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Old 08-26-2018, 10:55 PM #1
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Default Grooming process and "pink" flags

I'm wondering if anyone who has been a victim of therapist abuse or is familiar with it can share some more subtle signs that the grooming process has begun. There are red flags, like overtly sexualizing the patient, but before the flags become red there are cues that something is wrong. Usually they go ignored because they don't even consciously register as an issue. What does this look like? When and how do/did you recognize that something was wrong and continue the therapy anyway? Like, when did you start feeling uncomfortable but brush it off because the flag wasn't red enough?
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Old 08-27-2018, 12:25 AM #2
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Default Re: Grooming process and "pink" flags

I think, people, who can best answer your questions, are the ones who were sexually abused by their therapists.

My abuse was not sexual. It could be best described as emotional seduction, which turns a relationship into a somewhat sexualized "friendship" when intense emotions and mutual sharing are involved and yet it doesn't cross the line of the physical boundary, which allows people to keep pretending that nothing wrong is happening. With this type of abuse I wouldn't say there was a "grooming", not in my experience. To me it was like the therapist simply wasn't aware of his professional role and what it entailed and allowed himself a lot of inappropriate behaviors while still believing he was doing "therapy". And I was too vulnerable and too confused for a long time to understand what was taking place for what it was. For me, like for many other victims, whether they were abused sexually or in other ways, what was happening seemed like something very "special" and, as ridiculous as it may sound, "healing". When you are vulnerable, as clients are, especially those who had a traumatic history, and when you are strongly attached to and dependent on your therapist, you are not in a position to exercise a good judgment. So, people can't really just "stop" seeing an abusive therapist even when they know that he or she goes outside of the lines of the professional conduct. They are way too dependent just to cut the connection and, just like people in all abusive relationships, they stay in denial of what is really happening for a very long time. They keep excusing, rationalizing and justifying the therapist's behavior until they hit rock bottom.

Anyway, that's just my experience..There is a whole variety out there. There are no two identical stories..Each one is unique and yet through most of them you can observe some common themes..
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Old 08-27-2018, 12:29 AM #3
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Default Re: Grooming process and "pink" flags

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ididitmyway View Post
I think, people, who can best answer your questions, are the ones who were sexually abused by their therapists.

My abuse was not sexual. It could be best described as emotional seduction, which turns a relationship into a somewhat sexualized "friendship" when intense emotions and mutual sharing are involved and yet it doesn't cross the line of the physical boundary, which allows people to keep pretending that nothing wrong is happening. With this type of abuse I wouldn't say there was a "grooming", not in my experience. To me it was like the therapist simply wasn't aware of his professional role and what it entailed and allowed himself a lot of inappropriate behaviors while still believing he was doing "therapy". And I was too vulnerable and too confused for a long time to understand what was taking place for what it was. For me, like for many other victims, whether they were abused sexually or in other ways, what was happening seemed like something very "special" and, as ridiculous as it may sound, "healing". When you are vulnerable, as clients are, especially those who had a traumatic history, and when you are strongly attached to and dependent on your therapist, you are not in a position to exercise a good judgment. So, people can't really just "stop" seeing an abusive therapist even when they know that he or she goes outside of the lines of the professional conduct. They are way too dependent just to cut the connection and, just like people in all abusive relationships, they stay in denial of what is really happening for a very long time. They keep excusing, rationalizing and justifying the therapist's behavior until they hit rock bottom.

Anyway, that's just my experience..There is a whole variety out there. There are no two identical stories..Each one is unique and yet through most of them you can observe some common themes..
Thanks, I am sorry this happened to you. Can you give examples of how the therapist made you feel special (and/or special to him as a client)?
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Old 08-27-2018, 12:54 AM #4
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Default Re: Grooming process and "pink" flags

Oh, yes, in terms of "pink flags"..I don't think anyone can clearly pinpoint what they are. All I can say is that if you have strong feelings a.k.a "transference" for your therapist you won't be able to detect what's wrong for quite some time because some of the inappropriate things the therapist does may feel great to you. F.i, when the therapist tells you that they "love" you, that would make you happy and you'd believe that this is very "healing" and exactly what you need when, in fact, this is a clear indication that you should run away and never return.

Many things will not be obvious. They'll be subtle. In general, anything that the therapist says or does that sounds or looks personal rather than professional could be a "pink flag". I am saying "could be" because it's difficult to make a list of such "flags" without running a risk of demonizing some basic human behaviors and gestures as "unprofessional". I've seen websites that have such "lists" and I find them stupid. Many things on those lists don't mean anything in and of themselves. F.i, they suggest that scheduling a session at the late hour is a "red flag" when, in some instances, it might just be the only time available. Everything is contextual. You can't categorize anything as a "red" or "pink" or whatever "flag" unless you look at it in the context of the specific situation in which it took place.

In short, the best way to evaluate those situations is to create a distance between you and your feelings in order not to be swept by them. Listen to what your gut is telling you. If it tells you that something is not right, most likely it isn't. This doesn't mean you should immediately leave. Just be mindful of the fact that you are vulnerable in this situation and that you can't completely trust your feelings and your thought process. As much as possible , try to make a distance between your inner "observer" and your mental state. The "observer" is your awareness, the only thing you can trust which will eventually tell you what's going on if you trust it and stay connected to it.

Sorry if this answer disappoints you since there is no "flags"descriptions and no instructions on what to do but that's kind of how life is..
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Old 08-27-2018, 01:10 AM #5
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Default Re: Grooming process and "pink" flags

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Originally Posted by Ididitmyway View Post
Oh, yes, in terms of "pink flags"..I don't think anyone can clearly pinpoint what they are. All I can say is that if you have strong feelings a.k.a "transference" for your therapist you won't be able to detect what's wrong for quite some time because some of the inappropriate things the therapist does may feel great to you. F.i, when the therapist tells you that they "love" you, that would make you happy and you'd believe that this is very "healing" and exactly what you need when, in fact, this is a clear indication that you should run away and never return.

Many things will not be obvious. They'll be subtle. In general, anything that the therapist says or does that sounds or looks personal rather than professional could be a "pink flag". I am saying "could be" because it's difficult to make a list of such "flags" without running a risk of demonizing some basic human behaviors and gestures as "unprofessional". I've seen websites that have such "lists" and I find them stupid. Many things on those lists don't mean anything in and of themselves. F.i, they suggest that scheduling a session at the late hour is a "red flag" when, in some instances, it might just be the only time available. Everything is contextual. You can't categorize anything as a "red" or "pink" or whatever "flag" unless you look at it in the context of the specific situation in which it took place.

In short, the best way to evaluate those situations is to create a distance between you and your feelings in order not to be swept by them. Listen to what your gut is telling you. If it tells you that something is not right, most likely it isn't. This doesn't mean you should immediately leave. Just be mindful of the fact that you are vulnerable in this situation and that you can't completely trust your feelings and your thought process. As much as possible , try to make a distance between your inner "observer" and your mental state. The "observer" is your awareness, the only thing you can trust which will eventually tell you what's going on if you trust it and stay connected to it.

Sorry if this answer disappoints you since there is no "flags"descriptions and no instructions on what to do but that's kind of how life is..
Yeah, I totally know what you mean about lists. I guess maybe a better way to put it is, When you look back with your new perspective, when should you have left? When should it have become obvious that the therapist was abusing you or had intent to abuse you? Sometimes I look back on my abusive situations and I'm just like, damn, it should have been clear and would have been if you weren't the frog in the pot.
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Old 08-27-2018, 01:12 AM #6
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Default Re: Grooming process and "pink" flags

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Originally Posted by blackocean View Post
Thanks, I am sorry this happened to you. Can you give examples of how the therapist made you feel special (and/or special to him as a client)?
Well, one of the things I mentioned in the previous comment (telling me that he "loved" me). This one is an absolute "red flag" to me, though many people on this forum seem to think otherwise.

There were many others. He was telling me that he was seeing "God" in me, that he thought about me all the time "in and out of sessions" and other crazy stuff like that. He initiated holding hands..There was inappropriate self-disclosure and many other things. Like I said, I don't believe it's helpful to give a "list" of all the actions that are or could be potentially problematic because all this stuff is very subtle, very individual, very unique to each individual case
. Please, understand that this is not about specific actions, about specific things that therapists do or don't do. It's about the whole attitude towards their work and a particular client. The therapist I am talking about was not the most harmful to me, believe it or not. The one who harmed me most was also the one who never crossed any boundary of the acceptable professional behavior. The one who has crossed the formal boundary was a guy with a bunch of unresolved personal problems who genuinely believed that he was helping me and who had no clue what a therapist role was. The "professional" one was truly abusive. He played sadistic mind games but there is nothing specific I can tell you about it right now that would make you see it clearly. So, abuse is not just about violating the formal code of ethics. A therapist can exploit a client's vulnerabilities without ever crossing any formal ethical boundary and you will never be able to explain to anyone how it happened because there will be no particular behavior/action that you can point to.
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Old 08-27-2018, 01:21 AM #7
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Default Re: Grooming process and "pink" flags

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Yeah, I totally know what you mean about lists. I guess maybe a better way to put it is, When you look back with your new perspective, when should you have left? When should it have become obvious that the therapist was abusing you or had intent to abuse you? Sometimes I look back on my abusive situations and I'm just like, damn, it should have been clear and would have been if you weren't the frog in the pot.
I look at it differently. I don't tell myself that I should have left at such and such time. I know that I left when I was ready to leave. I knew something was wrong for a long time, but I also knew that I was not strong enough to leave and so I allowed myself to hang in there for as long as I needed to get enough strength to break away. Meanwhile, I was observing myself and what was happening from a neutral place and I solicited some outside help - from other therapists and some other people. I look back at this and see it as an enormously important life lesson. I wish I didn't have to pay such a high price to learn it, but we don't get to decide how we learn things in this life. If we are forced to learn something the hard way, it means that there was really no other way to teach us..
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Old 08-27-2018, 02:22 AM #8
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Default Re: Grooming process and "pink" flags

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Originally Posted by Ididitmyway View Post
My abuse was not sexual. It could be best described as emotional seduction, which turns a relationship into a somewhat sexualized "friendship" when intense emotions and mutual sharing are involved and yet it doesn't cross the line of the physical boundary, which allows people to keep pretending that nothing wrong is happening.
this is very similar to what i experienced as well. it never became sexual or crossed inappropriate physical boundaries, but it definilty was intense with a lot of emotional sharing and 'intimate' openness between my ex-T and me that made the relationship feel very special and unique. in many ways, as it was happening, i did view it and even believed it was healing for me. i definitly felt 'emotionally seduced'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ididitmyway View Post
it was like the therapist simply wasn't aware of his professional role and what it entailed and allowed himself a lot of inappropriate behaviors while still believing he was doing "therapy". And I was too vulnerable and too confused for a long time to understand what was taking place for what it was.
this is exactly what i have come to understand about my experince with my ex-T. ultimately, i believe it happened because my T was using the relationship, under the guise of therapy, to fulfill his own needs, and i don't think he really was even consciously aware of what he was doing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ididitmyway View Post
They are way too dependent just to cut the connection and, just like people in all abusive relationships, they stay in denial of what is really happening for a very long time. They keep excusing, rationalizing and justifying the therapist's behavior until they hit rock bottom.
exactly. i hit rock bottom and it was at that point when the veil was finally lifted from my eyes that i fully started to come to understand and recognise what had been going on and playing out in the relationship with my ex-T. i finally could see that it was not a healthy relationship or helpful to my own well-being and healing. because i was so enmeshed and attached to my ex-T, i decided to take my time and work towards de-attaching myself from him so i could leave therapy when i felt i was strong enough and had the courage to. in the end, this probably became the most healing aspect of my six years of therapy with him...in a sense, i grew my wings and learned to leave the nest and say good bye in a healthy manner and on my own terms. for me, it was an empowering experience.
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Old 08-27-2018, 02:39 AM #9
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Default Re: Grooming process and "pink" flags

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this is very similar to what i experienced as well. it never became sexual or crossed inappropriate physical boundaries, but it definilty was intense with a lot of emotional sharing and 'intimate' openness between my ex-T and me that made the relationship feel very special and unique. in many ways, as it was happening, i did view it and even believed it was healing for me. i definitly felt 'emotionally seduced'.



this is exactly what i have come to understand about my experince with my ex-T. ultimately, i believe it happened because my T was using the relationship, under the guise of therapy, to fulfill his own needs, and i don't think he really was even consciously aware of what he was doing.



exactly. i hit rock bottom and it was at that point when the veil was finally lifted from my eyes that i fully started to come to understand and recognise what had been going on and playing out in the relationship with my ex-T. i finally could see that it was not a healthy relationship or helpful to my own well-being and healing. because i was so enmeshed and attached to my ex-T, i decided to take my time and work towards de-attaching myself from him so i could leave therapy when i felt i was strong enough and had the courage to. in the end, this probably became the most healing aspect of my six years of therapy with him...in a sense, i grew my wings and learned to leave the nest and say good bye in a healthy manner and on my own terms. for me, it was an empowering experience.
Yes. So many similar dynamics many of us can relate to..while still each one of us has our individual unique experience..Sorry this happened to you too
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Old 08-27-2018, 08:33 AM #10
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Default Re: Grooming process and "pink" flags

I was emotioanlly seduced by a t: He "sexualized our relationship and I am still trying to find the courage to confront him: Below is a (long) list of what he said: Feel free to pm me if you wish;



Below is a long list of what my t said and did to sexualize our relationship. I am still working on confronting him.


Do you want to get kissed, do you want to get naked, get laid?
Who wouldn’t fall in love with you?!
My colleagues would tell me to run fast and far but I will never abandon you.
How is it every week you take me on a journey where I should not go?
This is beginning to look like a personal relationship.
It is hard for US to end the session and hard for US to say goodbye.
If I gave you the green light, would you go for it?
I’ve failed you and I need to work on that.
Something between us could happen if I was feeling sad or lonely.
You fit right under my arm.
Every man in your life has failed you.
I like curves (he said, “God’s curves”)
I am afraid I am going to fall and it would ruin my life.
I know that you would make a wonderful love partner.
Do you think that if I kissed you it would take away the pain?
I am human and can be tempted.
I am curious, torn scared and conflicted.
I need to check myself and make sure I am not exploiting you physically, emotionally or financially.
If I were to stick my tongue down your throat, you would reject me.
(Pouring water in my glass): Let me fill you up, in a manner of speaking.
You are in my heart and in my head.
Are you wearing a bra? Having an orgasm?
Motioning me with his hands: Bring it on
If I were not married, I would probably go for it.
Held hands, fingers interlocking.
Where do you like to be kissed?
Would you want to have sex with a married man?
Men see purity and innocence in you.
You are so much fun to play with.
Who WOULDN’T fall in love with you?!
I had marshmallows in my mouth and e said: ‘You have quite a capacity…has your mouth slipped off anything else?
Asked why he was (stroking he leg) self-pleasuring. He said, “I do that when I am around you.”
We haven’t discussed OUR orgasm.
Your cup runneth over
I am killing you.
Let me find that sweet sot
A hand could get lost down there
You are a fire
You have hair like a movie star
It is not a me thing, but an US thing
Do you want me to see your nipples?
Do you like undressing for men?
Did he (boyfriend) slip you the tongue?
Ever had your picture taken in the nude?
You have an agile tongue.
Hooked his elbow around my knee and tried to flip me
I touched his nipples and he said, ‘Are they hard?” He said his nipples ae hard ALL of the time .
3 things that turn him on: oral sex, hands all over his body and undressing him.
Invited me to unbutton his shirt and said, ‘It wouldn’t be that much of a boundary violation..”
Told him I thought he was “lonely and hungry”—He said, ‘your evidence/’
Smelled my wrist and slid his face up to my elbow.
Doesn’t like to fight his feelings and if he were ever to touch me he would be “toast.”
If feeling sad or lonely he could take me in his arms and it would be “all over.
You are “passionate, enchantress, angel, elegant, lovely, naïve, wild, crazy, photogenic, spitfire, flirt, seductive and alluring.
You are emotionally sensitive.
My poetry is a “masterpiece” to the world.
I missed you.
I allow for the possibility of surprises.
You are not out of my head once we leave (you are in my heart and in my head) ,
You have been blessed; you can show me more, I wont be offended…in regards to my cleavage.
Can’t believe you don’t know about your power over men.
Admitted my perceptions were correct about him being hungry and lonely.
He is aware of how “hard, soft and what is touching when we hug.”
Drove me home and we sat listening to Yanni (blasting on the radio!) eating chocolate with the moon roof down: he said, ‘If I were your date, I would walk you to the door and shake your hand. “
Put a lei on me and said, ‘It doesn’t mean much without the kiss.”
Said, “move your breasts” twice.
Erections make him feel “alive..”
I’d push you against the wall and you’d be naked before you hit the wall.
You’d like to be nailed to the wall.
I might kiss you.
I trust you with my life.
That is what will happen….we will get married?
Said it would be “pleasureable to make love to me.”
He felt scared and pleasure at whaat happened between us.
I almost touched your softness.
You touched my penis.
If you kiss me…then you kiss me.
Holding my wrists and pulling me on top of him.

You just want me to chase you down and go after you.

He did role reversal and became “me.” I was SO in shock:
You are in love with me but just won’t say it. Would you like to F….me? Can’t we be F…buddies? Aren’t my breasts beautiful? Wouldn’t you like to touch them? Can I give you a blow job; sit on my lap; can we take off our clothes?

There is much more (years and years), but you get the drift!

Below is the letter I wrote, but haven't given to him:

Dear......:

People are what they do, not what they say. You said you didn't like to play with fire. For years now you have been playing with fire. Tempting, teasing, tormenting and torturing me, while you could walk away back to your happy little life unscathed. You gave me mixed messages: come here,, go away..I want you, I don't... Fortunately for me I am a strong woman, but not made of steel. I was authentic in my conversation and feelings for you. You were not. You had your cake and ate it too. My love was pure and from the soul; you have a lust thing going on; I resent that you played fast and loose with my emotions, heart and soul. That is sadistic. You walked away every week, with a "have a nice week"---Talk about surreal, like the teasing, sexual flirting never happened. You have thrown me on the couch, laid on top of me and said "Do you want to feel my full body weight?" You pulled my wrists and pulled me on top of you...that is only a few of the 100's of sexual behavior/teasing you did to me. I imagine your family, friends, colleagues and students wouldn't believe how you behaved with me. You are delusional if you think you are faithful. I usually know what session the guilt will get to you, and that you will be cold, withdrawn, with the Sybil persona. I sit there in misery. You played with my emotions, heart and soul. I was a woman who loved you with a pure heart. You have been unfaithful and cheating for years.

You have given me so many "green lights" I should be blind by now.

You sexualized our relationship x years ago, physically and verbally. I guess you had nothing to lose; play with me and leave. I had to process and go through myriad emotions; confusion, anger, sadness, frustration and hatred.

If you are happily married then help me understand how you have been coming on to me for years. What needs of yours am I meeting? What is missing in your life? I know that if I were in love with someone, there is no way I would be flirting, teasing with another man, let alone as a therapist in a professional setting.

If you weren't happily married and struggling with your feelings for me, I could forgive that.

If you ARE happily married and playing with my mind/seductive behavior, I will NEVER forgive that.

It was your responsibility to remain professional. You CHOSE to behave sexually towards me: Sexual misconduct.

I could have dealt with my feelings for you on my own, but you dragged me into YOUR struggle.

All of your degrees, etc., don't mean anything. People think they know you. Fortunately for you, I won't reveal the dark/sexual side you have shown me. How nice for you. great professional life, family, instructor, pastor, but it is all a SHAM.

The miracle is not that I haven't acted on my feelings, but that I haven't in spite of all you have done to ENC
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