My name is Hannah, and I was sexually molested and physically and emotionally abused by a man from ages 6 to 11. Even though I am 33 now, I struggle greatly with severe anxiety before and at least a weeks' worth of flashbacks and nightmares after a gynecological exam. The symptoms have gotten so bad that I refuse s pelvic exams, but my refusals are making my healthcare provider angry and frustrated with me, despite the fact I have disclosed these symptoms and my past experience with sexual abuse to her. Is there anything I can do to combat the anxiety leading up to the procedure or stop the flashbacks and nightmares afterward? The flashbacks typically culminate in feelings of physical pain (even days after the procedure), a sense of dread and/or intense fear, a feeling as though I am being attacked again, and intense muscle tension. I relive the intense feelings of shame and unworthiness of love. I feel "dirty" again, like I used to feel when I was young. During the nightmares, I relive all aspects of the abuse - sexual, physical, and emotional. I relive the memories I have from that time period. When I wake up, I usually have a headache, muscle tension, and a deep feeling of shame and/or despair. I desperately want to move past these flashbacks and nightmares. I have been strictly celibate since the abuse. The only time I currently experience these symptoms is in preparation, during, or after a pelvic exam. I would sincerely appreciate any help or insight which you may be able to provide. Thank you.
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