For FGM Survivors

“Women suffering from FGM are just like great Eagles suffering in cages of traditions and patriarchal manipulations.

When they are set free, they soar up into the sky.”

– Dr Fariba Behnia-Willison

At FBW Gynaecology Plus, we have seen how the young women we have cared for become resilient and recover from FGM, living an everyday life – they are finally set free, and as some say, they are reborn.

Our team wish to acknowledge the courage that it has taken for these FGM survivors to visit this site and reassure them that we can assist and accompany them through their individual journey.

For some, it may be challenging to read the information we have provided on this website, as it may trigger painful memories, anger, tears, resentment, as well as fear for your future quality of life.

We encourage you to talk to our compassionate team who have cared for many young women recovering physically and mentally from the consequences of FGM or cutting.

At FBW Gynaecology Plus we have ensured our environment is safe and confidential to ensure you feel comfortable throughout your non-surgical or surgical healing journey.

Women contact us for different reasons, and no matter what the reason we are here to listen and help them.

Some women reach out to us because they are confused about what kind of cut they have, we can assess and inform you about the different types of cuts and how we can help.

You may feel nervous talking about your genital cutting which is normal. Dr Fariba Behnia-Willison, the Founder of Desert Flower South Australia, can help you to begin the conversation in a very personable and caring way. She can speak to you about your concerns and fears, validate them, and provide you with the information on how she can reduce and eliminate your pain and reverse the mutilation you have suffered.

“The minute that I woke up, the pain from my FGM scar was no longer present, and I experienced rebirth.”

– L, FGM Survivor

The FBW Gynaecology Plus team want to ensure you can have recovery across all areas of your life both physically and emotionally. To do this, we have engaged experts from PsychMed to join our team. PsychMed has a team of experts in trauma work to help you to process your trauma and have inner peace.

In addition to pain and discomfort, women have many different emotional responses to memories of FGM or cutting. This emotional distress is a normal reaction to the mutilation you have experienced. It can leave you feeling overwhelmed and trigger intense emotional responses. These, in turn, can affect different parts of your life.

Sometimes women describe the following non-physical symptoms that are all treatable:

  • Flashbacks or frequent nightmares of the mutilation
  • Feeling sensitive to noise or to being touched
  • Always expecting something terrible to happen
  • Not remembering periods of your life
  • Feeling numb, detached, or daydreaming
  • Lack of concentration, irritability, sleep difficulties
  • Excessive watchfulness
  • Feelings of anxiety, anger, sadness, guilt, shame, or depression
  • Increase risk of non-attendance to medical appointments due to social embarrassment

Sometimes women describe the following physical symptoms:

  • Painful periods
  • Painful intercourse
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Voiding dysfunction
  • Infertility
  • Genital trauma at the time of birth
  • Obstructive labor
  • Increase risk of caesarean section
  • Increase rick of post-partum haemorrhage
  • Low libido
  • Risk of fistulas, and many other conditions

For many women, the world can be a frightening place because of these symptoms, but we are here to listen and care for you accordingly.

At PsychMed, the team use specific therapies that are proven to be effective in helping people get better from these emotional symptoms. Their specific treatment is called Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) which allows patients to process the emotional scars of FGM/cutting. We can help to slowly examine and change the unhelpful thoughts and feelings related to your trauma, yourself, others, and the world. An essential part of treatment is addressing ways of thinking that might keep you stuck and get in the way of your recovery.

Through this therapy, we can help to reduce FGM survivor’s levels of distress, anxiety, anger, guilt, and shame, so they have a better quality of life.

Remember and believe you have the right to celebrate your progression into womanhood without the mental and physical scars of FGM.

How to access medical help

For FGM victims who would like to have a discussion with a medical specialist about their FGM and the minimally invasive procedure reversal options, or have medical concerns as an indirect result of your FGM, for example, pelvic pain, pain during intercourse, urinary problems, prolapse, period pain, abnormal bleeding, ovarian cysts, fibroids, etc, a referral from a GP is needed. Please call FBW Gynaecology Plus and their friendly staff will organise a consultation with Dr Fariba Behnia-Willison (Founder of Desert Flower South Australia).

FBW Gynaecology Plus can be contacted on 08 8297 2822.

How to access social and educational support

Speaking about your experience with other people who have similar experiences can be extremely cathartic and reassuring.

We would love to put you in touch with fellow FGM Survivors so you can support each other and lift each other up in a world that sometimes feels like it is falling apart.

Please call FBW Gynaecology Plus on 08 8297 2822 for us to organise a meeting with our ambassadors.

Where to find psychological assistance

Psychological help is readily available for FGM Survivors, and we encourage you to reach out and talk about your experience with trained professionals in a supportive, caring, and confidential environment.

Psychiatrists and Psychologists from PsychMed are available to speak to. Please call them on 08 8232 2424 to arrange an appointment.