"lack of awareness & sensitivity for victims of sexual violence"

About: South London And Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

(as the patient),

I've been really appalled by ongoing failures by SLAM services in their approach toward me as a victim of sexual violence.

I had enjoyed good health all my life but became depressed following an assault 8 years ago. Despite having requested a female therapist during my first assessment (and many times since), I was given a male CBT therapist, which unsurprisingly left me further distressed. The response by SLAM was to send me to another service, where this time I was assessed briefly by a male consultant, who provocatively then decided to allocate me to another male therapist, claiming (wrongly) that issues of sexual trauma requires no particular consideration relative to other 'traumas' such as being gay or adopted.

Compounding the lack of understanding of power relations, sexual and gender issues arising in sexual violence, this second therapist, for example, thought it was entirely acceptable to wear low rider jeans and short shirt which left his midriff and builders bum exposed, and rejected my expressions of how this distressed me. He insisted on using anatomical terms for genitals (whereas even bad female SLAM staff will use more careful terms) which left me feeling like I was being dissected. The upshot was that I've been left left completely silenced, internalising and repressing my feelings and memories with disastrous effect.

Aggravating this re-traumatisation, SLAM staff have victim-blamed me for my situation; for example by suggesting people re-create their problems (I've had several instances where people with more power than me have exploited this and it's entirely wrong to suggest I take responsibility for their actions), or more importantly, by treating my response to trauma as being incorrect, rather than validating the trauma itself as something I shouldn't have had to experience.

I would have -with appropriate support- been able to return to my normal life quite quickly. Instead, I've been left disempowered and thoroughly disabled- the opposite of what any reputable 'mental health' treatment should deliver. I've been passed from service to service over the years, been allocated to male therapists and care coordinators, had staff communicating poorly and routinely their abusing power in various ways including leaving me feeling unsafe in treatment, and with staff apparently incapable of understanding how such actions are recreating elements of my trauma. If I've ever tried to ask questions (including when I've been told about different new diagnoses by letter and I've wanted to speak to a clinician about what these are) I simply get told to speak to PALS, but on the couple of occasions I have done so they just email it through to the clinical staff who take no further action

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