Welcome to the SpeakOut! Blog

Break the silence that surrounds sexual assault, sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, relationship abuse, stalking, hate crimes, and identity-based violence. Share your story here on our anonymous blog.

To speak about an experience with any form of interpersonal violence is difficult, but it is also empowering. Breaking the silence reduces shame and helps others to speak out about their own experiences.

End the shame. Be empowered. Speak Out!

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We are holding our first fall Speak Out! in October 26th, 2017 from 7-9 pm in The Pit. For more information, check our Facebook page.

Because this blog features stories of interpersonal and sexual violence, we offer this *content warning* as a way of caution. We also ask that you do not reproduce any of the content below, as the authors of these personal stories are anonymous, and cannot give consent for their stories to appear anywhere other than this blog or at a Project Dinah-led SpeakOut event.

Monday, October 29, 2007

When I worked as a nurse practitioner for many years, I developed radar for the patient for whom the prospect of a pelvic exam set off overwhelming panic. I suspect most of these patients were the victims of childhood sexual abuse. I routinely asked everyone about violence, and there was a question on every intake form about childhood abuse, but not everyone remembers or is ready to talk about it. An adolescent just wants to get the pelvic exam over, get their pills, get out. They may be under pressure to have sex with their boyfriend, and may be only dimly aware of unresolved sexual and power issues. I once had a collegeage patient who denied abuse every year, yet when it came time for the insertion of the vaginal speculum, she seemed to drift away. No matter how sensitively done, her eyes would glaze over, she would become unresponsive to my questions, turn her face to the wall and begin a series of deep, croupy coughs that lasted throughout the speculum exam and the manual pelvic exam. I thought with bitter admiration of the little girl, fighting it the best she could with the negative vaginal pressure from the deep coughing, learning to dissociate herself from the awful reality. Her coping armamentarium was maladaptive for normal adult life, but it had gotten her through her desperate childhood situation. Since she never responded to my gentle inquiries about abuse, I just showed her a brochure with the phone number of the rape crisis center and tucked in with her other papers. Whoever knows when or where kindness and sensitivity will bear real fruit and lead to a healthy adulthood?

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