Sexual Assault

Sometimes my job sucks. It’s just miserable. I’m not talking about the crazy days we’re running our butts off. I’m not talking about the drug seekers. I’m not talking about the difficult sticks, grumpy triage waiting lines, or having to lift that 500lb patient. I’m talking about the really miserable days when you’re crying as you try to start an IV. I’m talking about those days you come home and just need a hug from a safe and trustworthy person. I’m talking about those days you’re exposed to the victims or perpetrators of some horrendous crimes. The crimes you see on Law and Order SVU and wonder why they’re allowed to talk about it on TV. Those patients come to me. Those patients are in my ER. Every day. 

In OKC, the hospitals rotate SANE (Sexual assault nurse examinations) monthly. This is our month. I’m not a SANE nurse. I thought at one point that I would like to be trained for it, but I’ve quickly stopped that silly idea. I am simply not strong enough. Or too empathetic. I’m not sure which. But I take my work home with me and you can’t take home SANE work. 

I can’t post the things I saw this week. I believe they’re all under investigation, and I couldn’t tell the story without breaking HIPPA laws. But it hurt. Human beings shouldn’t be treated this way. The flippancy of how it’s happened shouldn’t be a cultural norm. 

Another person actually said the phrase “boys will be boys” to me this week. I wanted to smack them. This is not a childish activity. These are criminal offenses which people have committed suicide over. They alter a person for the rest of their lives. They change who you are for ever. 

These are not cases where someone “was asking for it.” Do you know what asking for it means? It means one person asked if they could have sex with you and you responded with a yes. Other than that, no one is asking for it. Ever. Not how you dress, not how you act. Not asking for it. None of those situations were even involved in the cases I worked with this week, but the victim blaming was still there. It’s as if that’s the only excuse some people can come up with as to why something this horrendous would ever happen. 

A couple weeks ago, a parent brought in a daughter for a saddle injury. This is where, usually, a fall occurs and you bruise your pelvic bones in the saddle area. This girl had lost balance on a gym set and dropped herself on to some monkey bars. The story seemed legitimate and the child and parents were acting appropriately, so no one suspected abuse. We still had to do a pelvic exam to check for injuries. The doctor (male) and me (female) were in the room, along with the mother during the exam. We’re required, regardless of age, to have a witness during the exam. The doctor started by explaining what he was going to do and then proceeded to explain that this is not normal and that the only reason it’s ok is that he’s a doctor, I’m a nurse, and her mother was present. Then he showed her his and my badge, and added that the girl should ask to see the badges of anyone who asks to do this type of exam. I wanted to hug him. 

I don’t know if there’s a point to this post. But a lot has been boiling up lately that I need to get off my chest. I push and push my way through my shifts with a smile on my face, going through motions because that’s what I have to do. But I cry on my drive home.