I had a comment today from a reader asking if I had any suggestions or references for how to initiate legislation to make sexual exploitation and abuse by a therapist a criminal act. (While in some states it is illegal, that is not the case for every state in the U.S.) It’s an excellent question, and certainly not the first time I’ve heard it.
Unfortunately, I have no clue. So I’d like to put the question out to you, my readers. How would one go about this? What steps could one take toward criminalizing therapist abuse and exploitation and professional sexual misconduct?
I’d love to start using this blog in a more pro-active way and turn some attention to problem solving. I think this is a great place to start.
Got ideas? Bring ’em on!
Although the following information was originally published in the comments to the above post, I wanted to add it on since not everyone reads the comments. Thanks to reader Libby for providing this great information! ~Kristi
It is much easier to prosecute at the state level. That being said, it would be helpful to research how the states that have these laws have managed to pass them. Sometimes a grassroots campaign to get a state level senator or house member to introduce state legislation is the best way to go.
The first thing to do would be to form a coalition and garner support from key people at the state level, such as prosecutors, professional organizations, judges, victims and family members who have been affected, as well as experts on the issue.
Start a letter writing campaign with facts, expert opinions and victim impacts. Legislators may not read one letter, but they will take note of hundreds on the same issue. More and more often, social action groups have made excellent use of technology to get the message to many people who can then simply one-click a pre-written letter to their legislator. We call this “arm-chair” advocacy, and it has the advantage of sheer numbers.
Check out websites for any social action organization and I am sure you will find some great ideas. Follow up these letters with press releases for events, such as folks on this site getting published and speaking out publicly. Keep the legislators informed and up to date.
If you can make a policy change at your state level, and enough states also make the same policy change, this is the most effective way criminalize professional exploitation.