This is a quick post sharing 5 tips for survivors/victims of sexual violence getting mammograms.
Today I had my 2nd mammogram and I wasn't nervous because my first one was painless and actually empowering. But today as I was preparing I believe I heard God's still small voice telling me to pay attention because I would need to share some tips for surviving a mammogram later.
The body that has endured sexual and domestic violence has been terrorized to say the least. That body, your body, our bodies have experienced the weight of sexual and/or domestic violence and sometimes a result of the trauma is to become numb to touch. Sometimes we can become extra sensitive to touch. So routine docs appointments, healthy consensual sex or even friendly touch (high fives, hugs etc.) can be off limits, painful and/or insignificant.
Routine physicals, annual pap smears for women, mammograms can be really traumatic experiences for women who have survived sexual and domestic violence. Oftentimes the doc, nurse or technicians are not asking for consent to touch and the touch is sometimes rough and painful. These experiences can bring up memories nobody would want to remember or relive. Truth is medical personnel in general is just doing their job, but a trauma informed medical personnel can restore a sense of agency over self that can transform outlook in powerful ways!
Today's mammogram was not fun or empowering. It was uncomfortable and at some moments painful in general. I had NO flashbacks or triggers. The trauma of sexual violence from my past was NOT revisited today. HALLELUJAH! But some women do have flashbacks during or after routine physical exams. Some women are triggered and hence the reason for this post.
These tips are not exhaustive so please leave comments with your additions.
Expect to go into a dressing room similar to a retail store and take off your clothing and undergarments above your waist so you can wear one of their gowns for the mammogram.
Go in with the mindset that you are the patient who has rights, is allowed to ask questions, even if the tech, nurse or doc gets annoyed
Take a trusted friend or loved one or ask for a medical chaperone/advocate.
Exercise your bravery and let the tech, nurse or doc know that you need/prefer/want them to get consent before they touch you. That you are requesting that they explain what they will do before they reach in and do it.
Get comfortable. Wear comfortable clothing if possible. Play your favorite song or poem or sermon on your phone or tablet if it is permitted.
Remember The Lord is your Shepherd which means you are provided with everything you need to conquer your mammogram!