It was clear that Suzanne Smith was unwilling to do anything to help me after I had been abused at Better Birth of Salt Lake. I went to my care contract copy to see what to do next and found the department of professional licensing information. I attempted to report Ester Werbach for sexually assaulting me during my labor at Better Birth of Salt Lake. I got a phone call from a supervisor at utah’s DOPL telling me that Ester Werbach wasn’t licensed, nor did she need to be to practise midwifery in Utah. My stomach turned. I had been lied to. It was clear now why suzanne smith wouldn’t tell me how to report suspicious behavior. The supervisor at DOPL told me I needed to call the police, and I did.
I was assigned Detective Bruce Huntington from the Special Victims Unit. He talked to me briefly on the phone about what had happened. It was extremely difficult for me to talk about. I told Detective Bruce Huntington I had been touched inappropriately and that Ester Werbach would not stop touching me when I begged her to stop. He then went and interviewed Suzanne Smith (the owner, who is legally liable for Ester’s behavior) about what is normal or not. Yep, you read that right. She was the ONLY person he interviewed about the appropriateness of Ester’s behavior, despite the fact that she owns the business that this happened at and that I had already complained to her about the behavior so she knew what to say. Detective Bruce Huntington interviewed them first and took her word as gospel. When he interviewed me he didn’t even ask how I was touched, but insisted that it was “incidental” and that ester was “just being thorough”. I told him that it was not incidental, what she did with her hands could not have been incidental. He just sighed and made excuses for what had happened instead of asking me what had happened. I complained to his sergeant but he never followed up with me after that. Detective Huntington was bored with me and didn’t care enough to actually investigate any of it. I felt so hurt and betrayed. They didn’t talk to my husband either, even though he saw everything.
I tried getting a hold of the Utah Midwives Association, but they don’t seem to exist anymore. They have an old webpage and a broken email address.
Next I thought about how a student was there when she wouldn’t stop the vaginal examination. I thought the midwives college of utah (MCU) would be interested in knowing the kind of misconduct their students are learning from ‘expert’ midwives at Better Birth. I was wrong again. I talked to the dean of clinical education and they said “I am sure that Suzanne is reviewing the culture there”. I had forwarded the emails I posted in part 3 of my ordeal to the dean, she has no reason to think that suzanne is doing ANYTHING about the problem, because according to Suzanne Smith there was no problem. The dean ignores my emails now. The president of the midwives college of utah responded to me and said she wants to talk in person. I don’t think I can bear being hurt again by having someone minimize or ignore the problem anymore, I can’t risk it. Should I have to risk it when she could just take some action and DO something about the problem I reported? I later found out suzanne smith used to teach at Midwives College of Utah and has many connections within the natural birthing community so no one cares enough to do anything at Midwives College of Utah. The culture and misconduct at Better Birth is going to spread throughout the community like a virus because Midwives College of Utah has done nothing to stop it. I informed the dean of clinicals in my last email that I was not the only person to complain about Better Birth of Utah, that websites like Yelp have plenty of people who have complained. I got no response.
I have no doubt that Ester will molest or hurt someone in the future (if she hasn’t already). The lack of accountability is astonishing to me, there is no where to turn when a midwife abuses you. I have thought about the consequences if they had hurt my child or myself with negligence, how it would be similarly impossible to find any recourse in such an event. The natural birth community is quick to criticize hospitals and doctors for their culture of self protection and dishonesty, but I’ve found the exact same thing in the natural birth community in Utah. It breaks my heart to think that I believed people when they said they think that birth should be about autonomy and choice and respect for women. When you have been disrespected the community isn’t there to help you, they are there to excuse what happened and refuse to take action against abuse. I can’t believe I was stupid enough to believe all the lies. I was really into it- I even took a doula course and considered maybe being a doula someday. Now I can’t consider it anymore. I have to deal with birth related things triggering PTSD flashbacks. I can’t help anyone with their birth because of what Ester decided to do to me. They took away a happy mother from my baby too, the pain and betrayal I feel in addition to PTSD symptoms made it difficult to find joy in anything, including my newborn baby.
For now the great search for an attorney is on, but it exhausts me. My PTSD gets a lot worse when I have to talk about this all the time so it goes pretty slowly. If anyone has any suggestions or resources to help me prevent this from happening to someone else please post comments or email me at skeptifemblog at gmail dot com.