Exploitation

abuse-emotionalA life circumstance can arise where we find ourselves vulnerable and dependent on someone else to help us, to guide us, to be strong for us in our weakness. In these circumstances, society tells us to place our trust in various professionals to assist us. We turn to a counselor, therapist, or minister to help us through a problem or crisis. We seek help from a doctor or nurse about a serious medical condition. If we are a victim of a crime or find ourselves thrust into a legal situation we don’t know how to deal with, we trust and need law enforcement officers and lawyers to help us. Sometimes by choice, sometimes out of desperation, we trust these professionals, and allow ourselves to be vulnerable. We believe the professional will act in our best interest. Depending on the degree of our vulnerability or dependence and our need or gratitude for their help, it is entirely possible for professionals to take advantage of us. We might even think “it could never happen to me!” The sad truth is, it can, and does happen. And it can take place without us even being fully aware of what’s happening.

Mental health professionals, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, therapists, doctors, nurses, clergy, attorneys, professors, educators, social workers, law enforcement officers, or other professionals who either pursue or161055-165492even allow a sexual relationship to develop with their patients/clients often are taking advantage of an inherent power imbalance in the relationship. Sexual exploitation does not always include sexual contact — it can happen in a variety of behaviors by the professional. Frequently this is an exploitation of the client’s trust or emotional dependency and/or their need for the professional’s help. Sometimes it is the result of the professional imposing coercive power over the client. Either way, this is considered abuse, even if the client was a “consenting” participant at the time. It is an abuse of the client’s trust and dependence on the professional. It also is a betrayal of the trust imparted on the professional by society. This form of abuse often deeply violates clients and sometimes causes tremendous spiritual, emotional, and psychological harm.

Exploitation of clients is universally regarded as professionally unethical with both present and former clients, and for many of these professions, sexual exploitation is illegal in numerous states. Of course, most professionals are indeed ethical and would never exploit their clients, but this abuse does happen and can’t be ignored. If you have been sexually and/or emotionally exploited by a professional, you have found HOPE! AdvocateWeb HOPE is Helping Overcome Professional Exploitation through its online information resources.


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The Cost of Abuse

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He built a house and then destroyed it.
He healed a wounded animal and then mutilated it.
He cured a disease and reinfected with a worse one.
He raised a child and then killed it.
He created a fantasy in a bubble and popped it.
I am the house…
the animal…
the disease…
the child…
and the bubble…
The impact of this abuse, expressed by a victim.

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