This is a great question, and you are not alone. Sexual abuse and previous trauma can be triggering, but your gynecologist can do many things to help prevent this from happening. First and foremost, let your gynecologist know you are concerned. Bring up your concerns and questions, so that your gynecologist can examine you in a way that makes you most comfortable. Your provider can first start with educating you on the steps of the exam and show the tools that may be used for the exam.
Your provider can also do several things that may make you more comfortable, like playing music, providing you a hand to hold, or talking you through the steps of an exam. Sometimes, depending on what needs to be done, a provider can do a pelvic exam or evaluation even under some anti-anxiety medication or sedation.
Ultimately, you are in control and you can tell your gynecologist to stop whenever you feel uncomfortable. Your gynecologist will work with you to make sure you have the best experience possible.