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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.


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."



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's Senior Photo 3.jpg

Mira's Story

TW: suicide, self-harm, eating disorders, restraints, seclusion, injections, feeding tubes

❝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. ❞


Lyn's Story

TW: suicide, self-harm, eating disorders, restraints, injections, feeding tubes


❝My therapist recently told me: “These treatment centers don’t seem to care until someone dies under their care.” That could have been me. 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: suicide, self-harm, eating disorders, restraints, seclusion, injections, feeding tubes

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.❞

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, seclusion, injections

Jo's Story


❝They picked me up and dragged me in. I was terrified, so I fought back. They held me down on the floor of the “quiet room”.

While being held down by all men, I was searched. That included having someone reach their hands in my crotch and check that I wasn't hiding anything. I was screaming and crying because that was so terrifying.❞

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, injections, 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.❞

Kat photo 1.jpg

TW: restraints, physical abuse, injections

Kat's Story


❝My family has been forced to pay thousands of dollars for trauma therapy. I now need a service dog in order to be able to enter any type of hospital or doctor's office.


I'll probably never be the same again. I have terrible panic attacks and nightmares every night. All because hospital staff chose to abuse a fifteen-year-old girl who only came there for help.


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.❞


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, restraints, seclusion

❝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.❞

Anonymous Story (V)

TW: restraints, sexual assault, seclusion

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

Ruxandra's Story

TW: suicide, self-harm, seclusion

❝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.❞

Elliot's Story

TW: suicide, restraints,

sexual assault, injections

❝At ten-years-old, I was stripped completely naked, and prison searched by two male nurses.❞

Debby's Story

TW: restraints, eating disorders,

sexual assault, feeding tubes

❝I have so many more stories, all of which have caused me and fellow patients a great deal of pain.❞

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.❞

Raine's Story

TW: restraints, sexual assault, grooming

❝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, seclusion, 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 (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.❞

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.❞

Finley's Story

TW: restraints, sexual assault, injections

❝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 (VIII)

TW: suicide, self-harm, restraints, eating disorders, sexual assault, seclusion, injections, 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.❞

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. ❞

Anonymous Story (XI)

TW: suicide, eating disorders

❝It just reminded me that, no matter where I go, I’ll always be treated differently for not being white. Even in places where I’m supposed to receive the most support.

Anonymous Story (XII)

TW: restraints, seclusion

❝She was begging me for my help and I couldn’t help, all I could do is sit there with tears welling up in my eyes as the nurses went on to make fun at her.❞

Anonymous Story (XIII)

TW: suicide, self-harm, restraints

❝I could only keep my one stuffed animal and was forced barefoot into an old police car. There was a chain fence between me and the driver. The seats were plastic and nobody told me how far away I was going, or really where I was going.❞

See full text

Anonymous Story (XIV)

TW: suicide, seclusion

❝She told me “when I came back” that I will be isolated. What hurt the most was that she expected me to come back...

I’m still struggling, maybe worse than I was when I was hospitalized, but I’m never going back to the psych unit.

Anonymous Story (XV)

TW: suicide

❝She attempted to convince staff and therapists at the inpatient facility that she was both safe and stable, but because she wouldn’t tell the staff what they wanted to hear –– that she had actually been trying to attempt suicide –– she spent nearly two weeks there away from her daughter and partner.

Anonymous Story (XVI)

TW: self-harm, restraints, seclusion, injections

❝For my first two days there, I was having an anxiety attack. Multiple times during this I was partially restrained by staff, threatened to be sent into seclusion if I didn't stop crying, and told I was "disrupting other patients,” simply by crying. The staff would frequently laugh at the terrified look on my face.❞

Anonymous Story (XV)

❝As a result of her being truthful to her healthcare team about her history, she was admitted to inpatient unnecessarily and against her will.

Anonymous Story (XVI)

TW: self-harm, restraints, seclusion

❝The staff would frequently laugh at the terrified look on my face…I will never, ever, forget my stays there. And if I can help it, I'm never going back.

Anonymous Story (XVII)

TW: eating disorders, sexual assault, injections

❝When I was having a panic attack because of him they sedated me against my will and did not inform my parents. I was not showing any aggression or lashing out. I was legitimately curled up in a ball on the floor.

Anonymous Story (XVIII)

❝I've always wanted to share my experience, I even did share it with some "investigating" person but they never like really did anything about it. What I witnessed was seriously unfair and unjust. ❞


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