"A One-Time Thing"
Hi, my name is Raine. I have been trying for years now to say that the mental hospital is a terrifying place to be and that it needs to be reformed, but not many people talk about it so most people don't understand. I'd like to talk about four incidents that were very important to me and took place at two different treatment centers.
One incident that happened was when I was getting checked into the hospital: I was told to strip naked despite being on my menstrual cycle. Even though I told the staff that I was wearing a pad, they made me strip and drop my underwear onto the floor. It was so embarrassing and dehumanizing, especially as someone who has dealt with sexual assault.
Another incident happened while I was in treatment at a residential facility in Colorado. At the time, I was identifying as a transgender male. The staff were openly transphobic and called me an "it". They used my birth name in front of patients several times as well as misgendering me. It was a horrible experience, especially since you are supposed to feel safe and accepted at the hospital. There was a medical doctor who told another transgender patient that they weren't transgender and just a "confused little boy,” to which this patient filed a report and asked the doctor to leave.
Another incident was again at the residential treatment center. A female nurse was in the dayroom with the other patients bragging about putting in her two weeks notice and how she was going to be paid so much more for less hours. This particular staff member had problems with restraining and would pull on girls underwear to hold them. The head of nursing staff was right in front of her too and said "in the locker room talk" to which the nurse shrugged her shoulders and laughed it off.
The last incident I'd like to talk about is very severe. It also happened at the residential treatment center. There was a male staff member who was close to a specific female patient. They would often talk in private and he would give her items that were banned on the unit. Me and several others noticed this and were quick to call it out. This male staff member was grooming the underaged female. He had a conversation with her and said that he felt uncomfortable when she unbuttoned her clothes in front of him. He also was kinder to her than all the other patients. Me and several other patients had dealt with sexual assault and grooming before so we understood what he was doing. Whenever I would interact with this staff member, he would ignore me and my needs despite being the only staff member working at that time. He would harass me and I remember one time he told me I couldn't sit and chat in my own doorway with my friend. I refused to move and he walked away. I checked to see if he really walked away but he was crouching down on the floor by my friend's room to listen to our conversation.
Eventually the male staff member was removed from our unit, but was still working on other units. One day, a female nurse cornered me in my room and began to interrogate me about the situation. My friend next door was about to leave her room when she saw me being cornered and stayed to listen. The female nurse was yelling at me asking why I would report this staff member when they are already understaffed. When I told her about what the male staff member said to the underaged female patient she continued to yell at me about how it was "a one-time thing." I refused to talk to her about the situation anymore and walked away.
I have been in the hospital seventeen times in total and I am still traumatized about it. I haven't been to the hospital in almost two years because I feel it is unsafe for me. I refuse to go back even though sometimes I feel like I need it.
I really think what your organization is doing is so important and if sharing my story could help, I'm glad to do it. Thank you.