Doctors are Gods; are they not? I don’t think so, but they think they are. I once had a doctor say to me,
“Things are getting better.”
And he was right—for doctors—not for patients.
The Atlanta Journal Consitution wrote a scathing review of physicians involved in sexual assault and rape.Board of Medicines (BOM) in each state often merely provided a slap on the wrists of the offenders. The legal system, meant to protect the victim, often defers to those entities charged with protecting us. But the BOMs are protecting doctors, not patients, so we—the little guys—are left without something we hold so dear—justice.
Doctors, very typically, do not speak out against their colleagues. It’s taboo to do so. Those charged with our care hunker down and protect each other. It’s almost as if the patient is the enemy. Records are manipulated; information left out. I give you my case.
It is explicit. *Warning* I share with you records from a time after my husband’s death. I always experienced things fully. I remember bunching his clothes to my nose, smelling the last of him leaving this Earth. (There’s a wisp of a memory of his scent even now.) I can still see his sad face in my mind as he struggled with life. I grieved relentlessly, and it caused me to try to take my own life.
Trauma such as mine was not recognized during those days. Circumstances were such that I was forced to reveal certain things during my stay in Salem Hospital. Those revelations were carefully crafted out of my records. The adjoining children’s hospital did the same. There is no mention anywhere of having been assaulted as a child. Perhaps that is because they already knew about the perpetrator as outlined in my post Deception. It is a must read to get the whole picture.
I received a letter a few days ago from Partners Healthcare, outlining a reason for denial of a requested amendment I wanted to be made to my records.
It seems a man, whom I allege sexually assaulted me and manipulated my records, gets to decide if my allegations go into my record. It’s like a criminal picking through a prosecutor’s file and saying,
“No—you can’t use that or that…”
Until evidence of a crime exists no more.
Our system is flawed. We are now, and have been, protecting those who prey on others. And it’s all legal. Horrors.
So here are my records as put forth by Salem Hospital in 1981. I am sharing my most personal moments here. Handle them with care and understanding. There is a notation of “Thanks” near the doctor who describes my gynecological exam. That’s because he didn’t perform it; George Freedman did. As you see, I suffered from Reactive Depression due to my husband’s death. I had tried to self-medicate my grief away with alcohol, true, but I soon got over that. I had children to raise.
Note there is not a single mention of Tobias Friedman.
I often spoke of Tobias Friedman during my stay. It was because my attending physician’s name was Freedman. I spoke of having to stop Tobias. The rekindling of my terror made me know I had a moral duty to bring his activities to light. There were children out there to which he had access.
I was alone in this endeavor for what seemed forever. Then everything finally burst on the scene with:
A doctor finally stepped forward to help me. I will be eternally grateful. He is part of the story in Deception.I asked for his help in 1981. He declined, but took the reins in 1987 and went gung-ho.
The Amendment I requested is as follows:
A critical revelation during this hospitalization was that I had been sexually assaulted by a doctor at the age of 16.
I was a brutally battered child. I often say I survived my childhood. But my schools were telling me I had gifts, and I should move forward and become whatever I wanted to be. Ironically, I wanted to be a doctor.
I found a therapist at the age of fifteen and tried to start a journey toward healing. My therapist left that agency after about a year but first referred me to a doctor at another agency. It was a longer walk, but I was willing to make an effort. I was sixteen at the time.
The new therapist was a Dr. Friedman. Having been a battered child, alarm bells went off as soon as I met him. I put my fears aside and tried to make it work. I needed language to become a doctor at that time, and I had difficulty with languages. He proposed hypnosis to help me relax with my Spanish classes.
On my third visit, the alarm bells were going off so loudly I couldn’t ignore them. It’s called hypervigilance. His voice was shaky, and his body movements were jerky. He was excited. I resisted the hypnosis, but fight or flight didn’t work for me. For a battered child, there is another option—freeze. He started the process, but I didn’t go under. He put me in a child’s chair and told me I would want a piece of licorice. I opened my eyes, and his penis was close to my face. I pulled away and froze even more. I did not leave the room until he gave me permission to do so.
I immediately went to the agency that had referred me to him and reported what had happened. Mandatory reporting was a year away. It was 1969. Nobody reported my allegations. Dr. Friedman had the nerve to call my home, talk to my parents and try to convince me to go back to him. I spoke to him on the phone. I became nauseous and hung up.
I lived in fear for months. I was afraid he would try to eliminate me. Little did I know, his status in the community gave him virtual immunity for his actions. I was just a kid.
My husband had died December 26, 1980. I was devastated. My children were not adjusting, and I just expected everything to get better. It didn’t. I was put in Salem Hospital’s mental health Unit in 1981. When I woke up in my bed, I saw a sign over my bed in big black letters that said, “FREEDMAN.” I was terrified. I jumped out of bed, backed out of the room, and went to sit with a woman who sat behind a desk. She had been a neighbor of mine some years before. I asked her several times if that was the doctor who had been with North Shore Guidance. I believed I was locked up under control of one of my worst nightmares.
The next day I met George Freedman. He was my doctor. He questioned me about my fears. I told him what had happened. He asked me the doctor’s first name. I told him I didn’t remember and he threw out a few names including Tobias. I told him it was Tobias. Between Salem Hospital and a social worker at NSCH, my allegations were never recorded in my records. My guess is they had simply stopped documenting allegations. I think they were protecting all the professionals that had broken laws regarding reporting. The social worker gave me basic information about the Board of Registration of Medicine in Massachusetts and I filed charges within weeks of my discharge from the hospital. Ironically, while I was telling Dr. George Freedman about my allegations of sexual assault, he was giving me a breast exam. Maybe this was common practice at the time. It was years before I questioned myself as to whether or not psychiatrists should be giving breast exams. It wasn’t until 1987 that a doctor came forward who knew other victims and helped with my claims at the BOM. Tobias Friedman disciplinarily resigned his license to practice medicine in 1989.
On page 2 of his report, Dr. Freedman notes that I admitted that I had been impulsive. At that time, I had no idea what being impulsive meant. It was only after years of schooling in psychology that I understood I had not been impulsive. I had flashed on driving my car into a tree for weeks. My actions were in the form of self-punishment, which I believed I deserved as a result of my brutal childhood. My oldest son was not well. I believed I could not help him and he’d be better off if I were dead. After this hospitalization, I started my journey towards my degree in psychology.
My request is that you note the fact that I reported details of the sexual assault I suffered by Dr. Tobias Friedman. I would also request that you note my view of the impulsivity claim.
We must end the carnage of what are our basic human rights.
I have long since recovered from my husband’s death, but not my Trauma. That could be with me for the remainder of my life.
Copyright 2017 Joyce Bowen
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