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History of sexual abuse how to disclose fears

  • Thread starter Nervouspatient1
  • Start date


Junior member
Feb 5, 2022
London UK
Some time ago I changed to a new dental practice the dentist and hygienist are the best I’ve ever been to gentle and kind. Unfortunately I’ve been experiencing high anxiety recently and my dental anxiety which I can usually manage has resurfaced. My new dentist has no knowledge of my history of repeated sexual abuse/oral rape as a child and I’m just not able to tell them (I did disclose to my old dentist but it wasn’t put on my notes and was absolutely years ago) I think most dentists assume that anxiety is due to the treatment which in my case is minimal, I find laying down and things being put in my mouth terrifying as I feel powerless, overwhelmed and claustrophobic. I know I should let them know my fears and each time I go I plan too but once I get in the surgery I can’t say anything and develop nervous chat about anything trivial but avoiding the issues in case they ask more. if I tell them before by email I think I’d never go back out of embarrassment and my worries about what they may think. I’m terrified of losing this dentist as they are all so lovely but I’m getting more stressed each time and have almost had a panic attack, nearly fainted and wanted to cry at appointments if this carries on I know I will and think they might get fed up with me and ask me to leave. So I guess my question is have you disclosed your fear history if so how much and did it help your fear by them knowing? How did you disclose and what do you do to help the fears that are not treatment related?
@Nervouspatient1, I'm sorry to hear how your history is affecting you so acutely just now, that sounds very difficult. Sexual abuse affects us all in such varied and longlasting ways. Please know that disclosing to your dentist can be beneficial in reducing your anxiety due to them being able to understand your fears and triggers and act accordingly to put you at ease. Please also don't feel embarrassed about any disclosure you make. You are strong and determined and taking care of your health despite the way in which your history makes this hard for you.
If you are aware of anything the dentist and their nurse can do to make things easier for you and are comfortable sharing with them then this will hopefully make your experience more comfortable too.
On a more practical note, do you have any coping strategies to help you deal with your feelings of anxiety and panic in the moment? I find my favourite breathing techniques very helpful or using self hypnosis and spending a moment in my safe place can be enough to recentre and ground me and get me through situations that I find difficult.
Hopefully also others in this community can share a little of their experiences to help you feel comfortable in sharing what you feel you need to with your dentist.
Take care
Nervouspatient1 ,

First off , I'm very sorry you had to endure the abuse you did, I say that also as a survivor . And it is a very real thing to have huge triggers and different triggers and reactions coming from this background. I do agree its relieving to let the dental team now if you feel safe with them which it sounds you do, doesn't make it any easier, disclosure is very hard , as we never know how one will react. It seems as though your team has been very good with you. Maybe if you start by telling them how comfortable you do feel and this is hard for you, they may be more compassionte. Also @letsconnect @Enarete Isn't there a form to print off for victims of child sexual abuse they can give to dentists. I remember seeing something along these lines and thought that would be really nice to have. So one wouldn't need to verbally say it.

I have heard if it is unbearable and too much anxiety sedation seems to work for some . but not for others like myself I want to feel alert and in control and easy access to escape if need be. The more power your dentist gives you too like signs to put chair up, stop signals etc, along with knowing, everything matters. This is hugely courgeous and I give you all the credit for coming as far as you have already! :grouphug:
Also @letsconnect @Enarete Isn't there a form to print off for victims of child sexual abuse they can give to dentists. I remember seeing something along these lines and thought that would be really nice to have. So one wouldn't need to verbally say it.

Yes, we do have a form on here which was created by VictimFocus and which they kindly let us use here. The original purpose was for dental practices to offer it to their patients, but I suspect that most have never come across it (I at least partially blame Google)! But there's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't print out the form yourself and hand it to your dental team.

The form might strike a good balance if you're feeling too embarrassed to email them, and too nervous to bring it up verbally in person.

Just in case you haven't come across it, there's also a page for survivors of abuse on our website which has links to relevant articles at the bottom (e.g. "How much should I tell my dentist"):


Unfortunately (fortunately?), I can't chime in with a personal experience, but @Jodie Nelson and @krlovesherkids777 have made some great suggestions 🙂 !
@Jodie Nelson @krlovesherkids777 @letsconnect
Just wanted to say thank you for your replies. I think they reinforced that telling the dentist is a good idea. I actually made the decision to disclose my mental health condition on the medical history form without the cause, I’ve no idea if they saw but it made me feel more confident that if I lose it in the surgery, they will know a bit more as to why as they do seem to check the screens a lot! It also made me feel more confident that they will support me rather than be angry or horrified. They are generally just lovely people and do everything to make you feel at ease
Using the medical history form for letting them know sounds like a great idea! I'm sure your dental team will take good care of you, they sound like truly wonderful people 😇. Thanks so much for the update and for sharing your idea (which I'm sure will come in handy for others in a similar situation).
@Nervouspatient1 I'm glad to hear you felt comfortable enough to disclose this to your dentist. This will help them to support you should anything trigger you. That you feel more confident now is fantastic and it's great that you feel they are a lovely team. Hope this all continues to make check ups and treatment a better experience for you.
All the best. J

That sounds great that you disclosed and they seem to be caring ,kind people. Also so proud of you taking that step of courage to do this, I believe you will be met and hope to have a healing experience not only physically but in trusting of dentists.. its not easy after trauma but you are really doing great! :grouphug: