Trauma upon trauma
A young woman who went to the hospital emergency room to report she had been raped, was given pamphlets and told she must seek assistance at another hospital, adding to her traumatic situation.
Pamphlets in hand, tears rolling down her cheeks, the young woman walked slowly away from the hospital emergency room into the early morning darkness.
She was alone and confused.
“I just felt so lost,” she said, wiping away fresh tears as she shared her story.
“I don’t know how to explain how I feel about it. I didn’t want to tell anyone that I went to the hospital. It just felt like I wasn’t their problem to deal with.”
The 22-year-old Truro woman did not wish to be identified. She was recounting a recent visit to the emergency department of Colchester East Hants Health Centre to report she’d been raped.
There, she was handed two pamphlets on the subject of sexual trauma and spoke briefly by telephone to a nurse at another hospital who is with the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program. Beyond that, she said she was essentially told the SANE program is not available in Truro and to “just go and handle it yourself.”
“When I hung up the phone I was, like, what do I do now? Do I call the police or…?”
The woman said she received no guidance and never spoke to anyone beyond front-line staff.
“I had bruises all over me,” she said. “I honestly thought something would be done. I didn’t even have a ride home. It would have been nice to talk to a doctor; I don’t know anything about what to do or what could’ve went wrong. Because it was a situation that I didn’t remember.”
Feeling embarrassed and exposed, the woman said she was offered neither consolation nor privacy.
“I was visibly crying,” she said.
“I was trying not to show the pamphlets. Nobody else got pamphlets, ‘Why did she get pamphlets? Why is she crying?’” she remembered thinking of her situation.
“They didn’t even give me a second to collect myself, they just kind of moved me along … tears were basically still rolling down my face when I had to slide the door shut.”
After leaving the hospital just past midnight, she called her mother for help.