Feminist Ethics, Boundary
Relationships, and Victims
Lenore E. A. Walker, EdD, ABPP
Maria, a 35-year-old woman had been a client for 3 years. She had originally
sought psychotherapy because she wanted to end a 10-year marriage with a
man who physically, sexually, and psychologically abused her. They had two
young children who, she felt, made it impossible to sever their relationship.
Although she found that his controlling behavior was oppressive, she could
not fail to respond to whatever he ordered. Therapy progressed well and
within 6 months she had instituted a separation followed by a dissolution of
the marriage. She obtained sole legal custody of their children, permitting
her to make whatever decisions were necessary on their behalf without having
to seek his concurrence. The children needed some therapy to help them
adjust to the new situation, which was done together with Maria in my office.
After the divorce was final, Maria began dating a man and I saw them together
for a few sessions of couple’s counseling, mostly around issues that came
from her response to a new, nonabusive relationship. After some period of
time, they planned to marry. Maria and her husband-to-be invited me to the
wedding. Should I attend?
Jennifer is a 7-year-old girl who was seen for psychotherapy after she revealed
that her father had been sexually abusing her for the past 2 years. She had