According to RAINN, “Sexual Exploitation by Helping Professionals” is defined as sexual contact of any kind between a helping professional such as a doctor, therapist, teacher, priest, professor, police officer or lawyer and a client or patient.
A big problem with this sexual exploitation is that these professionals have a large amount of control over these victims who go to them as clients or patients. They give informed consent for treatment but not for sexual violations. Most of these violations occur between male providers and female patients or clients. This behavior is unethical but very difficult to prove. However, if substantiated, these behaviors can be grounds for malpractice and loss of their professional license.
There are three major types of sexual involvement of this kind:
1. Sexual activity during professional treatment or service.
2. Sexual activity with the implication that it has therapeutic benefits.
3. A sexually exploitative relationship.
This sexual exploitation is not acceptable behavior and involves the professional using a position of great power over a person who needed their help. These professionals have a professional obligation to maintain these boundaries and the clients or patients have an expectation of respect and the maintenance of these professional boundaries. These professionals have the responsibility to protect these clients or patients, not to serve their own needs, as these people have put their trust in these professionals and that trust was betrayed. It has devastating effects on its victims.
Many clients in therapy are very susceptible for sexual exploitation because they are very vulnerable and trust the professional to help them. These sessions can be very personal with the clients innermost thoughts and feelings discussed.
There is a very low report rate of this type of exploitation because of fear that they will not be believed and anticipated pain with pursing any case against the perpetrator. It often takes years for the victim to realize that they have been harmed
If any victim suspects that they have been violated, they should notify the licensing board of that profession or file criminal charges or consider civil lawsuit with their own personal attorney.