Can Your OB-GYN Help if You’ve Been Sexually Assaulted?
Being sexually assaulted is one of the most traumatic experiences a person can go through. Feelings of disbelief, shock, shame, and anger become ever-present. The event can cause one to feel isolated as if no one could truly comprehend what happened. To add insult to injury, there are concerns about whether telling someone will result in blame and shame on you for the encounter; or having your story questioned. Or maybe the perpetrator has threatened you and you are scared.
Sexual assault in the United States is, unfortunately, a pervasive problem. One in five women experience sexual assault, and the vast majority are victims of someone they know: a significant other, a “friend”, a family member, or an acquaintance. This makes reporting the offender even harder, which is why rape is the most under-reported crime.
Why Rape Is The Most Under-Reported Crime
This problem is exacerbated by the many ramifications of such trauma:
- Genital injuries
- Risk of pregnancy
- Risk of sexually transmitted diseases
- Emotional trauma
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Strained relationships
- Substance abuse
Reporting Sexual Assault to Your OB-GYN
While sexual assault is an extremely sensitive and difficult subject to speak about, OB-GYNs have plenty of experience in assisting women who are dealing with the aftermath of rape. There is nothing you can tell your OB-GYN that will result in a raised eyebrow or judgment. In fact, your doctor can help you in several ways:
Discuss STD Testing
While you may want to leave the traumatic event in the past, it’s crucial to discuss sexually transmitted diseases and to be screened for them. Even if you have no symptoms, it is possible to have contracted an infection during a sexual assault, or attempted rape. If you do have an STD, leaving it undiagnosed or untreated could result in irreparable damage to your reproductive health and other essential organs.
An OB-GYN will conduct a pregnancy test. If positive, you can safely discuss your options without the fear of being judged. Whether you want to keep the baby, consider adoption, or discuss terminating the pregnancy, your doctor can provide all the necessary information and resources.
Referral to Counseling Services
Sexual assault counselors are specifically trained to assist victims of sexual violence. They can provide therapy and/or refer you to a support group. When you meet with your OB-GYN, he or she can refer you to local counseling professionals.
Assistance with Police Reporting
Most rape cases are unreported. This could be due to the fact that: the victim knows the perpetrator, the offender is a family member, the victim doesn’t think people will believe it happened, the victim wants to try to forget the event ever took place… Regardless, if you decide to come forward and talk to the police, an OB-GYN will help you contact them and guide you through the process.
Referrals to Victims’ Services
A victim of sexual assault may need assistance in several areas: securing shelter when leaving a domestic violence situation, seeking an order of protection from the courts, obtaining legal advice on how to leave an abusive relationship, or any type of assistance to help the victim rebuild their life. An OB-GYN will have a list of all available resources in your area and can put you in contact with trusted organizations.
OB-GYN Women’s Center Can Provide Screening and Treatment
We understand that sexual assault is a difficult subject to talk about. At OB-GYN Women’s Center, we aim to make our patients feel safe and comfortable. Getting answers to your questions is the first step in getting the help and the treatment you need.
Contact us to schedule an appointment.