In November 2014, my nurse practitioner called an ambulance to her office to have me escorted to the hospital for suicidal ideation. No one in my family was told the real reason why I was going – I said I was having tests done and to please leave me alone. Despite my mother’s endless calls to the office to find out information, my nurse practitioner revealed nothing. It made my mother so angry that she actually became threatening. Fortunately, my nurse practitioner knew that my mother was my abuser and saw right through her bullshit and kept my privacy intact.
My experience in the hospital, however, was a different story. Before I even made it to the psychiatric floor, my mother already knew I was admitted to the hospital and to which exact psychiatric unit. She had already placed several calls before I even got there. I did not want my family to know where I was. I needed to feel safe more than ever, and that was taken away from me.
My mother continued to call the hospital dozens of times a day, despite my outright denial to speak to her. Some of the nurses provided her with information on my status. This was after I made it clear that I wanted my family to have no information about me. I was 28 years old and a fully capable adult. My emergency contact was someone who maintained no contact with my family, and I instructed the staff that any issues concerning my care should go through that person and no one else. The social workers and nurses were aware that my mother was my abuser – I was open about that during our initial meeting the day after I was admitted. Yet still, my mother was allowed to call and allowed to gather information about me. The hospital would not release me unless my parents picked me up. They literally sent me right back into the hands of my abusers.
The same issues (and then some) occurred in my subsequent hospitalizations. The second time I was hospitalized, I admitted myself. I took a cab to the emergency room after work without telling anyone where I was going. As I laid on a bed in the hallway of the ER, I saw my parents approaching the front desk. I started to panic and asked the watcher if I could hide, but obviously I couldn’t. Within minutes, I saw my mother approaching my bed from the other side of the hallway. I turned towards the wall and hid myself in the sheet, refusing to talk, and struggling to catch my breath from the panic attack I was having. My parents continued to talk and I continued to ignore them, banging my head against the wall to make them go away. After a few minutes, I felt the anger in my father’s voice when he told me “I don’t know why you are doing this to us” and then walked away.
During that whole time, I just wanted someone to make them go away. Why did they tell my parents where I was in the first place? Why did I have no right to privacy or confidentiality? I wanted the watcher or the nurse to see my panic, to sense my pain, but no one noticed. Once again, when I needed to feel safe, that was taken away from me.
As my second hospitalization ended, I was released at night and the nurse called a taxi so I could get home. Freedom. I contemplated going to a motel, but I still had so much fear inside and ended up going home. As I walked up the last landing before our apartment, I could hear my parents arguing. Apparently my mother found out that I left during one of her many calls. My parents were furious. I could hear my father screaming that there would be no more secrets in his house. There was so much irony in that statement, since my whole existence and our family’s existence was built on secrets. He just didn’t like it when HE didn’t know something.
I knew as I unlocked the door that night, that I would be walking into a shitstorm. I wish so badly I would have gone to a hotel instead. I wonder if I would have been able to escape the pain and the heartbreak that continued for months after until I finally moved away. I wonder if I could have avoided that third hospitalization had I just not gone home that night and ran away forever.
I feel like I was wronged. The hospital continually violated my privacy and put me at risk by allowing my abusers access to me and to my information. Why is there an automatic assumption that, because someone is family, that he or she is a safe person and should be given access to information? Something isn’t right here, and I can’t be the only one who this has happened to.
If I was a minor when I was hospitalized, my mother would have never been given access once I revealed her as my abuser. People don’t realize that child abuse continues into adulthood. They didn’t see the severity of my situation. They only made it worse by handing me right back over to them, again and again. I will admit, my social worker was concerned about sending me back to them – but her hands were tied. There is no help for adult victims of continued child abuse. We continue to be abused by our families as well as the system.
I’ve been failed. We’ve been failed. Something needs to change.