Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up
Gropedown, Strip Scanner anxiety... afraid to fly now :(
avatar
Fit424again posted:
Back again. I've been doing very well for quite some time actually. My life long depression is still under control to the point that I don't need any medication thanks to therapy breakthroughs. Everything is far from perfect, but I have the strength and focus to work on it...

Right now something completely out of my control is REALLY causing me a LOT of concern and is causing friction in my relationship BIG TIME

I NEED to fly in the near future. One place I need to fly out of and into doesn't have the strip scanners or excessive groping going on as of the last time I flew earlier this month. Apparently they will have them by the next time I have to go back. A place I need to go now DOES have these in place.

I have NO desire to be stripped naked and radiated by a machine just so I can go where I need to go. The alternative is to be groped. I am about to have a full blown anxiety attack just thinking about the last option. My partner does NOT understand and is very upset that I don't want to be put through this assault. I have enough problems having to 'zone out' during a Dr. exam from someone I know, trust, and like and who talks me through the whole process...

What am I supposed to do? Fly and be assaulted again? Not fly with my partner and cause friction in my relationship? I need to be part of the process we need to fly to get to. How did this happen? I feel like someone is telling me 'I'm scared of the possibility of getting hurt so I'm going to make sure you are hurt' I'd much rather be blown up or shot than be assaulted again... This anxiety is about to get to me Help?

Take the Poll

How is anyone that has been assaulted and/or abused supposed to deal with being strip scanned and/or groped?
  • Give up flying and/or whatever else they do it to next
  • Extra Therapy and/or Medication
  • File lawsuits
  • Give up and get scanned and groped until it's unbearable
  • No good answer
vote
View Poll Results
Reply
 
avatar
Caprice_WebMD_Staff responded:
Hi Fit,

It's good to see you again and to hear how you've been doing.

I'm sorry the new security measures are so triggering for you (and, I'm sure, to others) and hope you can find a solution which is bearable to you. ((((hugs))))
 
avatar
sbncmo responded:
Hi Fit. How did things go for your flight? Were you able to get on the plane ok?

I've never flown. Never wanted to before & certainly don't now. My view toward the body scanner may be different than others.

As I understand it, & from what I have seen in news reports, the body scanner is simply an x-ray; it doesn't put a picture of your naked body on the monitor for people to see. It takes an x-ray like any regular x-ray. It does not seem invasive to me any more than an x-ray of the back or any part of the body. IF I were ever able to handle flying, the body scanner would be the only way I could be checked.

Now the body pat down is a TOTALLY different thing. If anyone - man or woman - were to touch my body in the way that is required for airport searches, I would come totally unglued! I simply could not handle such a thing.

I understand completely your feelings about your doctor examining you. Years ago when I had to have regular vaginal exams, I took a book or magazine with me to read & kept it between me & my doctor during the exam. My doctor said he'd never seen anyone do that before. I thought very highly of my doctor, but I couldn't face him during that procedure. I had to have some way to "zone out" as you do. I had a total hysterectomy 11 years ago. I had an exam by my female doctor once after that. Maybe I should be checked regularly, but since nothing is left, I see no need to put myself into such an uncomfortable position. However my doctor did send me to a gyn last year for an exam to see if my bladder had dropped. I wasn't expecting an internal exam. He started & talk about pain!!!! I was laying there, tears pouring down my face, begging him to stop, saying over & over that he was hurting me, but he wouldn't stop. The nurse was standing by my head wiping my tears away & patting my shoulder, trying to comfort me. (It turns out I'm all atrophied inside.) No matter what, I will never go thru that exam again.

Sorry, that got away from your reason for this post. I just wanted you to know I understand your feelings about doctor exams. But getting back to airport security - I'm with you on not letting anyone grope me for security's sake. That is truly an invasion, an assault upon us. People like us don't need that.

Can you learn more about the scanners? I know that last month, when you posted this, there were some people really making a big deal about the scanners, saying they would show the body in a naked state, but I didn't see that to be the case. I may be wrong. I may have missed something, but as I already said, what I saw was a simple x-ray, no nudity. While it may reveal more than a pat-down by revealing inside the body, I still feel it is less of an assault upon us. At least our bodies are not being touched.

As for your partner, I don't think he is much of a partner when he is so insensitive to the trauma that you are going thru. Has he been this insensitive during your whole relationship? I'm sorry if this sounds rude, but if he is that insensitive, he's a jerk. When my husband propsed to me, I accepted, but I knew I had to tell him of all the assaults & abuses I'd been thru. We sat down & for maybe 10 minutes, I just cried & couldn't say a word. I was sure he would look at me as "used goods" & would end the engagement. When I was able to talk & told him, he was so angry at all those who had hurt me & swore if anyone ever laid a hand on me again, he would kill them. After 28 yrs, he still feels the same. He is so very sensitive about what I've endured. In our marriage, if he ever said or did anything that triggered a bad memory, he put his desires to the side & cared for me, helping me to get past it again, even if it was very temporary. If your partner doesn't have that respect for you, then he isn't much of a partner. A partner helps you, not add guilt & pressure in any situation, especially a difficult one like you faced. I apologize if I sound harsh, but you don't need that treatment.

I'd like to hear how you are.
 
avatar
Fit424again replied to sbncmo's response:
Thank you for the replies. I have decided not to fly and just stay home.

On the scanners, there are two kinds, and both do show far more detail than a traditional xray. One shows very clear outlines, the other shows much less detail. On one hand it is the detail, on the other it is simply someone looking through my clothes at my body that I have no desire to do so. It is sufficient invasion of my privacy to make it a triggering event. Just thinking about it makes my skin crawl and my muscles tense...

My partner and my relationship have certainly been deeply impacted by the assault I suffered. Things are finally getting a little better, slowly. I'm not sure it isn't too little too late, but on the other hand I don't want to let the person who took so much from me take my relationship away too...

I am posting something else here and on the depression board because I am not doing very well right now.

Thanks again for the support and insights, it is much appreciated.
 
avatar
sbncmo replied to Fit424again's response:
Hi Fit. I completely understand your need to stay away from flying. I'm glad you explained about the scanners. I do not watch the news, so what I saw was just a glimpse as I was walking thru the room, which is why I didn't see how much the scanners show. It could be too, that the news "doctored" the image that was aired. I have no desire for some stranger to look at my naked body either. And I totally understand how the very thought of it triggers such bad memories.

I haven't read about your bad experience & I don't know if you have read about mine. I'm kind of torn between wanting to help others yet knowing that if I read other's experiences I will have difficulties dealing with theirs & mine. Maybe you are the same way. IF you read my post you will understand what I mean by that. Any news event sets me off. I know we need to encourage each other, but I fear reading about how bad things have been for others. If you feel you can read my post without it adversely affecting you, please do. Although I guess that is a pretty stupid statement - anyone reading it would be adversely affected. You use your own discretion about reading my post or anyone's. I've been in counseling for 15 years & yet most of the time I feel I've made no progress. Several have told me I'm a strong person to have endured what I have & still be alive today. I don't feel strong. If I'm so strong, then why do I still suffer from it so much?

I understand your depression too. Sexual assault & abuse leaves us with depression and trauma for the rest of our lives. But I also have bipolar, so it seems to be intensified. My mom said I showed signs of bipolar as a preschooler, well before all the horrors were inflicted upon me. A nice double or triple dose. And right now, I too am extremely depressed & feel like I can't go on.

I'm glad things are getting better in your relationship. Just a guess, but you two haven't been together for very long, have you? If he is willing to keep working with you & really encourage you, then keep with him. I think it is almost as hard on our mates as it is for us. Men are raised to not show emotion, not show their pain. They see our pain, feel our pain, & want to help, but don't know how, don't know what to say. I hope he stays with you for the long run & is patient & understanding with you.

Please take care. I don't visit the depression discussions since I go to the bipolar discussions, but any time you need to talk on this board, I'll be here.
 
avatar
awesomelexie responded:
You are not alone. There are a lot of people who feel the same way.

I flew 4 times in a few weeks recently, and was patted down twice. Both times the ladies were extremely professional and I was almost surprised not to be triggered. I kept expecting it to bother me and it didn't happen.

One thing you can do is the thing I just found out about with the acupressure - I just posted it above. For me that works best. Who knows, by the time you have to fly, it may not even be an issue at all!

Other things are practicing breathing for 15 minutes a day until you have to go there. Practice grounding techniques - list all the ways this is different than what happened to you; list all the control you have now. Practice self soothing imagery. Practice several times a day until you go - so that when you need it in a high-stress situation, it is easier to use.
 
avatar
lovelylemontree310 replied to awesomelexie's response:
I just flew two days ago, after flying three weeks before. Both times, I was carrying Savannah, my service kitty, in my arms, across my chest. I did go through the full body scanner, but since I had my arms across my chest AND a cat in the way (she likes to be held up high, around my collarbone), I don't think they ever saw anything. And the TSA agents, all four times, were women (I had to change terminals and airlines in Boston, both ways).

I know I was the exception to the rule. I had planned ahead and told myself what I was going to do -- pull the woman's sleeve, hiss in her ear "I was sadistically sexually abused. If you're going to pat me down and/or feel me up, be aware that you may trigger a rapid mental breakdown. Do what you must, but you are responsible for me at this time."

I've begun to think that me -- this new and different "me" -- is a little too outspoken, a little too liberal, and a little too idealistic. But she will be heard -- and she will speak words that others may not be able to say. So I say it. They may not like it, but ... this is me. This is me now. The soft, quiet, gentle me may still exist, but she's supplemented by someone who will say what needs to be said.
 
avatar
sbncmo replied to lovelylemontree310's response:
Hi lemontree,

I applaud you for your ability to make your stand before being touched or patted down. TSA agents need to be aware of the problems they can cause us. My therapist has been working with me for years to be stronger - a new me - as you say, to not be the scared & hurt little girl I once was, to be the adult I am now, to be strong. I prepare conversations in my mind in the event of being put in a bad situation & hope that I can stand up & not crumple. I don't see anything wrong with your outspokenness. You are strong, maybe stronger than many of us.

Fit424 may never be able to fly again. I may never fly even once. Obviously we are all strong or we wouldn't still be alive today, but we still have our own reactions to events & triggers. But I am happy for you lemontree, happy that you have found your voice. Keep speaking out - for all of us.
 
avatar
lovelylemontree310 replied to sbncmo's response:
Thanks, hun. That actually makes me feel quite a bit better. I am still self-concious about my newfound tendency to blurt out things very bluntly, but I do know that it's something that was born of my experiences of doing just the opposite -- keeping my mouth closed when I should have said something.

I also prepare conversations and situations in my head before actually going into them. Positive or negative, that's what happens.

And everyone softens a bit when you're carrying a cute little animal.


Spotlight: Member Stories

Hi, all. I've been kicking around this site for years in all its various forms. Change is not easy, but survivable. I'm working on my MSW (M...More

Helpful Tips

my story - in part anyway
I had always been asked if I had been molested and always answered no. Then, after a hysterectomy at 36, I was once again asked, only this ... More
Was this Helpful?
9 of 12 found this helpful

Report Problems to the
Food and Drug Administration

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.