Your Stories

Here we share your stories of sexism, sexual harassment and sexual assault in healthcare. Every story is a powerful testimony, describing lived experiences and the impact of sexual violence.

Thank you to every person who has shared their story with us.

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These stories contain descriptions of sexism, sexual harassment, and sexual violence.

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All Stories — Page 14 of 15


One of the consultants was handing a patient over to me. The patient had likely broken their radius and ulna, but rather than ask me to look out for the x-ray and what the likely diagnosis was, he took my arm and (there is no other word for it) caressed my distal radius and ulna whilst telling me how they might have broken “here and here” whilst looking intensely into my eyes. I was made to feel really uncomfortable, and I just do not think that would have happened if I was male


In medical school all the girls would be told to stay away from this one cardiology consultant who did a lot of teaching. Unfortunately the med school arranged for us to shadow in groups on the cardiology wards and he often got assigned groups of med students to take on ward rounds. I realised what the older students meant during one of his ward rounds when he kept staring at our breasts during the round. He would ask a question then his eyes would go straight down to your chest and stay there while you answered the question. It would happen repeatedly during every ward round and we would give a supportive smile or quick “you ok?” to each other as we moved around the ward when his back was turned.


Being assigned to doctors on wards can be great or it can be a nightmare. You have no say over who you are going to be paired with, you spend lots of time together especially if doing nights or late shifts which makes you vulnerable. I was assigned to a senior male O&G reg on labour ward for the week. We were meant to stay there overnight in case of any births in some dingy flats next to the hospital. The reg was overly flirty, pervy and suggestively told me that he also had a room in the flats wink wink. Apparently he had been dating one of the other med students but had just broken up and he offered to cook me dinner (this seemed weird as he was over 15 years older than her and her version of events were very different). Anyway, I repeatedly told him I HAD A BOYFRIEND. But he wouldn’t leave me alone, I was dreading the nights I would have to stay in the hospital with him. Thankfully the day before I was due to stay there I injured my ankle and ended up on crutches. The senior midwife told me I couldn’t work on labour ward with crutches and I delightfully had to stay at home. The relief was immense as I dread what could have happened if I had worked those night shifts with him.


At a surgical conference there was a dinner in the evening and plenty of alcohol being splashed around. It was a hive of drunk male surgeons, leering over the female attendees. At my table there were 3 male SHOs all boasting about their recent surgical endeavours. They were appalled to see two female FY2s (me and my friend) interested in surgery at my table, repeatedly asking why we wanted to be surgeons and “aren’t you all going to leave when you get knocked up”. They described one of the very successful female surgical consultants as an “effing spinster” and “a monster”. Later on at the bar one of the surgical consultants at my hospital came up to me commenting how nice I looked and asked if I wanted a drink. Whilst he did that he ran his hand along my waist and down across my buttocks. I froze panicking but fortunately someone else came over to him and I managed to duck out. I escaped back to my hotel wondering how on earth he could behave like that with a partner and two young children at home, at work he always seemed so nice wandering around showing us all photos of his kids. When I got home from the conference there were texts flying around with gossip from the night before. One of male consultants had drunkenly shown up at a female SHO’s room propositioning her. The SHO and her friend yelled at the consultant and threatened to call his wife and he quickly ran off. All I remember is feeling so shocked about everything I’d witnessed, calling my parents, and thinking is this really the career I want to go in to.


In my FY1 year one my friends came up to me and told me male surgical registrars, SHOs and foundation doctors had been discussing which female FY1 doctor has the best bottom in what they called the Rear of the Year competition. Apparently these doctors had been getting together in the doctor’s mess to debate this and they had decided I had won. I was aware they were all a bit too smiley around me, after that I felt very self conscious and worried about what I was wearing to work every day. I would deliberately try to hide my body every time I saw one of those doctors behind a desk or chair on the wards.


After being offered a GP partnership, I attended a meeting where the male partners began to dictate the terms of my partnership. When I voiced concern that I couldn’t work a particular day, which they already knew about, due to childcare commitments, I was told I had to chose between work and family. What ensued was a interrogation of my personal life by my male colleagues, telling me what to do about my childcare, and asking me to get my husband to change his job! I chose my family over work after clearly realising they weren’t going to be flexible, or listen to me at all and that wasn’t ‘partnership’ to me. They told me I wasn’t cut out to be a partner because of my children. No regrets here, but once again an illustration of misogyny at large in the NHS.


Scrubbed into theatre as a medical student with an all male surgical team… Senior (male) consultant just stands next to me (not scrubbed in), watching the operation, with his hand on my waist…


Mid consultation with a male patient he told me that I could lose weight if I ate more salad. He also told me that I looked really good and thinner when I wore a dress. I have not worn a dress to work since this conversation.


Being told by a GP I had previously respected that female consultants aren’t worth the money they cost to train because “you’ll just get pregnant and go less than full time and the men have to pick up the slack” This has made it so much harder to tell people at work I’m pregnant now, and I feel guilty every time I have to step back from work, but I also want to protect my child.


A patient threatened to follow me to the car and rape me then kill my family. When I raised this to a female senior she said “oh he’s drunk, just ignore him, you’re over reacting.” My male consultant said it wasn’t worth raising a datix about and the patient was well know for his difficult behaviour. I had nightmares for weeks and still hate walking out to my car alone after a late shift. I look back on this as a female consultant now and am horrified at the advice I was given. Threats of sexual violence should not be accepted behaviour. I would never leave my juniors in a room with a patient like that, or allow alcohol as an excuse.


As a new ST1 in surgery we all got asked to attend the school of surgery’s induction day. During a lecture the deputy head of the school asked us what would prevent us from doing extra reading at the weekends. One female trainee said having to do cleaning at home/childcare. The deputy head (also a consultant surgeon) laughed at her, encouraging the male trainees to join in, and suggested she wasn’t cut out for surgical training. She had about 50 people laughing at her and made my heart sink as a fellow trainee.


During our ST1 year we were all worried about our initial meetings with supervisors and mine was booked with the head of the school for surgery. The trainees were talking about how fearsome the head of school was when one of the male trainees looked at me and said “don’t worry, he likes the girls” and winked at me.


I was a trainee on a course where two consultants from my department were faculty. One of them said he was worried I had had too much to drink and would walk me back to my accommodation. He invited himself in and suddenly turned on me sexually. I couldn’t stop him. Afterwards he said nasty and humiliating things and laughed uncontrollably when I saw him next. He told some of his colleagues what he had done. I recognised that I was surrounded by misogynists and that even the people I had socialised with or looked up to would make it worse if I spoke to them about it, so I didn’t. One of the other consultants said, when I let him know that I was leaving the department ‘I reckon it’s only a matter of time before one of my sons violates some woman.’


Told I should have my tubes tied before applying for ST3 otherwise it would be a waste to give a training job to someone who may get pregnant……


As I was leaving the hospital I noticed a consultant surgeon walking out the door just behind me. He was well known to be ‘over-friendly’ to females. He followed me to the car park, grabbed me and tried to drag me into his car saying he wanted me to try out the seats. He only stopped when another consultant surgeon walked around the corner and he released me. I ran! The next morning I ended up anaesthetising his list. He made lewd comments all morning to the point that all theatre staff and my clinical supervisor assumed we were having an affair. I explained to my clinical supervisor what had happened. He laughed, called in some of the other consultants to theatre to joke about it and asked me if I needed counselling then told me to toughen up as it happens to a lot of the girls.