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Nurse Assault: My Story

Activism Article   (2,690 Views | 19 Replies | 802 Words)

Shawna Kratochwill is a BSN, RN and specializes in RN and Medical Writer.

1 Article; 296 Profile Views; 2 Posts

What Protective Changes are Needed for Nurses Who Are Sexually Assaulted?

I was sexually assaulted by a patient. This is my story.

Nurse Assault: My Story

[Graphic Content/Trigger Warning]

Background Info

I was working a 12-hour night shift, independently staffing the 3-bed Special Care Unit in a Critical Access Hospital. The patient had been admitted a few days earlier with chest pain and subsequently treated for alcohol withdrawal. This was my third shift caring for him. On the previous shifts, he made me uncomfortable but I dismissed it as part of his symptoms, as nurses do. He said things like “my beautiful nurse” and “you just want to touch my chest.” Each time I told him it was inappropriate and he needed to treat me professionally and he apologized. This night he was no longer in active withdrawal and had not received benzodiazepines in over 24 hours. We had an uneventful evening without inappropriate comments and he went to bed. 

Night Shift - Easter 2018

His tele signal kept getting lost. I had to go in and check his leads - again. He was asleep, so I tried to complete the task without waking him. It almost worked, but then his eyes popped open and a smile crossed his face. “I just need to check your leads,” I said. “You just want to keep touching me,” he replied. “No I do not want to touch you, I just need to fix your lead.” Alarms are going off in my mind: his red lead is off so I have to reach his under his hospital gown to fix it. 

I try to do it fast. I reach in while trying to keep my body as far from his as possible. His left hand goes up. “I just want to squeeze your tits. I know you want me to.” His hand is brushing against my left breast. I’m wiggling to avoid his hand as I struggle to fix the lead. He’s saying stuff, but I don’t know what. 

I think of escaping the room and realize I’m on the far side of the bed. He’s between me and the door. I have to get out of there, now. I decided to give up on the lead. 

I stand up and back away, “Don’t touch me! That is not okay!” He sits up in the bed and reaches for me. I quickly walk around the bed, out of the room, and around my desk at the nurses station. I have a view directly into the room and see his legs swing over the side of the bed. I sit down and avoid making eye contact while deciding what to do with what just happened. The monitor is alarming. 

He sits up at the side of his bed, pulls his pants down, looks up at me and begins masturbating. 

I can’t believe this is happening. I get up and leave my station. I go around the corner to find someone to help me. It’s the middle of the night so there aren’t many people around. A CNA sees me from down the hall and comes over. I give her a very quick version of what happened. “Stay out here, I’ll go get the CC.” 

Soon there were a handful of people with me in the nurses station. Looking in his room he appears to be sleeping having laid back down and covered up. The CC (house supervisor) and a unit manager are there. We do some rehashing, call my husband, and decide to call the police. 

An officer comes up, interviews me, then goes in to interview him. He tells the officer he didn’t know what he was doing because of the drugs we gave him. The officer said he would be back in the morning and gave me his card. 

The CC sent me home. I went home, crawled into bed with my husband, and cried myself to sleep. 

In the end, he suffered no consequences for his actions. He was not prosecuted for assault because, “it didn’t happen in a public place,” according to the DA’s office. 

The effects on me were, and are, many. In the following months, I had a slow emotional breakdown. I failed ACLS so was not able staff in my unit. I ended up leaving that position and facility. I started looking for options away from the bedside and considered quitting nursing. 

Today

It’s been almost 2 years. Time and space have helped, as they usually do. Today I am frustrated that we have no protection. I am angry about the lack of consequences for those who harm us. I am motivated to make change. I am still a nurse. I didn't let him take that from me. 

Shawna Kratochwill, BSN, RN is a freelance healthcare writer and CEO of Heart Beat Healthcare Content LLC. She writes about hearts & lungs, #NurseLife, Rural Healthcare, and Roller Derby. Shawna loves big words, scientific evidence, and playing roller derby as Code Bruise. She practices rural nursing, giving her a broad range of topics to explore.

1 Article; 296 Profile Views; 2 Posts

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119 Posts; 840 Profile Views

That is awful. That DA is an *** and a ***********. 

Edited by AN Admin Team
TOS re: language

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35 Posts; 1,182 Profile Views

It is horrifying to hear of these stories.  Unfortunately we cannot go around with video cameras like police do.   So sorry you went through that!  

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J.Adderton has 27 years experience as a BSN, MSN.

7 Followers; 112 Articles; 374 Posts; 32,632 Profile Views

Thank you for sharing your story. I have no doubt there are other nurses who have similar stories and can relate to yours.

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KCMnurse has 36 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in Educator.

1 Article; 275 Posts; 7,703 Profile Views

I am sorry that you had to go through that trauma. Speaking up about things like this help to draw light on these situations which happen more often than we may think.

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76 Posts; 248 Profile Views

That's horrible to be treated that way and have to put up with it. 

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babyNP. has 12 years experience as a APRN and specializes in NICU.

2 Followers; 1,831 Posts; 27,983 Profile Views

I am so sorry this happened to you. To anyone reading this that may face something like it, always keep in mind that you should always report if you can. Even if there were no charges brought, there will now be a history in his file and the more women reporting will be more chances to have him be held accountable for his disgusting behavior. 

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juniper222 specializes in Pre Nursing.

184 Posts; 1,238 Profile Views

I think there should be cameras put in all areas,  but that are not linked to the internet or any wifi system. They should be connected to a high security server that will overwrite every 24 hours.  This could be used to protect both patients and workers from lawsuit or abuse.  I am aware of HIPAA, but I think they need to make some changes for the befit of all concerned. If those suggestions are followed, the chances of abuse of privacy are low. There could be signs that simply say that the area is monitored for security. All cameras should be completely hidden.

The way things are today people get lawsuits for things that did not happen, or patients were killed by staff, or this poor person who was attacked.

Edited by juniper222

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Serhilda is a ADN, RN and specializes in Cardiac telemetry.

235 Posts; 4,899 Profile Views

Our criminal "justice" system is so biased against women, it's pathetic. I'm sorry you went through that. Kudos to you for keeping your cool too.

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DolceVita has 9 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in IMCU.

1,554 Posts; 9,697 Profile Views

I’m so sorry you experienced this. It’s BS they won’t charge him. If it was a hotel and you worked there I bet they would.

 I’ve had similar experiences over the years.  It’s not ok.  The last time I shouted out “Mr xxx stop that and pull your underwear back up. I’m calling security.”

I think early on I diminished the behaviors but I just can’t anymore.  Enough is enough.

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DallasRN specializes in ICU/ER/Med-Surg/Case Management/Manageme.

145 Posts; 3,255 Profile Views

Another one that is so sorry you had to go through this with a true jerk. It did make me think of a thread I commented on a couple of days ago. A home health agency is trying to make nurses show patients and their families their drivers license.  And while this type of stuff is happening INSIDE the facility walls?!? 

I don't think Florence Nightingale meant for nurses to be treated like this.😥

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2 Posts; 20 Profile Views

Why isn't the hospital accountable for the moron's action? Why doesn't the hospital give a rule/law paper to patients to read and to sign; "obey this or bye bye to ussr"? I mean, we have even option to choose or not to choose web page cookies.

I am not from USA, but there are cameras in all patient rooms and they are being watched at nurse desk 7/24 in my city.

At least they could put placebo cameras to the rooms for safety of health workers.

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