In 2001, I was working for a man who often came to work drunk or hungover, yelled at staff and therapists, required we hold staff meetings at a local bar, as a dart team, and hit on women employees by hugging us, rubbing up against us and kiss. On one occasion, he showed up at the ER to evaluate one of my patients for detox, while himself intoxicated.
In fulfillment of my ethical obligation, I reported him to the CEO, to no avail. I further met with other victims of his harassment to gather our evidence in order to intervene, also to no avail. In addition, I encouraged clients whom he had harassed to report him to regional behavioral health authority, to no avail. Somehow, he was politically insulated from consequences for his behavior.
When he was told that I was attempting to organize an intervention, he began to document every error I made, flooded me with cases so that I would get behind in paperwork, baited me into situations that were a violation of ethics by talking to me in
the hallways, telling me to work when my daughter was ill and just bring her into have the BHTs watch her, and finally talking my husband into joining him at poker parties where the men of the agency and a few of the BHTs who were having extramarital affairs with them, were allowed to attend, in order to cause me distress.
To make matters worse, he knew that my ex-husband was a recovering alcoholic and addict whom had been successful in his recovery since our marriage in 1993, but pressured him into relapse and an affair. When I confronted him on this, he gestured for me to give him oral sex, stating "the best way to overcome an affair is to have one yourself." When I reported this, he
threatened to destroy my reputation and career for any further action, the complaint was viewed as a false allegation for which I would be fired if I did not recant, so I quit.
In 2004, when I attempted to get my license, this man used his file of character attacks to convince Debra Riunado that I had a personality disorder, and that all of my allegations were false. Those whom had agreed to back me up for reporting him suddenly retreated, likely because he has a file on them too. I did not know about this until I was sitting in front of my colleagues before the board, and listening to Kami Thur speak his words, humiliating me in public for him, and using the same abusive allegations he had while he was harassing me. I was devastated, unable to gather the strength to fight. So, I was left with no choice but to admit to my "impairment" and be denied my LPC. This decision has so far cost me over $250,000 in potential income, and over $50,000 in higher cost insurance and multiple attempts to meet ever-changing education requirements. It also nearly cost me custody of my daughter, and resulted in my being court ordered to allow my ex-husband to have parenting time with her, after his relapse and involvement with former clients of mine whom I knew were a threat to my daughter's safety.
So, as a result of the Board's inadvertent collusion with this man, my daughter was exposed to drug abuse, domestic violence, and the molestation of her step sisters. She acted this out at school and had to change schools 5 times, and I have experienced post traumatic stress and impaired judgment every two years, whenever I have to potentially re-live the traumatic event of having my character be assassinated by the board. Every two years, I have been overwhelmed by the memories of all that I have lost, and all that I still stand to lose, just for doing what was right.
Recently, my inability to overcome the traumatic stress symptoms that were exacerbated by the consequences of the Board's inadvertent collusion finally led to the revocation of my license. They did not care that my daughter is now thriving and healthy, as are my relationships with my ex-husband and husband. They did not care that I survived this entire trauma and came out stronger, maintained sobriety through it all, and functioned well, without incident and with positive reviews, in between license renewal periods. They did not care that I have diligently consulted with colleagues, went to therapy, and researched and improved standards of practice for 7 years, in effort to rehabilitate. All they looked for were the facts they needed to continue to protect a man who destroyed my career in retaliation for my sexual harassment complaint.
What really amazes me is that they had investigated this man and my ex-husband, finding that my "false allegations" were in fact true. So, I had expected them to at least have some compassion, if not admit that they may have been given some false impressions.
But, it appears that Debra Riunado and Kami Thur are instead unwitting accomplices to the crime of sexual harassment and subsequent threats to be silent or face defamation of character. By colluding in this manner, they fail in their duty to protect the public, perpetuating the stigma against victims with mental illness or substance abuse, even when those symptoms originated from the crime. This sets a deplorable example, for they have caused me irreparable harm. Being in this field, you would think that they would realize that by linking such extreme consequences to the harassment I suffered, they have complicated my recovery and trauma. What could have taken months to overcome has instead so far taken now 10 years.
The only good thing about losing my license is that now, perhaps, I can move on- no longer in fear that any slight error in my work will result in public humiliation and defamation. Now, after 10 years, perhaps I can restore my good name once and for all, without the threat of their discrimination over my head.
Working with both victims and offenders of domestic violence for over 20 years, I have fortunately learned that I can rise above whatever they do to me or say about me, just as I have helped over 2000 clients to do when the system has discriminated against them. I have the tools to survive oppression, and to not allow them to make me become what they have been working for years to prove I am. And when I do, I will make a difference in the field of behavioral health, by changing the way the Board treats professionals. We work hard to help people, and we should not be subjected to the hostile work environments that are perpetuated by the Board. For our clients' sake, we need to provided with the type of leadership that instills confidence, pride, and dignity, rather than in fear. The Board is our example, and they should therefore be expected to treat us as they would have us treat our clients, as whole human beings, with potential and strengths-not as criminals whom they appear to regard as inherently evil.