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‘My worst experience with a doctor happened on my own, when I was just 13 years old.'

I was 13. I booked my own appointment, which made my mother proud at the time. I had been quiet and withdrawn and when I told her I wanted to go to the doctor, my behaviour must have made more sense to her. She dropped me off one morning before school.

I was so scared. She called my name and I thought my legs would buckle as I stood up. It dawned on me as I sat down in the small sterile room that I wouldn’t be able to tell her why I was here, why I was so scared, why I hadn’t said a word to anyone but my mother in weeks.

My memory of the appointment is hazy, I never quite told her why I wasn’t myself anymore, but I remember her harsh tone of voice when she asked me

“Are you sexually active?”

Doctor
Image: Getty.

I froze and the never ending pit in my stomach opened, blood rushing to my head. Deep breaths. She did some tests but I felt myself falling back into a mute anxiety attack. She scheduled me in to come back in just a few days. This was years ago, the NHS was not what it was today (it was much better).

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I sat back in her sterile office the following week. I was beginning to feel better, I had stopped having nightmares every night and started speaking to my friends at school a little more everyday.

“Your test results came back positive for chlamydia. How does a 13-year-old contract chlamydia? I don’t even let my daughter out past nine, God knows what you were up to”.

“I… I was -”

“You were stupid and irresponsible. I don’t think I’ve ever known someone so young to contract a serious sexually transmitted disease, quite frankly I’m disgusted.”

Each word burned a hole in my heart, I was so disgusted with myself.

“I was raped”.

“You can’t just claim this now! Because you don’t want to take responsibility for your actions and your body no doubt. Why were you not using protection if you insist on being sexually active when you’re still a child?”

I nodded, grabbed the antibiotics and ran outside before the tears started falling and my breath was pushed out of my ribs as if crushed by a hydraulic press. I didn't go to school for another week, didn't tell my mother anything. From then on, I was terrified of going to the doctors due to what must be on my file. Even at 17 when I was in my first steady/serious relationship I wouldn’t go back to discuss contraception due to the burning shame I still felt.

It took me longer to trust doctors than it did to trust men or the touch of others due to that callous cold woman, who brushed off my dark secret – that was eating me up from the inside out – and so easily signed me off as an easy little slut.

The next time I allowed myself to go to the GP I was living somewhere else, yet still it petrified me. It took a lot of persuasion and sweet talking from a kind coworker at the time – and it’s lucky she forced me to go because I was immediately admitted to A&E for an emergency appendectomy, potentially saving my life.

This post originally appeared on Quora and was republished here with full permission. 

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