lasting a lifetime.  And many of these relationships are thriving and wonderful friendships where even years later the coach is a steadfast anchor and role model.

The majority of coaches who get into the profession do so from a place where they want to make a difference in the lives of their student athletes by teaching them how to be a team player, work hard and keep healthy.  However, there is a minority of coaches who do use that opportunity to start exploring inappropriate sexual relationships with their student athletes.

This minority of coaches, which can be men or women, use these close bonds that are formed with their student athletes and exploit them.  Using that bond, coupled with their overall authority and size, they prey upon their young athletes in a variety of lurid manners.  From secret videotapes, inappropriate touching to forced sex, these coaches do more damage to these students psychologically than what any sports injury could do them physically.

So, if a case of sexual abuse of any kind arises, what are you to do?  The first would be to remove the student athlete from harm and alert the institution they are affiliated with.  The police are certainly to be alerted simultaneously so that they can begin an investigation and take the proper steps to remove the person from the position of authority. You may also want seek out professional psychiatric help as the trauma of abuse and the betrayal will have lasting emotional scars and problems.

Too often, parents and the student just want the matter to go away as it’s painful and embarrassing – as it is with any type of sexual abuse by someone in a position of authority. Because of that, parents and victims often avoid taking legal action as they don’t want to relive the abuse, face their abuser or deal with the pain.

However, a civil lawsuit allows the victim to go after the abuser and/or institution financially for the damages done.  Civil lawsuits can’t undo the past or erase the injuries, however, they can cover the costs associated with the professional help needed in order to have the student recover.

Civil suits also go a step further by holding the coach, as well as the institution that let it happen, be held accountable both morally and financially.  Doors are also opened so other victims feel comfortable to step forward and receive the justice they deserve as well.  With the justice system working in favor of the victims, you can remove one less abuser and make it easier for others to come forward and make the world of student sports a safer place.

How To Protect Yourself at the Doctor

The way it goes often these days with health care insurance, you don’t always get to choose the doctor you want to go to. Whether your HMO won’t allow you to see someone “out of network” or there are not a lot of specialists in your area, you sometimes have to compromise.

With that in mind, when visiting a doctor that may not be your first choice or are familiar with, you should keep your personal safety in mind. Now, it should go without saying that medical professionals should uphold strict boundaries when in the examination or operating room. Yet, while we may have to expose parts of ourselves that we do not share with the greater world, these situations should be kept strictly clinical without the slightest hint of suggestive language, body movements or outright inappropriate contact. However, it’s not uncommon to hear in the news about patients whose boundaries have been violated.

Doctors and other medical professionals that sexually abuse their patients are in the minority. But, abuse in the exam room can happen and is often so damaging that it ruins a person’s life, whether a man or woman.

Now, one might think that if a doctor brings a nurse in to the room for the examination, they might be safe. That is not necessarily the case. Bringing a nurse into the room doesn’t mean that a potential situation for abuse will be deflected because of a couple of reasons. One, the abuse might be subtle or just missed by the nurse who is there to assist. Also, if the abuse is more overt, you cannot count on the nurse to report it or even be on your side. That nurse may view her job as to protect the doctor and his/her reputation.

As a result, below is a list of key points that both men and women can do to protect themselves in the examination room.

  1. If you can, request a physician that you feel most comfortable interacting with. For instance, if you are a woman and you feel as if you can confide in a woman physician regarding very personal issues, do so. Same with men. If you cannot fully disclose something because you do not feel comfortable with whom you are speaking with, then there is no point to the visit.
  2. Do not get pressured into unnecessary examinations such as genital, breast and rectal exams if it is in no way related to the issue you went in for. If you go into the doctorsbecause you have a sore throat and they insist that it might be prudent to expand the examination to private areas, you are well within your right to refuse. These types of exams are typically unnecessary unless there is a very specific problem relating to those areas of the body.
  3. Don’t undress and put on a medical gown unless it is absolutely necessary. In a lot of situations, adorning a gown makes people feel exposed and unable to maintain a level of modesty that allows them to feel comfortable. With that in mind, for many routine visits you can keep your clothes on and the doctors can just ask you to roll up a sleeve to get blood pressure or lift up the back of the shirt a bit to listen to your breathing.
  4. If anything makes you feel uncomfortable during the exam, ask questions, speak up and have them stop.
  5. Take along a trusted person, preferably a spouse or significant other. This is especially crucial for more sensitive procedures, especially if you will have to be anesthetized or hospitalized.
  6. If a doctors insist on a catheter be inserted, refuse the procedure unless it is 100% necessary. For one, these are often unnecessary and if it is absolutely essential to your treatment, insist on having a member of the same gender insert the equipment.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but use this as a starting point to analyze your surroundings and judge your safety. Always remember to trust your gut instinct, and if you think you should leave, do so.

If you have found yourself to have been sexually abused or assaulted, report it immediately to the front desk or receptionist. Then, call the police, report the incident and get a copy of the police report.

You will also want to alert your state’s medical board for which you can find a link here. Afterword, you may also want to speak with a law firm to discuss your legal options, not only because of the suffering but if you require treatment, those expenses can be covered. You need to hold the doctor and the office or hospital in which they work morally and financially accountable.

When Consent is Irrelevant in Sexual Assault Cases

One question that comes up a lot in the realm of sexual abuse is this; If a situation is to be considered sexual abuse, does the sexual interaction have to be non-consensual?

In many sexual abuse and assault cases, the plaintiff will have to establish that the sexual encounter, whether just touching or more, was not done with their consent and that it was neither welcomed nor wanted.

However, in certain situations consent is irrelevant, and no matter what the victim or perpetrator say, any sexual interaction is considered abuse.  One of the more obvious situations is when an adult has sexual relations with a minor.  In those situations, if the person is under the age of 18, whether there was consent or not, it is considered sexual abuse, mainly because when people are that young, they are not equipped mentally to fully judge the situation or the ramifications that may occur after.

Another situation in which consent is irrelevant is when a doctor, therapist or psychiatrist engages in any sort of sexual activity with the patient.  And despite what might be portrayed in movies, where the patient and doctor fall in love and live happily ever after, this is actually be a dangerous situation for the patient.

Licensed medical professionals are tasked with guiding their patients along a path of healing.  When on this path, patients are exposing every vulnerable bit of themselves, both mentally and physically with an implicit trust that their practitioner is going to help them get better.  With that implicit trust, patients require a professional who is not only a compassionate champion for their health, but someone who respects basic boundaries so that their treatment can retain a crucial level of objective analysis.

More often than not, once a doctor or therapist crosses that line, them becoming emotionally and physically involved with a patient is not out of genuine love.  It comes from a desire to exploit this level of trust to act out some perverse desire or need.  This is a process that can happen on the first visit, or may take a considerable amount of time to develop.

In any case, if the patient even believes for a moment that they are giving consent to this exploitation, those feelings in the court of law are completely irrelevant.  What the doctor or therapist is doing goes against the very oaths taken to do no harm to their patients.  To be blunt, they are quite literally abusing their patients in order to achieve some sort of sexual desire and they should be stopped.

For one, the first thing for people to do in any situation is to get to a safe place and call a trusted friend or family member.  Then, together alert the authorities as well as the institution their abusers belong to.

Then, start to seek healing with a professional that you can trust.  The psychological damage to those abused can be subtle to severe, ranging from mild depression to PTSD.  These mental ailments need a trustworthy professional to help guide the way.

For some, the cost of that healing can be prohibitive, and those who have been abused should seek out legal civil action in order to gain the resources needed in order to properly heal.  Not to mention the fact that some people are unable to effectively work after such events, and they need something to cover any wages lost.

Civil suits also hold the abuser responsible for their depraved actions along with any institution that let it occur.  By standing up for your justice, others may be able to come forward to be able to get the justice and the care they need in order to heal in a safe and conducive environment.