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Sexual infliction of mental suffering is a form of abuse that can have devastating and long-lasting effects on victims. It is a particularly insidious form of abuse because it is often not recognized as such, and victims may feel ashamed or embarrassed to speak out about their experiences.

Sexual infliction of mental suffering can take many different forms, but at its core, it involves the use of sexual acts or behaviour to control, manipulate, or harm another person. This may include non-consensual sexual acts, sexual harassment or intimidation, or other forms of sexual behaviour that are intended to cause harm or distress.

One of the most troubling aspects of sexual infliction of mental suffering is the way that it can impact victims’ mental health. Victims may experience feelings of shame, guilt, or self-blame as a result of their experiences, and may struggle with depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Infliction of Mental Suffering

The devastating impact on mental health

In addition, sexual infliction of mental suffering can have long-lasting effects on victims’ ability to form and maintain healthy relationships. Victims may struggle with trust issues, intimacy issues, or difficulty forming emotional connections with others.

It’s important to note that sexual infliction of mental suffering is not always recognized or acknowledged as a form of abuse. Victims may feel that their experiences are not taken seriously or that they will not be believed if they speak out. This can create a culture of silence and shame around sexual abuse that can be difficult to break.

One potential strategy for addressing the sexual infliction of mental suffering is to raise awareness of the issue and to work towards creating a culture of openness and support for victims. This may involve providing education and training to professionals in fields such as law enforcement, healthcare, and education, as well as working to reduce stigma and promote understanding around issues of sexual abuse and mental health.

Understanding signs of abuse

Another strategy is to provide support and resources for victims of sexual abuse, including counselling, therapy, and other forms of support. This can help victims to process their experiences and to begin the healing process.

Ultimately, the key to addressing sexual infliction of mental suffering is to recognize it as a serious form of abuse and to work towards creating a society that is more supportive of victims and more proactive in preventing abuse from occurring in the first place.

This may involve changes in laws and policies to better protect victims of sexual abuse, as well as changes in social attitudes and cultural norms around issues of sex, consent, and power. It may also involve greater investment in research and education to better understand the impact of sexual abuse on mental health and to identify strategies for prevention and intervention.

Sexual infliction of mental suffering is a serious issue that can have devastating and long-lasting effects on victims. It is a form of abuse that is often hidden and unrecognized, but it is important to work towards raising awareness and creating a more supportive and understanding culture around issues of sexual abuse and mental health.

By doing so, we can help to ensure that victims receive the support and resources they need to heal and recover and that we are all better equipped to prevent abuse from occurring in the future.

Breaking the cycle of abuse

Before true equality can exist between men and women, society will need to think critically about some entrenched assumptions that frequently go unchallenged.

One of these stereotypes is the cliche of the younger, ambitious woman — commonly referred to as a gold-digger — who seeks out a wealthy older man to satisfy her material needs, says Toronto family lawyer Inna Tsinman.

“I’m not denying that predatory marriages exist,” she says. “But in some cases, it’s actually the reverse of what appears on the surface: older men who are financially well-off are preying on younger women with limited means and resources, often destroying their self-esteem on the way. As opposed to looking at her as a gold-digger, we should consider that she may be a victim.”

Tsinman says snap judgments based on how a relationship looks are not helpful in revealing the true nature of such unions, which is often that one partner is exercising power and control over the other.

Importance of consent and boundaries

In her practice, she works with clients, primarily women, who became involved with their superiors at work — not based on genuine, mutual attraction, but because they felt pressure to return the man’s advances.

“This is known as coerced caring,” Tsinman says. “It arises when your financial interests are aligned with the person you’re working for. As a result, you start caring for that person and doing everything you can to ensure their success,” including entering into a relationship with them.

“As a result of the pressure of the financial interest alliance, the male boss will start to take advantage of this caring. The woman feels trapped, as though she doesn’t have a choice. This is her job and livelihood. Her career is on the line,” she says.

Overcoming shame and stigma

Overcoming shame and stigma

To illustrate the point, Tsinman recalls the story of one of her distant relatives, a Jewish woman with a child who became romantically linked to a Nazi officer during the occupation in Europe.

“They had marital relations,” she says. “She had to rely on him for all her and her son’s needs because it was a life-and-death situation for her and her child. She traded sex for another day of life.”

Traditional gender roles and financial dynamics play a pivotal role in enabling these kinds of relationships, Tsinman says.

“When a client comes to me for legal advice, I often ask, ‘If you were not financially dependent on this person, would you still have feelings for him?’ Many of them say no,” she says.

Tsinman says one way to create an equal footing for women is through the expansion of tort law, penalizing those who exploit their economic power and degrade a woman’s personhood.

Intentional infliction of mental suffering

“Currently, there’s no tort of intentional infliction of mental suffering in the context of economic coercion of sex, but there have been cases where women were awarded damages based on violence and abuse they experienced during their unions,” she says, pointing to a 2009 decision where a judge relied on the tort of intentional infliction of mental distress to award damages of $15,000 to the woman.

In a recent paper, Tsinman says the inherent difficulty with a predatory marriage is in reconciling the injustice caused to the vulnerable and/or incapable spouse since such relationships are not easily challenged in law.

“By recognizing the mental suffering of victims of economic coercion, we can protect vulnerable people from the destruction of their dignity,” she says.