Furious about therapist
I was sexually harassed at work almost a year ago. I used to speak to the guy and he started acting like we had a romance going or something. I told him that I was not interested in him romantically, and he said that I was just "sulking". No matter what I said, he assumed that I really was in love with him but was "just annoyed" about a particular thing he said or did, or just playing a coy game. It became a nightmare, with him leering at me and chuckling over things I said in public as if they were meant for him alone. Finally one day he brushed up against me in a confined space at work where my job required me to sit glued in a chair. I asked him, clearly, to move back about two feet. He yelled at me saying, "You've got a problem and are behaving unprofessionally and I'm going to complain about you." He stormed out, while I had to stay put, and he complained preemptively.
My boss is a sexist redneck. So is his boss. To make a long story short, they told me to "be professional," completely dismissing the fact that this man had been stalking me and had brushed up against me and refused to move when I told him to. My supervisor and his supervisor turned very threatening and they and the guy often laughed at me together when I walked by. I am a temporary (3 year) foreign worker, which effectively strips me of my right to sue. This and the stress of months of racial and sexual discrimination made me give up even trying to get retribution. I decided instead to stay put and not let them see me down, which is what they would have dearly loved. Also, I could not find a job that would pay me as much money or where I'd learn anything new. I did not want to be pushed down the food chain because of a bunch of macho jerks. After a while, the harasser started to be worn down by his own exertions and my invincible calm front. I loathed him and enjoyed seeing him all screwed up. Well, finally, I got out of that department - my nerves were shot - and got a MUCH better job in another department. The harasser, to my great satisfaction, quit in frustration because he had applied for the same job.
I decided to try EEG to help me relax and start writing again (my 2nd, dearly loved, fully embraced job - unpaid so far) as I was unable to even meditate after this incident. Well, the EEG guy was also a therapist. He is male and wanted "background" before administering the treatment. I told him the deal. He basically suggested that the whole thing had happened because I hadn't made it clear enough to the harasser that I wasn't interested. To me this was a variation of "she asked for it" and I told him so. At which point he said that this was just an "angry" and "emotional" response from me, that he was telling me this "for my own good". I was feeling pretty vulnerable at this point, defenses were down, really wanted the EEG so I could relax etc. Well, I had 5 sessions of background, in the course of which it was also suggested that my focus on my career, ambitions, creative and spiritual development, and my lack of concern with whether or not I ever got married was "unhealthy". I was told that I needed to "forget about writing" (something of almost religious importance to me) and cultivate relationships that could lead to marriage. I voiced my objections to these things when they came up and when he continued in the same tone regardless, I decided to hell with EEG, this is the last session. And it was. Except, having paid him up front, he refused to file the claim with my insurance for four months and every time I called he said something lame about his "bookkeeper" delaying things. He also constantly said things like "calm down" and "there's no need for hysteria" when I was appropriately concerned about 500 bucks going un-reimbursed. Well, finally, after threats of lawsuits, he filed everything and I got my money.
The problem is I am furious. Time has passed, I have somewhat recovered, and I am so very furious at how this sexist therapist took advantage of my defenses being down to propagate his Stone Age views. And how unethically he behaved about the insurance. And the fact that he suggested the harassment was somehow my fault. And that he refused to provide the treatment I went to him for - EEG. (He said it had helped "REAL artists with creative blocks" but didn't think I fit the type.) Is there ANYTHING I can do about this rage? I really want him to die a slow and painful death, but he is still alive so we know all about the efficacy of divine justice. What can I do apart from gritting my teeth? I get disabled with rage every time I attempt to write down an ethics complaint for the APA. Besides, I read somewhere that they're a bunch of predominantly male sexists too. I'm just afraid of this guy sitting in a plush room with some other balding white males and laughing over the crazy brown girl's "emotional" complaint. Yeah, I know I should try for my own peace of mind anyway, but can anyone give me hints of how the question of "proof" is dealt with in such cases where it's all his word against mine and he could easily lie? Are there resources that would help me craft a bomb of an ethics complaint? Any tips, sympathy and choruses of insults directed at the creep (and the harasser, while you're at it) will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading my long email.
I like your spirit and your quirky sense of humor, even in the midst of your rage.
I think what you're especially mad at is that you fell prey to a male chauvinistic co-worker, boss, AND therapist. In my practice I call recurrent patterns like that "shit magnets", which means it's often not coincidence or circumstantial that these things are showing up in your life, but rather some strange attraction on your part to recreate stifling and enraging situations. Why would a person do such a thing? Not easy to understand, unless you look at it as a way to make certain feelings already there somehow make sense. That's what I would pursue with you in therapy. It may on the other hand, have nothing to do with your predilections. Shit sometimes just happens. The best antidote for it is connecting with loving, supportive people. I am happy to remind you that there are also kind, conscious men in the world.
For now I recommend you contact the National Organization of Women, the Civil Liberties Union, and a local chapter of the Legal Aide Society to share your tale. I bet they can turn you on to some practical ways to channel your anger righteously.
This question was answered by Andy Bernay-Roman, RN, MS, LMHC, NCC, LMT. He is a nationally certified counselor in private psychotherapy practice in South Florida working with individuals, couples, and families with a deep-feeling therapy approach. Andy's medical background as an ICU nurse contributes to his success with clients with difficult medical diagnoses and/or chronic physical conditions. He also serves as head of the Psychological Support Department of West Palm Beach's Hippocrates Health Institute.For more information visit: http://www.deepfeeling.com/