I was forced to have yearly pap smears from 18-23. Being so young I wasn’t aware that the test was elective and that I had a right to refuse. My attempts to revoke consent were unsuccessful and I was told that it wasn’t optional and that I needed to cooperate. I’m still ashamed that I didn’t get dressed and walk out of the office but I can’t describe my level of fear. I felt as if I was trying to get away with doing something illegal by resisting.
I was born with a condition and that I need daily medication for. These paps were taken opportunistically when I would go to the GP to get the medication I needed.
I’m now 32 and all this time later I still feel hollow and unwell within myself. It feels like I’m carrying around a body that I have no ownership of and yet, it is a daily liability to my psychology. By forcing me into exams I didn’t consent to they took me away from myself and inserted themselves as the new owners. Those years of coercion have also destroyed my sexuality and made me asexual, viewing my body as only an object.
If it wasn’t for my medical condition I would stop going to the GP. Women who have chronic conditions are especially at risk of opportunistic and coercive pap smears.
For more information about coercive pap smears, visit For Women’s Eyes Only, a fantastic resource for women dealing with trauma after smear tests without consent.