Sexual Harassment and Abuse

Discussion Thread: Sexual Harassment and Abuse

Based on this module and all readings and presentations up to this point, create a response to one of the following prompt options:

OPTION 1: Britt and Pam work in a mental health facility that provides inpatient and outpatient services.  Although Britt and Pam were once colleague counselors, Britt was promoted a couple of years ago making him Pam’s supervisor.  In spite of the change in position, Pam and Britt remained friendly and occasionally had lunch together.  One day, Britt comes up behind Pam while she is working at her desk.  He begins massaging her shoulders and she looks distressed.  He also calls her “sweetie” while giving her the massage.  Pam doesn’t tell him to stop or express her discomfort with Britt’s massage. Sexual Harassment and Abuse


Consider these questions: Is this sexual harassment?  If Britt really intends no harm or nothing sexual, does that change your opinion about whether it is or isn’t harassment? What do you think about Britt calling Pam “sweetie”?  Is it an example of sexual harassment?  If Britt was still Pam’s colleague and not her supervisor would his behavior be considered sexual harassment?  What steps should Pam take in dealing with Britt’s behavior?  If you observed the massage, what would you do?  Explain.  If you were another supervisor on Britt’s level, what would you do?

OPTION 2:  Sam, a 20-year-old male client, tells you that when he was ten years old, he engaged in sexual activity with his older sister’s best friend (Lydia), who was 17.  Both professed to be Christians and were children of parents who were very involved in the same church.  The inception of the activity occurred when she and Sam’s sister were babysitting him.  It first began with Lydia talking to Sam about sexual things, then fondling him, then him fondling her, and it continued to progress.  By the time Sam was 12 years old, Lydia initiated sexual intercourse with Sam.  The sexual encounters continued through Sam’s adolescence and even didn’t stop when Sam would come home from college.  On one hand, Sam liked the attention and the feelings and sensations that accompanied the sexual behaviors. But he also felt extremely uncomfortable with the behaviors, yet aroused at the same time.  He never told anyone about the sexual encounters with Lydia nor did he tell Lydia that he didn’t like it and wanted to stop.  Sam thought it was all over when he left for college. In fact, although Lydia married while Sam was in his first year of college it continued, much to Sam’s amazement when he would return home during college breaks.  During his sophomore year, Sam was struggling.  Once a 3.75 GPA student, his college grades continued to decline.  He reported low confidence, anxiety in social situations, and promiscuity with several girls at the same time.  On top of everything, Sam was questioning his faith.

Consider these questions: How do you explain the encounters between Sam and Lydia as sexual abuse when they continued into his adulthood?  In terms of whether to report the abuse or not, how would you counsel Sam?  Is this a case that you would be required to report?  Explain.  How would you help Sam? Sexual Harassment and Abuse

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