Showing posts with label A Day for the Heart. Show all posts
Showing posts with label A Day for the Heart. Show all posts

17 June 2018

Someone Else's Nightmare


by Mary Fernando

“Some men hear the word ‘no’ from a woman, and they push harder with a side of violence,” says Dr. Sampsel. 

As a Clinical Forensic Medical Examiner, Dr. Kari Sampsel is the only Canadian physician with a fellowship in Clinical Forensic Sciences. Dr. Kari Sampsel is an Attending Staff Emergency Physician and the Medical Director of the Sexual Assault and Partner Abuse Care Program at The Ottawa Hospital. As the Medical Director of the Sexual Assault and Partner Abuse Care Program, when victims of  sexual violence come into the emergency room, she is in charge of the rape kit, assessments of sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy as well as setting up long-term physical and mental health care for these victims.

She states that statistics show that one out of every three women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Although those who come into the emergency room are overwhelmingly 18- to 24-year-olds, women of all ages are raped, even those in their 80s.  Since 85% of rape victims know the attacker, Dr. Sampsel says that one of the crucial questions to ask is,“Do you feel safe?” and that this should be a screening question for all rapes. 

Interestingly, Dr. Sampsel says that younger woman are more likely to come into the emergency room to prevent disease and pregnancy, but it is women in their forties who are more likely to complete the evidence kit. Older women want justice but younger women may only want physical safety. 

During the ten years Dr. Sampsel has run the unit, she has seen a marked rise in the number of rape victims coming for help. However, she points out that it is only 10-20% of rape victims who seek help immediately. Some rape victims don't come in because stigma and shame keep them from reporting the rape. Interestingly, Dr. Sampsel says that after being raped, many are confused about what happened. This is only in part because of the use of alcohol or drugs. More often it is that trauma makes it difficult to remember. Later, they may get snippets of memory of the event.

A large proportion of rape victims develop recurrent symptoms like headaches and abdomen pain. Dr. Sampsel’s work is also to educate doctors in the emergency room and family doctors’ offices to recognize these symptoms and ask the right questions. 


I asked Dr. Sampsel how we can decrease the incidence of rape. She hones in on education. On three fronts.

The first thing we need to do to reduce the incidence of rape begins with our children. Young people should be educated in the need for consent on all levels. You don't have to give a hug unless you consent. If you are uncomfortable, you should walk away and adults should support this rather than be embarrassed.

In the emergency rooms and doctors’ offices: there needs to be an education campaign by those in the field, clarifying what to do with rape victims who seek help immediately and also those who come in later. Protocols for treatment need to be in place and these have to be adequately funded to mean anything.

On a societal level, Dr. Sampsel would like to see a public campaign, perhaps like the one that educates people on the signs of stroke. One piece of this would obviously be about consent and how it needs to be given in every circumstance of physical contact. This might seem extreme to some; however, if I rephrased it and said that every person entering your home needs consent and an invitation, it seems like common sense, does it not?

The other piece of this is what Dr. Sampsel calls a social contract: what is done privately between people should be up to the standards of what is allowed in polite and civil society, where we all adhere to the basic principle that how we treat others is how we would like to be treated. This has the perfect makings of a public campaign. 


With one in three women being assaulted, this looks like a healthcare epidemic to me. It rivals the chance of getting cancer or having a stroke. So, perhaps the same steps to reduce the problem are in order. The steps outlined - prevention, identification and public awareness - seem long overdue.


One final and haunting statement from Dr. Sampsel: “People need to realize that their flirtations may be the makings of someone else’s nightmare.”


15 February 2013

A Day for the Heart


by R.T. Lawton

Okay, so it's the day after Valentine's Day, which means that my turn for an article comes up one day late to land directly on the 14th, but I hope you'll allow me a little leeway here. See, Valentine's Day is my wedding anniversary, so just pretend that everything is correctly aligned. Naturally, I'm supposed to be sentimental during this holiday of the year and thus, shall we say, exposing my softer side to my significant other. One further fact to know, if all goes according to plan, she and I should be lounging in Maui for the umpteenth time even as you read this. (I strongly suspect that Kiti slipped that little clause into the fine print of our marriage contract when I wasn't looking.)

Anyway, Valentine's Day speaks of lovers, romance, flowers, chocolates, roughly anything that melts the female heart and makes it go all gooey. At this point, you, the reader, will have to reflect back into your own Valentine's Days of the past and dwell pleasurably for a couple of moments on whatever worked for you.

In my case, my wife has a little red book stashed away in the lingerie drawer of her dresser. This particular hard-bound book is filled with hand-written poems composed by yours truly whilst gripped in the all encompassing embrace of infatuation. I'm sure most of you have been in some form of that condition at one stage or another of your life. To that end, I wrote all these poems in order to win the hand and heart of my lady love, and in the process filled up every page in that little red book. And no, you can't read it.

Most of the poems are very personal and/or have meaning only to the two of us. Realize that these scribblings aren't exactly sonnets by Shakespeare. Furthermore, need I remind you that when I returned to college shortly after my twelve month tour of Southeast Asia, I took my war poems into the WSU English Department seeking further guidance along these lines and was promptly not encouraged to continue any efforts in the field of poetry. But due to persistence (some would politely suggest hard-headedness) it turns out that the heart likes what the heart likes.

As a sample of my beginning strategy in this win-the-heart endeavor, here's part of an early poem during the courtship:

Please forgive my muddled mind,
it's seldom on the path.
It's not so good in English
and even worse in math.

But as I recall the contract
or the game as it is played,
one poem for one kiss
was the bargain that we made.

*  *  (okay, skip to closing)  *  *

I have no fear about the debt
for as I can plainly see,
you are a lady on your honor
and would not a debtor be.

Oh yeah, working on getting that kiss. Okay, so you had to be there. Shelley or Byron, it's not. Probably not even as good as the first recorded Valentine poem written by Chaucer in 1382 for King Richard the Second to give to his intended bride, and that one was composed in the language of Middle English, but mine are at least a step up from the "Roses are red, Violets are blue..." category. My main point being, hey, give the love of your life some personal hand-written poetry and watch their eyes light up. Go ahead, it's not too late even if Valentine's Day was actually yesterday. It doesn't need to be a professional job, it just needs to be from you, from your heart.

Yep, you can bet I got kissed with them poems. A lot. A whole book full, you might say.