A case study of an incident of professional sexual abuse in UK mental health services

Melville-Wiseman, J. (2016) A case study of an incident of professional sexual abuse in UK mental health services. In: UNSPECIFIED, ed. International Womens Issues Conference 2016 - Selected Papers. University of Central Florida. ISBN 9781532301186


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This paper presents and instrumental case study involving the rape of a vulnerable women with mental health needs (Alice) by her Community Psychiatric Nurse within UK mental health services. It provides an alternative feminist emancipatory paradigm for the understanding of professional sexual abuse in such settings. Previous studies and policy developments in the UK have sought to explain such crimes by forensically examining the victim (usually a woman) in terms of her psycho-pathology and mental health history in order to find the root causes of her abuse within that. These approaches are ineffective and can easily lead to victim blaming. A wider systemic view is called for with the voices of victims at the centre. The study drew on a number of informants connected to the case but primarily supported Alice to tell her story. The results revealed that there is a culture of collusion and secrecy in services which mitigates against challenges to boundary violations. There is little awareness of the difficulty victims have in disclosing such abuse and the long term impact on them and their families is largely ignored. The paper considers the implications of these findings for individuals, services, regulatory bodies and educators and presents Alice’s own reflections on telling her story.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman > HQ1101 Women. Feminism
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV6001 Criminology > HV6251 Crimes and offences > HV6561 Rape
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine > RA0790 Mental health services. Mental illness prevention
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Wellbeing > School of Public Health, Midwifery and Social Work
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Dr Janet Melville-Wiseman
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2016 15:26
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2016 10:36
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/14325

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00