Sexual Exploitation Victims/Survivors
If you have been sexually involved or in an emotionally inappropriate relationship with a professional who was originally helping you, then you may now be dealing with a complex set of issues and emotions. Mental health and medical professionals, counselors, social workers, clergy, and others who enter into a helping relationship with you have made a covenant to act in your best interest and not exploit or abuse you. This is true for others such as attorneys, educators, emergency/crisis counselors, victim service personnel, and law enforcement professionals as well. In a professional-client relationship, there is an inherent imbalance of power. Depending on the relationship you have (or had) with the professional, this imbalance of power, combined with the natural development of feelings of trust, intimacy, and emotional dependence, along with phenomena known by psychologists as “transference”, can place you in a very vulnerable position in relation to the professional. Professionals are required to maintain boundaries with you and to not exploit your vulnerability, dependence, and trust. When a professional does have a sexual or romantic relationship with you as his client or former client, it is considered to be professionally unethical and (for many professions) illegal behavior and the professional bears full responsibility for any harm that results. There is no such thing as “mutually consenting adults” in such a situation, since the exploitation of your emotional dependence is not ethically considered to be true “consent” (this viewpoint on “consent” is supported by laws in some states).
This web site has a lot of resources for you
AdvocateWeb provides no consulting or professional counseling or legal advice (note our disclaimer). We are strictly an information service. Through reading this information, we hope this helps you begin to sort out the issues you are dealing with and we hope it might help you along on your road to recovery.
Browse around this web site, read, learn, reflect. The information presented represents the thinking of many professionals, ethicists, theologians, counselors, legal experts, and fellow victim/survivors.
1. Is there a problem? Look over this list of questions by Estelle Disch, Ph.D. “Is There Something Wrong or Questionable in Your Treatment?”
2. Learn more about sexual exploitation. Read: Tell Me More…“When Professionals Have Sex with Their Clients/Patients/Students”
Information for Victims and Victim Advocates on Sexual Exploitation by Counselors and Therapists from the the Public Education Work Group of the Task Force on Sexual Exploitation by Counselors and Therapists.
4. After that, check out all of the: Information and Resources we have found for you.