Friday, March 14, 2008

Critical Information!

I don't know if the laws meant to protect and help women in crisis are the same in all states. The information that I'm going to share is STILL the same today! I wish I could say that there have been changes...but there have not.

When I've had to go to the hospital/ER. etc...due to injuries sustained at the hand of an abusive husband...never was I asked, while being alone, if I was living in a "safe environment". I was, however, asked if I were living in a "safe environment" while my abuser was standing right next to me. How do you think I answered??? Of course, I said I was living in a "safe environment"...if I were to have answered truthfully, it would produce the same situation for which I was now seeking medical help.

I implore those of you that need help let it be known that,indeed, you are "not in a safe environment"...let the nurse/health care provider KNOW you are in a crisis situation! Ask the nurse/health care provider to assist you in the bathroom or whatever it takes to get that health care individual ALONE and without your husband/significant other able to hear what you must tell them to get the help you need. Words alone could never express the importance of this issue...it is CRITICAL!

Many times it wasn't even my abuser that accompanied me to the emergency facility, but it was a family member of his...many times a female. If I were to have told the truth about being in an unsafe situation...it would have most definitely be reported back to the abuser.

I should say that often in the restrooms of medical facilities there may be information that gives the telephone number, locally, to obtain help. If you get one of these numbers, HIDE IT!! Hide it where ever you need to...your shoe, bra, etc....again, do what YOU need to do in order to receive the help you deserve. No one deserves to be abused! NO ONE!

While I was living in the shelter for domestic violence...I needed to arrange for an outpatient surgery. The doctor, and the hospital knew that I was living in a "safe house". All concerned knew they had to contact me through the staff of the "safe house" or contact me directly through my cell phone. HOWEVER.....

I was supposed to get a call from the hospital to confirm my time of arrival, and which entrance to use. I waited and waited...but no call came. Finally, one of the staff said that I should contact the hospital. When I called them they let me know they had called my home and left the information with my husband! He was the abuser and the very reason I was now living in a shelter and needing the outpatient surgery. I was absolutely stunned!

To say I was both terrified and shocked is an understatement of vast proportions. This was a major breech of confidentiality. I let the staff know and then called my doctor's office, who in turn contacted the hospital. Security needed to be contacted ASAP.

The day of my outpatient surgery arrived. I was driven to the hospital by a staff member and immediatley ushered into a separate room. This further made me feel victimized. Next, I was taken into the room to be "prepped" before the procedure. So terrified that the abuser would show up, I had to be medicated three times before surgery could begin. Each footstep I heard created immediate panic, as I was sure he would find me. I felt totally vulnerable

I wish I could say that things have changed, but they have not. Like I mentioned in the beginning of this post...if you seek medical attention do whatever it takes to get a healthcare provider alone! Let someone know you need help...it's available, none of us that have ever found ourselves in this situation can do it by ourselves.

1 comment:

Ati Vanderhoven said...

Thank you for addressing this important issue. I know first hand from my experiences that not all providers understand that the true nature of abuse can not be ascertained with the significant other or a confederate nearby. Providers (ie. hospitals and clinics) must guarantee that confidentiality and privacy are essential elements of personnel training. As a student nurse I have been taught that the person accompanying someone to an emergent care facility may in fact have perpetrated a crime. The victim will most likely not ask for help and deny the role of the abuser out of fear. The client/patient should never be asked about his/her safety, or as to the possible abusive nature of the a relationship in the presence of the significant other. We are taught to accompany the patient to the bathroom if the significant other will not leave the room. Unfortunately training and common sense do not go hand in hand and it would appear that in an effort to expedite the triage process these issues are sometimes ignored. As a matter of safety this is a area that can not be excused.

With regard to your blog, I applaud you in joining a discussion that is only heard in whispers in our homes. We need to be louder and take this awareness to the community!