Whoa, here’s a rant! I’m really glad to see people discussing the issue of sexual harassment and assault generally. The abuse of women by women in power-differential positions has been a particular issue for me, as it deeply impacted my life. This is why I’m still determined to help bring regulation of counselling therapists to BC. At present there’s no way a person whose life has been severely damaged by this form of betrayal, spiritual sodomy, and psychological assault can bring the abuser to accountability, if the ‘therapist’ is unregistered and/or the complainant lacks financial means. I was subjected to ridicule, disbelief, shaming, indifference, and outright hostility, when I sought help; many professionals implied I’d simply been stupid, or naive about being ‘hit on’ by ‘a lesbian’. Their humiliating, spirit-destroying, creativity-crushing, personality-altering reactions left me cynical and bitter for years. My experiences were all the more destructive because I’d originally sought help through therapy in rebuilding my life after leaving a violent husband. To add to this, because I’d sought help in the mental health fields, I was further discounted by being labelled a person with ‘mental health issues’ (of PTSD following abuse). The unsupervised, incompetent, unregistered ‘therapist’ who almost destroyed my life had never felt the need to examine their own drives and motives, so had a ‘clean record’. I believe that gender in sexual assault and harassment situations is less relevant than the power imbalances themselves, and the potential abuse that such unequal relationships invite. I see a need to fully safe-guard issues of accountability and respect, whether it’s speaking respectfully to a person with less political power who’s trying to express opposing viewpoints in a town hall meeting, to listening seriously to a child who’s distraught about being bullied, to comforting and defending a person who’s been raped, whatever their gender. Attempts to categorize, divide, and isolate abuses by various factors doesn’t seem as helpful compared to confronting core elements of all power-imbalance abuses. An iron-clad, law-enforced, school-taught respect for all living beings, adopted as the bottom line, would help ensure that we no longer re-victimize victims who miraculously find the courage to speak out. End of rant. Whew. Sorry about that–yet not.
Over the years, I’ve written about this issue, for four reasons.