Facebook Pixel

Helping Sexual Abuse Victims Overcome Negative Reactions to Pap Smears

By HERWriter
Rate This
victims of sexual abuse can be helped to overcome fear of Pap smears Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Thinkstock

Having a gynecological exam has never been a pleasant experience, but for some women it can go beyond the usual uncomfortable feeling.

Some sexual abuse victims may have such anxiety and fear over getting a Pap smear that they avoid them altogether, according to a study published in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care.

Only about half of British sexual abuse victims in the small study received a Pap smear in the last five years, whereas the rate for the general population is around 79 percent.

Pap smears might trigger trauma responses and cause survivors to feel victimized. Some survivors report that the feeling of loss of control and the uncomfortable and even painful probing of the exam reminds them of their past.

Other past victims state that their examiner lacked sensitivity and had poor communication. Victims are also embarrassed about having to explain their experiences and the remaining visible signs of their abuse.

It’s especially important for survivors to get Pap smears because they might be more at risk for cervical cancer. The study provided some suggestions for making Pap smears more bearable.

The study suggested that from abuse victims’ responses they might have more positive experiences with Pap smears:

- if they have time to discuss their fears over the screening

- if they have a supportive person with them during the test,

- if they deal with a professional who is understanding

- if they are in a comfortable and private area for the test

- if there was a signal that could be used to stop the test if necessary

Professionals should also avoid using the trigger word “relax” during the test, because that word is sometimes used by perpetrators during an act of abuse.

A sexual abuse victim and professionals give suggestions on how to overcome negative emotions associated with Pap smears.

Maureen Clancy, a licensed clinical social worker, said in an email that she had a client who won’t receive a Pap smear because of the helpless feeling she gets lying down with her feet in stirrups.

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

チャンルー メンズ [url=http://www.chanluuseikai.com/]チャンルー[/url] チャンルーブレスレット チャンルー ブレスレット [url=http://www.chanluuseikai.com/]チャンルー ブレスレット[/url] chan luuメンズ チャンルー ストール チャンルーブレスレット チャンルー ストール [url=http://www.chanluuseikai.com/]チャンルー メンズ[/url] チャンルー chan luu http://www.chanluukakaku.com/ チャンルー ストール チャンルーブレスレット [url=http://www.chanluuburando.com/]チャンルーブレスレット[/url] チャンルー ストール チャンルーブレスレット チャンルー チャンルーブレスレット [url=http://www.chanluuburando.com/]chan luuメンズ[/url] チャンルー ブレスレット chan luu [url=http://www.chanluuburando.com/]chan luu[/url] http://www.chanluuseikai.com/ チャンルーブレスレット チャンルー ブレスレット [url=http://www.chanluukakaku.com/]チャンルー メンズ[/url] チャンルー ブレスレット チャンルー ストール [url=http://www.chanluukakaku.com/]チャンルー ブレスレット[/url] チャンルー ブレスレット チャンルー [url=http://www.chanluukakaku.com/]チャンルー[/url] チャンルー ブレスレット

June 6, 2013 - 7:47pm
EmpowHER Guest

Great article!

I am happy to be included as a voice and resource for survivors and health care providers.

You can find me at www.maureen-clancy.com.

Warm Regards,
Maureen Clancy, MSW, LCSW

October 22, 2012 - 8:00am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.