After receiving repeated explicit and detailed threats of sexual violence in the workplace on a daily basis for weeks from a patient who is a convicted sex offender, I discussed these with my line manager who stated “well what do we expect when we bring a beautiful woman on the ward” and laughed. He didn’t discuss it beyond this. I was the only woman in the team at the time and had not been in the service long so did not feel comfortable to report my line manager to more senior managers. I expressed to my team that I did not feel safe on the ward but the patient was not moved wards and I continued to have to go onto the ward he was on every day. When he started being allowed periods of leave off the ward, I stayed late at work to ensure that I didn’t have to walk from the building to my car at a time when he might be allowed to be out, particularly as he had made a point of telling me several times that he knew which car was mine. I felt I had to take these steps to manage the risk myself as I did not feel that anyone else was taking the risk to me seriously. I consulted the advice of a male psychologist colleague who specializes in working with sex offenders. He told me that “there’s nothing you can really do other than eat 10 donoughts a night”. A member of nursing staff told me that it is my fault because I have not lied to the patient and pretended that I’m married. I explained that my relationship status is irrelevant and being single does not justify sexual harassment and sexual aggression but they continued to say things like this, including in front of the patient. The patient stated to the whole team in a ward round that he is going to spank me and nobody challenged him at all. As part of my role, I had to sit in meetings where others or myself had to read out reports regarding the patients progress/mental state/behaviour, which frequently included quotes the patient had made where he described my breasts and bottom in detail, or described masturbating whilst thinking of me. It was extremely humiliating to have to sit in a professional meeting in a room full of people, in a role I have worked hard to be taken seriously in, and to have extremely personal descriptions about myself read out to everyone. Nobody asked if I was ok or offered to censor the material. This went on for months and only ended because I left the service. This is not unique to that service, but is a problem pervasive in forensic mental health services.
As one of the only females in the service (and the only female in a senior position) I was repeatedly told by male members of staff that “we shouldn’t have girls working here”. When the team manager announced that he has recruited someone to the vacant post we had, a male member of staff said “please tell me it’s a man?”. The manager laughed and said “beggars can’t be choosers!” and apologised for appointing a woman (who is extremely experienced and is actually over qualified for the post).
While in hospital with daughter who I care for 24/7 asked by male pediatrician to get my husband ( who was at his work place) to sign a consent form for my daughter to have a procedure.