2 deaths

per year

An average of two patients die per year as a direct result of physical restraints. Causes of death range from accidental strangulation to excessive chest pressure to cutting off blood flow to the head.

1,100

estimated sexual assaults per year

Approximately 65% of patients in psychiatric hospitals have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime. Despite this obvious source of trauma, the system does nothing to prevent further assaults from continuing inside the walls of its facilities.

25 -47%

of restrained patients develop

clinically diagnosed PTSD

Although it's not uncommon for staff to joke about restraints, restraint training, and/or those they have to restrain, this "humor" is inapplicable to patients. Nearly 47% of those who have been psychiatrically restrained develop clinical PTSD from the ordeal.

"Make my love like a circle,

no beginning and no end."

~Brenda

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What does "TW" mean?

Most of our Survivors' Stories contains the letters "TW." This stands for "Trigger Warning,"  a statement used to alert you of potentially distressing material. Please carefully read the list following the "TW" and assess your own boundaries before opening a story. Your personal wellbeing is our first priority at SecondAid. 

Brenda's Story
 

December 29, 2003 - November 2, 2022 

TW: self-harm, restraints

❝None of this should be happening. Treatment should have the positives outweighing the negatives, but that is often not the case.

 

This cause is so incredibly important and I hope my story helps people see how bad things can really be.❞

Be aware that the following stories contain many emotionally difficult accounts.

Please consider how proceeding may impact you be sure to prioritize your own personal safety. 

Mira Goldstein

Mira's Story
 

TW: suicide, self-harm, eating disorders, restraints

❝When a child is suffering, the question is not: Why is this child failing the system? Instead, we should be asking ourselves: Why is the system failing this child? 

 

The system changed me.

Now I am fighting to change the system.❞

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Grey's Story
 

TW: suicide, self-harm, restraints

❝I hope the system changes for the hundreds of children in the exact same place I am in right now, who are just looking for someone who has their best interests at heart.

Someone who cares. I wish I could promise that a psychiatric ward would give them that. I really wish I could. ❞

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Lyn's Story
 

TW: suicide, self-harm, eating disorders, restraints

 

❝And yet, I still don’t believe that they would have changed anything. 


The terrifying part about my story with psychiatric trauma is that this is not a unique story. There are so many children and adolescents (and adults!) experiencing what I went through, right now, as you read this. 

TW: physical abuse

Lyllie's Story
 

❝They beat me to the point where when I discharged they had to call an ambulance to get EMTs to put me on a gurney and take me to a hospital... I couldn't walk.

 

A third of my leg was black. Just straight up black, not even other bruise colors, just black. And that was just my leg.

TW: self-harm, restraints, sexual assault

Jo's Story
 

 

During my wait, there was no support so I continued to fall apart and take harmful actions (towards myself and security)...

 

They would also do body checks while five grown men held me down. That included changing my clothes and searching in private areas. I was bruised, bleeding, and restrained after all these interactions. ❞

Anonymous Story (I)
 

TW: suicide, restraints

 

They talked over me... and told the nurses to inject me faster so that everyone could leave.

One of the security people said: "every time you struggle, I will make you feel some pain," and he would dig all his weight into my legs while I was screaming.❞

Anonymous Story (II)
 

TW: suicide, restraints, vomit

 

❝My jaw and neck locked and I stopped screaming and just began to silently cry... Yet since I was in restraints, I couldn't sit up to clear my throat either. I started to choke.

That's when they finally let me up. Not when I was crying for help. But when I finally began to choke.❞

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TW: suicide, self-harm, eating disorders, restraints

Maya's Story
 

If I received a more humane, compassionate treatment approach to help me stop self harming rather than restraints, perhaps I would have less trauma, fewer re-hospitalizations. 

No one in the mental healthcare system deserves to be treated with violence, inhumanity, or abuse. 

I miss who I was before the hospital, and it makes me sad that I will never get her back.❞

Anonymous Story (VIII)

TW: suicide, self-harm, restraints, eating disorders, sexual assault, vomit

❝I need to hope that the system can change otherwise the people stuck there are helpless and hopeless. They are not lost causes, they are not objects to be placed in a facility that will ignore and abuse them, they are not “too sick” to be helped. They are people with families, friends, loved ones, pets, partners, and children, not animals to be dragged through hallways by their hair or mannequins to be tossed around with no regard for their humanity. 


Mental illness is easy to refute, simple to ignore, and painless to mistreat if you don’t care about the bigger picture. It is not as easy to treat as a cough or a broken leg and it is easy to pretend it doesn’t exist. Mental illness exists. We exist, and we need better help than what we’ve been getting. 


I am forced to have hope in the system for anyone who the system has failed, but also everyone who survived and thrived. Even for the people who may not know or understand but can sympathize, even the people who don’t believe in mental illness and need the education about this that so few receive. Mental health impacts everything.
I am forced to have hope in the system for them.❞

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Armita's Story

TW: suicide

❝It’s sickening how [psychiatric hospital staff] get to blame their failure as professionals on us – on the ones that they’ve failed.❞

My dog and I hiking!

Myles's Story

TW: restraints, physical abuse

❝My arms were turning black and my ribs were broken from the chest strap. And the next day he tried to press charges because I had hit him (which I did), after he hit me.❞

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Toni's Story

TW: restraints, eating disorders

❝While some aspects were okay, I still have haunting memories; a thirteen year old girl being forcefully woken up and held down for her blood to be taken, screaming for her mom.❞

Anonymous Story (III)

TW: suicide, self-harm

❝I was isolated for 9 days. Isolation is supposed to only last for a day or two tops, and only for reasons if the person is violent to everyone else.❞

Anonymous Story (IV)

TW: eating disorders

❝I only spent a week in psychiatric care but it was enough for me to know that the system was broken and that kids were collateral.❞

Ruxandra's Story

TW: suicide, self-harm

❝I was so mad – they had no empathy, and of course they invalidated people... When I got home I was more hopeless and broken than I was before.❞

Anonymous Story (V)

TW: restraints, sexual assault 

They had a thirteen-year-old’s head, ankles, and arms strapped to a chair tight enough to leave cuts and marks.

Elliot's Story

TW: suicide, restraints,

sexual assault

❝They would strap me down to a bed and give me a tranquilizer every chance they got.❞

Debby's Story

TW: restraints, eating disorders,

sexual assault 

❝I have so many more stories, all of which have caused me and fellow patients a great deal of pain. I really do hope that changes are made to this system.❞

Anonymous Story (VI)

TW: suicide, physical abuse

❝I haven't attempted on my life since because I'm terrified of the consequences of surviving. I don't want to be punished for managing to stay alive. Not again.❞

Raine's Story

TW: restraints, sexual assault

❝I have been in the hospital seventeen times in total and I am still traumatized about it... I refuse to go back even though sometimes I feel like I need it.❞

Vanessa's Story

TW: eating disorders, physical abuse, drug abuse

❝I went there needing help and safety, and I was given nothing. It made me not want to ever open up to anyone again... In this system, there are right answers and wrong answers.❞

Anonymous Story (VII)

TW: suicide, restraints, sexual assault

❝I left with more trauma than when I went in. I was sexually assaulted by a staff member and was too afraid to report it. I had seen multiple kids being coded, restrained, and sedated on the daily, including myself.❞

Fawn's Story

TW: suicide, sexual assault

❝I was told if my rights ever felt violated, I could call a number. I did many times but no one answered, and the nurses would stare at me.❞

Finley's Story

TW: restraints, sexual assault

❝They took away every coping mechanism we had so we could "think about our actions." Even if we didn't do anything wrong, we had to comply or we'd be physically restrained and given a tranquilizer.❞

Anonymous Story (IX)

TW: suicide, self-harm, eating disorders, sexual assault

❝I hated it there –– I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy –– and I pray that the kids there are being treated better, but I know that’s not the case.❞

Anonymous Story (X)

TW: suicide, restraints, grooming

❝He didn’t touch me physically, though he did make slight gestures... Many kids spoke about how weird we were as well... But I thought it was all friendly. Now it might be the opposite. ❞

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