Society’s increased awareness of mental health is a net positive. The more we understand mental illness, the better we can take care of patients. Entering an inpatient psychiatric hospital can be a brave and necessary step—but all too often, patients report sexual abuse during their stay. Psychiatric residents are one of Ohio’s most vulnerable populations, and deserve to be protected.
How does sexual abuse happen in inpatient programs?
Dr. Brian Barnett, MD, wrote that there are several causes of sexual abuse in mental health facilities: mental illnesses that erode good judgement and decision-making, low budgets and bare-bones staffing.
For instance, “Poor insurer reimbursement for mental health care means that many psychiatric units are managed with barebones staffing levels, leaving many opportunities for assaults to occur. A further complication is…there are sexual predators among psychiatric inpatients awaiting an opportunity to prey upon the vulnerable. They soon find that their fellow patients…make some of the easiest targets due to their shattered judgment, inability to advocate for themselves, and the ease with which authorities can dismiss them.”
Staff may also perpetrate sexual assaults. Patients are often afraid to report their sexual assaults out of fear they will not be believed. It’s estimated that a significant portion of sexual assaults are never reported due to patients’ shame and vulnerability. Furthermore, staff members may be reluctant to report any assaults they’ve witnessed, whether from desensitization, fear of retaliation or fear of civil suits.
What can be done?
If you or a loved one have been the victim of sexual abuse in a mental health facility, there may be help available. First, report your assault to the authorities, even if it has been years. You may want to write down all the details you can remember before visiting law enforcement, since reporting an assault can be an emotionally difficult process.
Second, call the Law Offices of Tim Misny. No one should have to suffer abuse while healing from mental illness. Even if law enforcement declines to prosecute, we can review your case and tell you whether a civil claim is likely to succeed. Depending on the circumstances of your case, the facility could be responsible for your assault. We may be able to help you get economic and noneconomic damages, which can cover the cost of medical and further mental health treatment, pain and suffering and more.
Discuss your personal injury claim with an Ohio lawyer
If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence or recklessness, I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call me today at 877.483.2298 for a consultation. I’ll work to get what you deserve.