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#203457 - 02/04/08 07:05 AM UGGG! parents trigers
theatrekid Offline

Registered: 06/03/07
Posts: 702
Loc: oregon
So i was about to go to bed when i started talking with my mom, She said she wanted to make me a dentist appointment and a doctors appointment. I understand her wanting me to go to the dentist i do need to go but i freak out every time i have an appointment. Sitting in the chair not being able to move i feel like i have this huge weight on my chest i can't take it, same with hair cuts(but those are quick so i get my hair cut). i tense up my breathing increases i feel like i am suffocating it is unbearable. plus thi fear comes over me to the point that its almost overhwelming. so i stopped going because it was to so stressful.

Anyways when i first told my parents that i remembered the abuse. I told them that the dentist really makes me uncomfortable.

Tonight my mom says "i don't understand whats wrong with you. even when you were little you hated the dentist going to get your hair cut and the doctors."

I wanted to yell her. how can she not understand this? I have told her before why the dentist bothers me. the hurt and anger i feel when she dose things like this is beyond words. she means well but her complete and total lack to listen to me is horrible. I have tried talking to her its always about her and I am getting to the point were i just want to leave and be away from her.

Just me ranting, Christopher

#203471 - 02/04/08 10:45 AM Re: UGGG! parents trigers [Re: theatrekid]
MemoryVault Offline

Registered: 03/02/07
Posts: 693
Loc: NJ
Sorry, Christopher --

Sometimes I think having been abused (or having had anything awful happen) is like being a visitor from a very distant country. Now, we live among citizens of the-world-of-people-it-didn't-happen-to, and we have to do a lot of explaining and translating for them or they won't understand the things that seem obvious to us.

The problem with the dentist is obvious to you, like part of your language: dentist --> restraint --> flashbacks. And you may have told your mom, but it isn't part of her native language. In her world, being afraid of the dentist is childish and flashbacks are a foreign idea.

So, do you give up trying to translate? To get her to understand, not just the fact that you don't like going to the dentist, but the depth of the feeling behind it? Can her empathy make the leap across the "language barrier" and understand that her son is hurting?

See if you can walk her through what's happening in your world, patiently, like you're teaching a foreign language. I hope she gets it.


#203519 - 02/04/08 05:18 PM Re: UGGG! parents trigers [Re: MemoryVault]
alexey Offline
Moderator Emeritus
Registered: 08/16/05
Posts: 1674
Loc: Moscow, Russia

I also don't like much the dentists, but when I think about how much good they do my health, I always go to them. It is a power of will.

I hope you will find strength.


When you feel all alone and unhappy, turn to you Inner Child and talk to Him.
You will see He can comfort you like nothing else!

#203528 - 02/04/08 06:39 PM Re: UGGG! parents trigers [Re: alexey]
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5781
Loc: Lyons, CO USA
Maybe you could show her this from my upcoming book. The formatting is not coming across so where the headings are in another font or bold, it's not showing. Ditto for survivors' quotes. It has been submitted for publication so please don't copy and distribute. (You can show your mom.)

Chapter 20

Fear of Dentists and Doctors

Men are generally not good patients of doctors and dentists. It has been said by many wives and parents that it is next to impossible to get some men (and teenage boys) to these medical professionals.

Why? It may be because few men, besides exhibitionists and body builders, want other people to see them naked. Sometimes it is okay for his lover to see him naked, but for many survivors, no one can look at his body without him feeling some shame. The discomfort that a lot of men feel having a physical that includes removing one’s clothes and being poked and prodded, is often a disincentive for many, despite the understanding that prevention or early intervention is preferable to treating some illness or problem at an advanced stage.

Although their dentists or doctors have abused some survivors, most who are reluctant to get medical attention are likely to have been abused by someone else and the abuse may have involved oral or anal penetration. A physician who is examining the genitals or rectum of the patient may unwittingly be re-enacting some of the touch that the survivor experienced years ago. For many survivors, the thought of going through that experience again may mean putting off any examination or procedure that feels similar to the abuse.

The medical professional is, in some ways, taking on the role of the abuser. The professional is in a position of authority. It is his office, you are the patient, and you are expected to follow orders or directions. The doctor or dentist is pretty much in control of the appointment. If he is running late and you have to wait, there is little you can do except leave. You generally are expected to comply with the directions of the professional to take off your clothes or open your mouth, and you could be touched in ways that might cause you to recall previous situations of abuse that were beyond your control.

This recollection might be on the surface of your consciousness and remembered, possibly with the emotions that accompanied the abuse. Or it might be more unconscious, so that you have no connection between the abuse and the medical procedure you are going through. You might not know why you are feeling so scared or uncomfortable, but the feelings are real for you, even though you are likely in no danger today from the medical or dental procedure.

Men who experienced forced oral sex, for example, may have strong reactions to anything placed in their mouth. The dentist, in his position of authority, is probing around your mouth with a mirror and pick. He may pack your gums with cotton wads or insert a latex dental dam. Your saliva can build up and cause a choking sensation. You are fixed in the chair and can’t protest except for grunts and hand motions. The procedure may be painful, and there can be blood as well. Not a pleasant situation to be in.

The physical situation may be reminiscent of the abuse experience. You are lying on your back with someone hovering above you and you are pretty helpless. One survivor wrote:

One of my most horrific memories involved being held by my head, so any dental work is a huge trigger for me. I've been avoiding the dentist for years, even though I know it's a bad move on my part. I hate being controlled by those old fears, but I find it difficult to break free from them. Even the thought of going to the dentist is enough to send me into a near panic.

Another survivor described the dental experience as the same as flying: “I hate the dentist the same way I hate flying. I don't like feeling trapped.” Just as the airline passenger is somewhat trapped in his seat, the patient in the dentist’s chair is pretty much helpless to move about. This can be a strong trigger for some survivors. And, even for those without a history of being abused, the trip to the dentist’s office is not a pleasant experience.

Unless your dentist has abused you, the sensations – both physical and emotional – are likely reminiscent of the abuse you might have endured, although the medical or dental procedure is for your benefit, not the benefit of the abuser.

There are similarities as well with medical doctors. The difference between dental and medical procedures may be life and death. The dentist’s work is necessary for your teeth and gum’s health. Generally, a person who avoids going to the dentist has only his teeth to lose. The person who avoids the physician may actually lose his life if he does not follow recommended medical suggestions or agree to examinations and testing.

For many survivors, the prospect of a physical exam is very upsetting. The medical professional may want you to undress and may touch your genitals, buttocks or anus. If you have been abused, physical contact with these areas or even your body in general may feel very threatening. Although your brain tells you that this is a normal non-abusive procedure, your emotions may be screaming inside as if you are being abused all over again.

I think that most medical and dental professionals are not aware that the person in the chair or on the table in front of them may have childhood sexual abuse issues. I’m sure that many physicians and dentists have the same experiences as you do, but many – if not most – seem to be insensitive to this problem. Awareness of sexual abuse histories is generally not taught in medical or dental schools, to my knowledge. Although there are undoubtedly some doctors and dentists who were victimized as children, they probably push this experience to the back of their minds when in a professional situation.

I am not a survivor, but I’ve had a couple of situations in the past few years that made me feel uncomfortable in physicians’ offices. When I had a colonoscopy a few years ago, I realized that the doctor was going about his business like I either should know what was coming or there was no reason for me to know what to expect. It was my first colonoscopy and I did not know what exactly was going to happen since the doctor was pretty basic in his greeting and preparation for the procedure.

He started the process and I told him that I work with male survivors of sexual abuse and found his lack of preliminary information felt as sudden moves, which were intrusive and somewhat startling. Had I been a victim of anal penetration, I might have had a strong reaction, either physically or emotionally, to what he was doing. He basically thanked me for the input, which I suspected was due more to my status as an assertive patient in his estimation, rather than as an overly sensitive patient or survivor of sexual abuse.

One survivor, in an attempt to educate his doctor wrote:

My urologist asked me about stress in my life. I told him I was working on it. Told him I was seeing a therapist regarding some childhood sexual abuse. I figured this was fairly important to tell him because of issues with scar tissue and pain during a biopsy. He was quite uncomfortable with that info. I asked him if I was the first to ever tell him that. I was. It was a teaching moment. Told him one in every six boys is molested by 16. Told him about MaleSurvivor. Told him he probably needed to be on the look out for symptoms in his line of work. He seemed to not especially grasp it or didn't care. Either one, it was just another small attempt to educate the public about CSA.

If you are fearful of the rectal exam, particularly if you are of the age or have a medical family history where you should be examined, you may die for your avoidance of a colonoscopy or other unpleasant procedure. While this valuable medical course of action is recommended for all men over 50 and also for those younger who have a family history of colon or rectal cancer, many men avoid it because of the intrusive process around their anus. (Although many say that the worst part is the preparation with lots of laxatives and enemas the night before.)

Sometimes, the avoidance or fear of physicians is tied into the belief that they might know about the abuse from doing the examination. We are sometimes brought up with the belief that physicians or others in a position of authority will know what has happened to us. One survivor recounts his childhood experience.

I don't trust doctors. I have a memory of when I was around 6 or 7 and my family doctor examined my genitals. I recall being extremely scared that he'd know what they had been used for by that time... Not only that but being exposed was so uncomfortable. I always feel so intimidated by doctors.

Although most sexual abuse does not leave injuries or scarring, sometimes it does. Some survivors carry the physical damage for many years and are unwilling to go for treatment because of the shame connected with the abuse. This is another example of the legacy of the abuse – it continues to trap and control the survivor long after the abuse ended.

A survivor in his 50s writes: “I have colon surgery coming up to deal with old scarring from when I was a kid, and of course I'm not looking forward to that. But I will do it because I know it's in my best interest.” Apparently, it took many years for him to motivate himself to take care of an old problem. Sometimes, the victim may feel like he was physically damaged, but by refusing to get an examination, he may spend years living in fear that there is still an injury, even when an examination may reveal that there was no damage or that a simple procedure can resolve it.

The doctor-patient relationship is never one of equality. The doctor is generally more educated than you, probably making more money than you, presumably has his life more together than you, and is not your buddy or equal in this relationship. You enter that association feeling a notch or two below where he is. In reality, he may be having a more difficult time than you regarding his life but that is not the condition you generally will be seeing when you come for an appointment on his turf.

For survivors, the abuse took place in an unequal environment. The abuser was stronger, older, and had more resources than you had at the time. That may be the situation that you are feeling with the physician. Even though you might be older than the doctor, he still is in a position of authority and power over you. You might be a powerful person in your job function but when you go to the doctor or dentist’s office, you will likely be treated the same as someone who is working for minimum wage at the local supermarket. Your status doesn’t have any weight there unless you are either well known to the office or famous.

I make the assumption that status as a survivor is not something most medical professionals or their staff knows anything about. A few years ago, I went to my cardiologist’s office for a routine exam. As per the procedures, I was weighed and given a blood pressure exam before seeing the cardiologist. The nurse who took my vitals also got my blood pressure. She was a short, heavy woman who grasped my left arm to take my pressure. She pulled my arm into her crotch to get a good grasp on my arm and I felt a bit uncomfortable thinking that if a female abused me, I might find this seemingly innocent movement to be intrusive.

I mentioned this to my cardiologist (one of eight in the practice which shared clerical and nursing staff) and she said she would pass this on to the other doctors and advise the nurses. The next time I went in for an appointment, the nurse took care to minimize contact. I’ve been there four more times since and have not had the intrusive experience again so I assume the nursing staff got the message, although I don’t think I was singled out as the complainer in this busy practice.

A big problem with survivors is that the discomfort they feel in dealing with medical professionals has kept many from getting the necessary treatment they need to prevent loss of teeth or maintaining medical health. Although the process of preparing for a colonoscopy has turned many men off and discouraged them from having this necessary medical procedure done, the additional issue of fear in the physical exam has put so many more in danger of untreated disease or conditions.

It is important to educate medical professionals about the needs and emotional issues many survivors have. Unfortunately, the profession is not always open to hear about sexual abuse. In my experience, a group of us, led by the then-president of MaleSurvivor, who is a psychiatrist, found that the American Medical Association’s annual conference did not have enough interest in the topic of sexual abuse of males to sustain a workshop for more than 25 medical attendees one year. We received good evaluations from those who attended the workshop, but when we offered it the next year but the Association was not interested, although tens of thousands of physicians attend this important conference.

So, what do you do? If you are an activist, tell your dentist and physicians that they should be sensitive to male survivors. You don’t have to educate them about the statistics or what research says. Simply telling them that you had this problem in childhood is another purposeful disclosure for you. Although some physicians or dentist may not want to hear your message, there are some who will. If you sense that your medical professional is not interested, consider that a grounds for leaving and finding a new one. That may be hard to do, particularly if you live in a place where there are not a lot of doctors or a place where physicians don’t take new patients.

I think it is important to let a dentist or physician know that you have a history of sexual abuse. It is not necessary and I believe that most doctors or dentists won’t have the time or interest in knowing the “gory details” of your abuse. If one should ask you that information, all you need to say is “I’m not ready to talk about that at this time”. That should give them the basic information to be more sensitive and you can tell (or not) the details at a later time, if you wish. My sense is that they probably won’t ask again, but at least you got the message across and they will hopefully act with more sensitivity and understanding.

One survivor recently wrote in a discussion about dentists:

So this morning, had my dentist appointment. I was sooooo nervous I thought I was gonna be sick, So as the dentist comes over I tell him right away that I am extremely nervous and that I am one of those people that fear going to the dentist. I said something that happened in my childhood made me nervous so if he could please tell me what he is going to do before he does it I would be most appreciative. So he says that it’s no problem and if at any time I feel really uncomfortable just wave at him and he will stop.

Then he goes on to question if what happened to me was related to a bad experience at the dentist, and now I have no idea what to say or how to respond. I tried to say that "I am a survivor of ...” I couldn't get myself to “childhood sexual abuse”. So after a short silence, 10 seconds maybe, I say “I was molested when I was a kid”. He just nods his head and says it will be OK. I feel shocked because of what I just said! It was weird, I did not feel ashamed. I felt very relieved for getting that part over with, and somewhat proud of myself for saying it.

Being assertive and speaking up for yourself is very important. As long as you keep the abuse a secret, you are doing what the abuser wanted you to do – keep quiet. There is great power in disclosure, when you are ready. Telling a medical or dental professional may be an easier step than telling others who have a more personal relationship with you. One survivor put it this way:

My own experience with doctors is that now I always say I am a survivor of CSA. In most cases it has gone well and I feel I am treated in a more caring and attentive way. On one occasion, when I told a nurse who was poking at me, she said, “Oh, well okay. I guess we have to think about that”, which struck me as a way of saying, “What are you talking about?” I had caught her by surprise and she wasn’t prepared to hear what I was telling her. But even in that case, never mind: I said it!

When I told my family doctor she was grateful and said that doctors should always be ready for comments like this because it helps them to relate to their patients better. When I return for checkups or anything else now, she always asks me how I am doing in therapy. It’s great to have support like that.

But most importantly, I think, is the fact that when I tell a medical person about my past I am empowering myself and asking for my needs to be met, something I could never do as an abused boy. Being able to do that now, after so many years of feeling doomed, ashamed and condemned to silence, still sometimes overwhelms me.

A survivor I work with recently told me that he first told his wife, then his mother-in-law, then me, then his brother, and later a few friends and colleagues. Then he talked to a reporter for the local paper where the abuse had taken place. This last conversation was six months after he first told his wife. He said the emotional upset he felt from the first disclosure was like night and day when compared to the one with the reporter. The first disclosures were emotional and upsetting. By the time he spoke with the reporter, he was totally comfortable talking about the details that were so difficult in the earlier disclosures. This survivor happens to be a physician who is an anesthesiologist.

Edited by Ken Singer, LCSW (02/04/08 06:41 PM)
Blissfully retired after 35 years treating sexual abuse

#203565 - 02/04/08 11:45 PM Re: UGGG! parents trigers [Re: theatrekid]
frost Offline

Registered: 03/15/07
Posts: 1377
Loc: Eh?

Let me first say, great rant!

There are people on this planet that will simply never understand what it's like to be a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. That's obvious. Sometimes, those close to us survivors will make genuine attempts to figure it all out but like David mentioned, it's like a foreign language to them and they will never have that first-hand knowledge of it like most on this board do.

Take comfort in knowing that you are heard, your frustrations are so deeply understood here and I do have one suggestion that might help you out in the future.

Part of the problem is, these things aren't your choice. Your darling mother made the decision that you're going to go to the dentist and doctor and hair and every other appointment you've probably ever had in your entire life.

Why don't you try canceling all of those appointments she made for you, then phoning back the next day to reschedule them, yourself. Perhaps by this simple fact that you've taken the initiative and it's YOUR choice to make the appointments and they aren't something anyone is forcing you to do, will make all the difference?

One thing I've learned about sexual abuse is that it is hugely about 'control'. Taking control of our lives as survivors is critical and I think you have an opportunity to do that here.

All the best,


#203571 - 02/05/08 12:22 AM Re: UGGG! parents trigers [Re: frost]
theatrekid Offline

Registered: 06/03/07
Posts: 702
Loc: oregon
Thanks every body David i really like the analogy about a foreign language. As the school year gets closer to ending and college gets closer i know i am going to have to go to the doctors so in the next few months no matter what i will have to go. So thanks for the support and encouragement.

Ken great info thanks, it was very insightful

Brian i already do make my own appointments, my mom doesn't force me to go. She just nags at me until i do \:\( so rescheduling them wouldn't do much because when it comes down to it i am the one that actually calls to make the appointment in the first place.

Anyways thanks every body for, Christopher

Edited by theatrekid (02/05/08 12:23 AM)

#203639 - 02/05/08 09:31 AM Re: UGGG! parents trigers [Re: theatrekid]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA

Since I disclosed to my parents a few years ago my mother in particular has tried to be a good source of support. But many times she just doesn't "get it", and sometimes that triggers me no end. Like you, I wonder, "How can she even ask a question like that?"

At least part of the answer is that for many people who have had only very traditional sexual experiences, understanding what a survivor has been through is just impossible. They can't even fathom what happened, much less appreciate the emotional impact. My mother, for example, asked my sister one day, "You don't think that terrible man made Larry do oral sex do you?"


Much love,

Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

#203718 - 02/05/08 10:54 PM Re: UGGG! parents trigers [Re: roadrunner]
rehpotsirhcs Offline

Registered: 10/11/07
Posts: 204

My mom is the same way. Besides being completely annoying, she does not seem to listen to things I say. The important phrase she used is "I don't understand". I don't know if she will ever be able to fully understand your abuse but if you try to think of ways to help her grasp your feelings about certain things (like dentist/doctor/hair cut) then maybe you guys won't run into as many frustrations. Somethings might be: Bringing up the topic with her, writing about things that bother you, asking her questions, or having her ask you questions.

As far as the dentist appointment goes... it is a tough call. I can't stand having a guy poke in my mouth and I really can't stand the fake, happy beside manner they seem to have. But, teeth are important. I hope you continue to go to the dentist/doctor/haircuts when you are totally independent and living on your own. The only way to lessen the anxiety, I think, is to make it a positive experience. When you are in the car driving there, sitting in the waiting room, or actually in the office you can try certain things to calm yourself. For example, you can take really DEEP breaths, you can tell yourself you are SAFE, and/or think of a happy place (for me it would be a beach with a nice ocean breeze). Also, if you are on good terms with your mom before the appointment then it might be more positive for you.

These are just my thoughts. I did not read the responses the other guys gave you, so they might have already said all of this stuff. I enjoyed talking with you in chat and I think you are a really cool guy... plus, we both have the best name on the whole forum!

-Chris \:\)

#203730 - 02/05/08 11:31 PM Re: UGGG! parents trigers [Re: rehpotsirhcs]
Freedom49 Offline

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 2724
Loc: Washington State
As anoying as she was at times, I would give anything to be able to see and talk with my mom one more time.............


Edited by Freedom49 (02/05/08 11:32 PM)


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