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Courage To Come Back: Mental health award recipient survived the ultimate betrayal

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She survived unspeakable abuse as a child only to find her worst-ever predator in adulthood: her therapist. Our series of Courage To Come Back profiles continues with a look at Bernadine Fox of Burnaby, the recipient of the Mental Health award. The details are chilling. And they didn’t happen in some faraway place, but rather in rural Alberta in the late `60s and early `70s. “Yeah, at a time when police would tell you that pornography and prostitution with children did not happen in Canada. In fact, I was told that explicitly by a police officer, that it only happened in Europe,” Bernadine recalled. “What happened? The same thing that happens to most little girls who are used by a trafficking ring,” she explained. “I was exploited within child pornography and prostitution.” “People thought, at the time, ‘that’s where you take kids to have an ideal childhood, where kids are safe.’ And, in fact, that has been further than the truth in my case.” A portrait of Bernadine Fox, the recipient of the Courage To Come Back award in the Mental Health category. By the age of 15, Bernadine had escaped that life. But the damage had been done, affecting her ability to trust and form lasting relationships. The abuse also resulted in PTSD, chronic fatigue, and other ailments. “When you have a childhood like mine, you come out of it with a lot of walls,” she said. But not even a fortress could prepare Bernardine for what she would go through next: being betrayed by her therapist. “When you’re working with somebody who’s not necessarily worked through all their stuff…what they do is mistake that trust and start to use it for their own sense of well being,” she said. “It is very much a relationship built on an imbalance of power. Even the College of Physicians and Surgeons will tell you that the relationship between a psychiatrist and a client is akin to a parent and a child.” Read more Courage To Come Back Award profiles: Medical award recipient wouldn’t take no for an answer Addictions award recipient survived residential schools and alcoholism Youth award recipient survives cancer to chase big screen dreams Today, Bernadine advocates for others who have survived abuse at the hands of their therapists and counsellors, pushing policymakers to better regulate that corner of the health care sector. “From the time of Freud, we have a situation where therapists are given the right to define what’s true for their clients. And so now they have the right to say, ‘Nothing happened. They’re crazy. You don’t have to believe them.’ And that happens way too often,” she said. “She was very well known and very respected as a counsellor. So, for me to come along and say, ‘No, no, no, this is what happened,’ it was really hard for people to believe,” Bernadine told CityNews. “But I also have a ton of evidence that that’s what happened because we ended up in a committed relationship. We bought a house [together]. You know, all of these things therapists should not be doing with their clients.” When she finally broke free of her therapist, Bernadine was treated more like a scorned lover than a victim. Now, she works with a group to help others like her. “You know, lots of people come to us and say, ‘I had an affair with my therapist.’ And we have to say, ‘No, no, no. You got assaulted by your therapist.’” Bernadine hopes to leverage the profile of her award to advocate for others in her shoes. “I still feel a little shocked that I won,” she admitted. “But I as I wrote in the application, it was an honour to be nominated and I hope that in having this award that there will be more attention paid to what happens to clients who have been abused by their therapists.” CityNews 1130 is a proud sponsor of the Coast Mental Health Courage To Come Back Awards, which raise critical funds for British Columbians living with mental illness.


From: citynews1130
URL: https://vancouver.citynews.ca/2022/05/19/courage-to-come-back-mental-health-2022/

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