Psychiatric Sexual Assault & Other Crimes Cause Harm in Australia

Therapist sexual abuse is sexual abuse. Therapist rape is rape. They will never constitute therapy. Until this is widely recognized, with prosecutors treating every incidence of this as criminal offenses, many psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists will remain a threat to anyone, including children undergoing mental health therapy. – CCHR International

When a Psychiatrist, Psychologist or Psychotherapist is a Sexual Predator, Criminal Sanctions are Necessary

By CCHR International
The Mental Health Industry Watchdog
June 13, 2020

Australia has an inequity in its laws when it comes to psychiatrist and psychologist sexual offenses against patients, thereby putting potentially hundreds of patients at risk. Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) International’s therapist abuse database documents that since 2010, at least 54 Australian psychologists and psychiatrists had their licenses suspended or revoked—primarily for patient sexual abuse. While some are criminally prosecuted, the abuse is largely treated as a disciplinary issue, which must change, CCHR says. While compassion, common sense and decency declare that sexual abuse of patients is a serious and criminal act, psychiatrists and psychologists sanitize it as mere “professional misconduct.”

In other countries, such as the United States, Germany, Israel and Sweden, there are laws specifying it a criminal offense for therapists to have sexual contact with a mental healthcare patient. In fact, CCHR has successfully worked to obtain laws that ensure psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists and behavioral counselors are not above the law, with 32 criminal statutes in the U.S. alone that now protect patients from therapist sexual assault.[1]

The abuse is prevalent in Australia. 

  • The Medical Journal of Australia reported that “an anonymous mail survey of psychiatrists found that 7.6%, almost all male, reported erotic contact with patients during or after termination of treatment.”[2]
  • In 2007, Australian psychiatrist Prof. Carolyn Quadrio’s research found that one in every ten male therapists will have sex with or develop an intimate link with a female patient.[3]
  • The rates of abuse are similar to that in the U.S. where a survey of U.S. psychiatrists, published in 2006, found 7.1% of the male and 3.1% of the female responding psychiatrists acknowledged sexual contact with their own patients.[4]
  • An estimated 3,369 psychiatrists were working in Australia in 2017, of which 60.8% (2,048) were male and 39.2% female (1,321).[5] That equates to an estimated 156 male and 41 female Australian psychiatrists sexually exploiting patients (the female statistic estimated from using the U.S. 3.1%)
  • Just as concerning, 33% of U.S. psychiatrists who responded to one survey admitted to sexual relationships with multiple patients.[6]
  • In another study, 80% of psychologists who had intimate relationships with patients reported encounters with multiple patients.[7]
  • Quadrio’s published 1996 analysis of data derived from assessments of 40 women who experienced sexual abuse in therapy also determined 68% had a history of childhood abuse, and one half were themselves helping professionals.[8] Further, like a child depends upon a parent, a patient often depends upon a therapist.[9]

The sexual crimes committed by psychiatrists are estimated at 37 times greater than rapes occurring in the general community, one U.S. law firm stated.

In Australia, this potentially puts hundreds of patients at risk. While license revocations may prevent a psychiatrist or psychologist from practicing, this can be temporary and they can continue to practice as an unregistered therapist, albeit not likely able to bill insurance companies.  A Boston Globe article suggested psychiatry is a “hotbed of sexual misconduct.”[10]

  • A study published in February 2020 reinforces that “Sexual relationships between psychiatrists and patients are neither a new phenomenon nor particularly rare.”[11]
  • The sexual crimes committed by psychiatrists are estimated at 37 times greater than rapes occurring in the general community, one U.S. law firm stated, estimating that about 150,000 female patients in the U.S. have been assaulted.[12]

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