* Trigger Warning - child abuse*

Feb 07, 2021

Day 0 writing challenge - Theme is change

I was such an accident prone child growing up that I was always in and out of the local hospital A&E department. Family used to joke that I would do anything to see my mother who worked the night shift there as a humble receptionist at what used to be referred to then as casualty reception. Perhaps it literally was 'no accident' that I forked through my thumb pricking sausages, burnt my arm moving a chip pan, lodged a piece of wood under my thumb nail and countless, various head injuries. Maybe I did just want to see where my mum worked. Where was this place that stole her away so often? Why did she prefer it there? I must have been very intrigued because I went there alot. 'Oh so you're Sheila's youngest' they would chime as they patched me up.

Despite these injuries, or maybe because of them, I was a pretty resilient and healthy child. I only ever remember being taken to the doctors twice. Once for a migraine as a teenager and once when I was much younger, maybe 5 or 6. My only steer on my age is that I remember wearing knickers and a vest and standing on the cold floor feeling slightly chilled. I remember the huge desk and standing behind it with the doctor, while my mother sat the other side with a benign smile on her face. It seemed like she was a whole continent away. He listened to my heart with his stethoscope. The hard cold metal sandwiched against my warm skin. The texture of his beard as he came close to listen to my beating rabbit heart. Then, strangely, his hand between my legs, pressed there for what seemed like an age. I looked over at my mum, her benign smile still in place. I remember feeling that this wasn't right but not knowing why. Of course, as a 6 year old, I didn't know then that there wasn't any reason to be feeling for anything 'down there'. I just instinctively knew that it wasn't right. A particular feeling that some line was crossed, some boundary was torn down.

I have thought about this scene so often as an adult because now, as an adult, I absolutely know, that there was no reason to be 'checking' down there. I suppose as a child there was the explanation that this was a legitimate health check. 

I also wonder often why mum sat there with the benign smile. Could she not see? That desk was huge. As an adult I have never spoken to her about it either. I guess I don't want her to feel bad, especially not now.

Recently this memory was brought back into sharp focus when I read about The Truth Project's findings into Child Sex Survivors accounts of abuse at the hands of healthcare professionals. The Truth Project is part of the  Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has been witnessing and learning from the experiences of survivors since 2016. 4295 brave survivors have shared their story since the Truth Project started and 3% of those involve abuse by a healthcare professional it was reported in December 2020.