I can't even count the number of stories I know like this. Medical sexual assault is extremely common, and rarely exposed.

What we need to wrestle with is why, and what has to change legally:
This article inadvertently plays a part in one of the major reasons, when it notes that sexual contact between Dr and patient is an ethical violation. As if what is described here is consensual contact that just breaches some ethics rules.
Yes, the ethics rules are important and yes there is always a power dynamic, that's why the rule is there.

But when predatory abusive and criminal behavior is flagged as wrong because of an ethics violation, it severely mischaracterizes the abuse and downplays needed response.
I don't think that's what the author meant, but it actually is exactly what usually happens.

Several years ago the Atlantic published a major multi-part investigation into medical sexual abuse. They were way ahead of their time. Unfortunately, few people listened...
But here's what they found: sexual assault is usually categorized as an ethical violation, not a crime.

This means no one reports it to police and the only repercussions is a few hours of ethics education, as if the Dr. just didn't realize the rules.
Medical review boards are stacked with peers who have little to no understanding of sexual abuse or trauma, and almost always give the Dr. the benefit of the doubt and assign, naivety, confusion or outright malice to the woman bringing the complaint.
Systems of appeal for a decision rarely exist outside of that same review system, and no victim protections are in place.

Investigations, decisions and repercussions are all kept private. So there's no way for anyone to search to see if reports have been made by anyone else...
No accountability for the investigative process that was used, and no notice of any requirements put into place.

So even if you get a physician who is supposed to have a chaperone, here's the problem:
1. You are highly unlikely to know of this requirement and it's not likely to follow up on or be enforced.

2. Medical professionals don't usually believe reports against other professionals and don't report on them. The chaperone is not likely to be effective.
3. Babysitters don't stop predators. While a chaperone will prevent some overt conduct, MANY physicians abuse in the presence of other people. Larry isn't the only one. Abusers are skilled manipulators who need to be given no power, not just a chaperone. Predators will abuse.
And we foster a culture especially in medicine of unquestioned deference to what is told to us to be medically helpful or necessary. What a doctor says becomes the truth, period. And extreme deference is typically given to other doctors by doctors.
Extreme deference is typically given to doctors by other doctors, and bucking a system or individuals is treated with disdain and professional penalties.

Couple this with the patients being in desperate situations where they MUST be able to trust and receive care...
And it's a recipe for complete control, fear, and abuse, with swift repercussions for speaking up, like these women being unable to find new medical care.

This goes so much deeper than sexual abuse, but make no mistake, it directly feeds it.
I know women who were denied pain medication during significant stitching after birth by doctors who were mad they didn't accept pit and an epidural to make the Dr's. life easier.
I have friends who are nurses who could tell me which physician was known to cut unneeded episiotomies in retaliation for women who "labored too loudly".

I have friends who were experimented on for hours by medical students without their permission or knowledge.
Once I refused a forced catheterization for my 3 yr old son during a hospital stay, after confirming with the lead physician that there was zero reason for it. The other doc just wanted him to pee NOW and he was sleeping after a spinal tap and profuse vomiting. But...
Even though I confirmed zero medical necessity with the lead physician, I got written up in my son's medical records as refusing medical care for him. That can have massive repercussions with CPS, I've seen it happen. And it's now part of our permanent medical history.
I've taken in medical studies directly from government websites to have to prove to Dr's when I'm advocating for someone, that they aren't being honest about the risks of certain medications. Twice after producing info Dr's actually admitted lying right to me.
I have had to physically stand in between medical professionals who categorized a suicidal rape victim as uncooperative, when in fact she was CLEARLY in a flashback, to keep them for pinning her, stripping, and forcibly sedating. She was in a flashback.
They began to call security to physically remove me, but stopped when I told them I was an attorney.

It should never have happened.
I've has hospital attorneys lie to me about their policies and even lie to me about my own physician's recommendations for my care, which I was able to verify with my doctor later. But I was still denied accommodations for my 3rd birth which my PT and OB noted I needed.
I could go on for hours. The fact that over half of medical studies students report doing vaginal exams on unconscious women without their consent after they were sedated for surgery... the almost zero training in trauma and abuse...
The massive uphill battle I constantly face to get adequate pain control for infants and minorities, not because it's too risky to use the medication, but because it's easier not to.
Did you know that routine surgeries like lip and tongue ties are always done with little or no pain medication for infants? Even though adults get full nerve blocks because the procedure is so painful? Yet infants have HUNDREDS more pain receptors? Why?
Because only infants can be pinned down, mouth pried open, and surgery performed and have no recourse.

The science on infant pain being much higher than adult pain is clear. But it's easy to do to infants. So Dr's do, and tell parents it's no big deal because they heal fast.
We have a long, long way to go changing the culture of medicine, to get to stopping all forms of abuse

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Rachael Denhollander

Rachael Denhollander Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @R_Denhollander

29 Sep
Dear EC member who answered the asked question "how much is a little girl worth?" By saying "worth having insurance proceeds to pay her", please hear my heart -

If you are going to speak those words, first ask those little girls and boys what they care about the most:
Ask them if they value money, or the truth, more.

Ask them which one they would rather have.

They will tell you they want the truth. They will tell you the incredible cost they have already paid fighting for it.
Ask the little girls and boys which they would rather accomplish: getting insurance money, or getting to the root problems and fixing them so another child doesn't live through their hell.

They will pick saving a child every single time. They've dedicated their lives to it.
Read 11 tweets
20 Sep
The importance of waiving privilege is a question I get all the time from institutions in crisis - it's an issue in every case I work on.

Here's the bottom-line with waiver - risks and benefits:
The benefit of waiving is huge - because attorneys are usually involved in crafting the policies both for prevention and response, you simply cannot accurately diagnose problems without waiving privilege. You won't have access to all the information.
Not being able to accurately diagnose the problem increases your liability over the long-run because you will keep making mistakes, causing damage, and having responsibility for it. If you want to be a good fiduciary, stop thinking myopically.
Read 13 tweets
20 Sep
This letter below is patently and blatantly false in it's legal statements, and any attorney who is making these claims, cannot be doing so unintentionally.

Also note the realities being disclosed here:
Attorneys were intentionally brought into every conversation about abuse and abuse reform. The same attorneys survivors have said for decades, were at the root of every coverup and mishandling.

This is widely known. That's not an accident.
If one truly desires the best counsel on abuse prevention and response, you bring in experts who specialize in the law and abuse policy. You do not bring in the very attorneys at the root of the issues, literally for decades - The very attorneys you were begged not to bring in.
Read 8 tweets
15 Sep
I'm just going to be very blunt - this is horrible for those of us on the frontlines who paid the price over and over. Read this.

What if we hadn't had Dt. Munford and @AngiePovilaitis .

These women are absolute heroes. Read what they had to do for us.
And so are the 9 women and girls who allowed their cases to be charged and went through the hell of testifying. Remember them. Because of these women and girls and the only detective and prosecutor who fought for us, we got where we are today.
Remember the over 100 survivors who called the MSU PD to file reports, and the dozen or so who showed up over and over to MSU Board meetings and press interviews for two years.

Remember there are nine of us still acting as court appointed fiduciaries in the bankruptcy process.
Read 7 tweets
15 Sep
July 2015 (FBI report) to Sept 2016 (my report): 15 months.

Over 100 girls and women abused.

Sept 2016 (my report) to Jan 2018 (Larry's sentencing): 16 months.

Put it side by side.
In the time it took the FBI to do nothing except wine and dine with Steve Penny and procure help with a job offer, MSU detectives Andrea Munford and Assistant AG @AngiePovilaitis managed to do the following:
Interview Larry within 24 hours of my coming forward and for the first time find the discrepancies in his story.

Start and follow up an incredibly in-depth Title IX process that immediately removed him from the exam room - something the FBI didn't manage in 15 months...
Read 9 tweets
15 Sep
Yes, Sen. Booker.

Let's start talking about the legislative change that the House and Senate are capable of, that would have a direct impact on abuse and abusive systems:
Dramatically rethink and reshape sovereign/qualified immunity.

There are almost no mechanisms to hold law enforcement accountable for corrupt or criminal behavior, much less bring restitution to the victims...
Because SI/QI functions as an almost complete bar to accessing the criminal and civil justice systems. Absent substantial revisions to this doctrine there is no external impetus to do the right thing. This has to change.
Read 7 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!