Speak Up

This past Saturday, I hurried into an urgent care office for a steroid shot because my eczema was flaring up. After a female nurse took my vitals, she left the room, and a male doctor, around my dad’s age, came in to take a look at my legs. He seemed kind, friendly, helpful.  He had me lay on my belly and lifted my dress and felt my butt and gave it a small slap. Then asked me to lay on my back and proceeded to move around my bikini bottoms, looking for more signs of eczema. The way his hands touched me–something about it felt off, unprofessional, a bit too sensual. And all I did was try to continue conversation casually because I felt uncomfortable. It’s in these moments of uncertainty I lose my voice. I, who has no problem speaking up and voicing my concerns, gets small, like a child, when I feel uncertain around authority. I, at 31 years old, didn’t have the audacity to state: “Excuse me, please do not touch me like that.” Instead I laid there, trying to feign a friendly demeanor because he was the authority and I was the patient and who’s to say what he was doing wasn’t okay?

If I was unable to speak up, how could we ever believe children would find the power within to say when something doesn’t feel right?

I felt as I did at 25 when I, belly down, with no female in the room, laid naked on a surgery table with two male doctors standing behind me, staring at my bare body, cutting out a small pre-cancerous section from my tush, the overhead lights glaring and showing every curve and crevasse of my youthful body. I laid there, incredibly uncomfortable, unsure how to question their authority. With my cheek to the table, I just stared at the wall in silence. I share this because it reminds me, that even I, someone who considers herself an extremely strong woman, can very quickly revert to a child—fearful, uncertain, voiceless. It’s important to empower ourselves to speak up. ***
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Written by Sabrina Must

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