Over half of the states in this country have legislation against therapist sexual abuse. Unfortunately, Oklahoma is not one of them. As of 2023, sexual assault by a therapist in Oklahoma is not a criminal offense.
According to FindLaw.com, in Oklahoma, the term “sexual assault” refers to any crime where the offender subjects the victim to unwanted and offensive sexual touching. They list the three main sexual assault crimes as rape, rape by instrument, and forcible sodomy.
Sexual Assault vs. Sexual Assault by a Therapist in Oklahoma: A Side by Side Comparison
|Rape Qualifiers||Therapist Sexual Abuse|
|The victim is less than 16||Whether child or adult, transference is common in a therapeutic relationship. Transference occurs when a client projects feelings about someone else, particularly someone encountered in childhood, onto his/her therapist. This phenomenon can place the client in a vulnerable “child” role and the therapist in a “parent/savior” role. Regurgitating childhood pain and memories can also put the client into the role of “child” emotionally speaking.|
The victim is incapable of giving legal consent due to mental illness or any other unsoundness of the mind (whether temporary or permanent)
|Anxiety and depression are common amongst those seeking counseling. At the very least, clients are in a state of emotional duress and/or instability.|
|Force or violence is used (or threatened with the apparent ability to carry out the threat)||Sexual predators do not need to use force or violence in order to keep their subjects subdued. Instead, they utilize equally powerful weapons of manipulation. My abuser threatened his victims—”No one will believe a patient in counseling” and “I am best friends with the DA.”|
|The victim is unconscious, and the offenders know that the victim is unconscious, during the sexual intercourse||Psychiatrists have access to drugs. My abusive therapist was a psychiatrist. He used strong painkillers on one of his victims when a recent surgery made sexual intercourse too painful for her.|
|The victim submits to the sexual intercourse while believing that the offender is their spouse because the offender has intentionally tricked the victim||My abuser groomed me over a period of a year and a half. The entire experience was a masterful display of trickery and lies.|
|The victim is under the legal custody of a government agency and engages in sexual intercourse with an employee of that government organization that exercises control over the victim, or||“Exercises control over the victim” is the key phrase. A therapist holds all the power in the therapeutic relationship; in fact, it is impossible for a client in therapy to give consent for this very reason.|
|The victim is between 16 and 20 years old and is a student, or is under the legal supervision of a school, and engages in sexual intercourse with an offender who is 18 years old or older and is an employee of that same school system||Again, the issue here is the imbalance of power. Due to transference, a client feels extremely “small” in comparison to their “savior therapist.” In addition, the therapist is typically older than the patient. In both of these cases, it is challenging for the victim to say no.|
|Punishment for Rape||Punishment for Therapist Abuse|
|First-degree rape: Felony. Punishable by death, imprisonment for at least five years, life, or life without parole. Second-degree rape: Felony. Punishable by imprisonment for between one and 15 years.||None|
After my case brought this issue to light in Oklahoma, Senator Josh Brecheen tried for a second time to pass legislation making therapist sexual abuse a crime. He asked for a misdemeanor and a possible $5,000 fine. It was rejected before it even hit the floor. Sadly, he stepped down as Senator and told me that no one else was interested in following through with this legislation.
To read more about Senator Brecheen’s attempt to pass legislation in Oklahoma as a result of my case, see below…
Can victims of sexual assault at the hands of a therapist not file criminal rape charges? Sure they can, but keep in mind there are no witnesses, and it will be their word against the professional’s. In my case, a woman seeking counseling for depression and anxiety versus her seasoned psychiatrist.
My abuser told friends and colleagues that I was delusional and that I imagined the abuse. When he was confronted by the medical board, he feigned an old injury, pulling out a cane, something he hadn’t used in the year and a half I’d been seeing him.
Will investigators see past the charade? Will they note the figurative gun to our heads? Will they have an appreciation for the manipulative weapons used against us? Maybe, or maybe not. Will they have enough working knowledge of transference to understand the imbalance of power that gets created in any successful therapeutic relationship? Unlikely. Therefore, it is vital that victims seek out an attorney who is trained in abuse of power and transference in therapy. If not, victims will likely face judgment and further victimization.
During my medical board interview, one of the medical board investigators told me that I might have a solid criminal rape case. Later, an attorney advised me against pursuing criminal charges saying, “It will destroy you and your family and the perpetrator will likely walk.” He was not the only attorney to give me that advice. My family and I had suffered enough already. No, thank you.
For these reasons, it is imperative that every state provide legislation to protect us while in the confines of a therapist’s office. We deserve that protection, and I intend to make that happen here.
To see a list of states and their current legislation on therapist sexual abuse, as well as how to fight for better laws, click here…https://partnersagainstsexualabuse.org/?fbclid=IwAR0X5EoZ8nOmPGrzYFCEWCgi8W6xelhaSJ-fPeEoXit4rtlA1Uia_h-jC4Q