Friday, May 29, 2009

My Reply to Friends Hospital

Friends Hospital sent me an email three days ago (May 26) offering to investigate into my allegations of abuse. The following is my reply. It was sent via email just a few minutes ago (Fri, May 29, 2009 at 4:38 PM).


Thanks for contacting me and offering to perform an inquiry into my allegations of abuse. I only wish that your organization would have taken these steps sooner and on their own initiative rather than as a response to 17 days of sustained protesting outside your facility. It has now been more than four years since the abuse occurred, and not every victim of psychiatric abuse is going to want to endure the pain and embarrassment of broadcasting their victimization in such a public and apparently effective way. An organization like yours should not wait for a victim to go to such great lengths of seeking justice before getting involved. It should do a better job of self policing so that when a suspicious incident (such as the questionable sequence of events that transpired in my case) occurs, they will follow up with a thorough and immediate investigation. Better yet, they should have the mechanisms and procedural safeguards to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the first place. More than two years ago I tried to bring a civil suit (as a pro se plaintiff) against Friends Hospital and they hired an attorney who successfully had the case dismissed on legal shortcomings. If the high level administration \ board who hired the attorney wanted to, they could have initiated an inquiry into the allegations of abuse I described in my pleadings. Were these individuals interested in protecting the rights of abuse victims or merely in avoiding the monetary consequences of a civil proceeding? Your actions or lack thereof speak much louder than my words. I hope there is more motivating your current actions than merely PR considerations. As a facility that purports to be in the business of 'healing the mind', the welfare of your patients should have been the first and highest consideration, not a mere afterthought.

The second day of my protest, Friends Hospital did make an effort at responding. They sent out a security guard who after 20 minutes of observing me from his van came out yelling, trying to get me to leave my protest post. I was doing my best to ignore him, but then he threatened to call the police (even though I was on public property) and took out his cell. He succeeded in getting me to leave that day but I returned the next day and every day since and will be doing so for the remainder of my protest period. Why an organization would resort to such uncivil tactics to deal with abuse victims who speak out is beyond me, but please let anyone at the facility that thinks otherwise know that contrary to what happens within the closed doors of your facility, this is still a country that upholds civil rights and civil liberties, and that freedom of speech and the right to express dissent are fundamental aspects of those rights. Other forms of freedom, such as the right to be free from physical and psychological abuse are also rights that I hope your hospital staff can eventually be persuaded to recognize.

I apologize that my tone in this letter is less than cordial and I want to assure you that the coldness is not directed towards you personally. However, I can never be 'friends' with an institution that violates the most sacred and intrinsic rights that all human beings are entitled to. As far as the investigation, I want it to be rigorous and fully transparent. The 'closed door' type inquiry will not do. This is not an internal matter that concerns only you, but one that concerns the rights and welfare of psychiatric patients everywhere. I deserve to know the full details of the investigation (every step of the way) and the findings that result (every step of the way). I am not merely interested in the conclusion but I want to be kept up to date on all developments throughout the entire investigation process. Your patients deserve to know and so does the public. This is not going to be a one sided investigation conducted entirely at your discretion, but a collaborative one where the public and I will be fully active participants. We will conduct all correspondence via email so that there is a 'paper trail' and I will be posting the relevant content on the blog as it becomes available, so that this will indeed be a transparent and open process. For too long justice has been thwarted and the voice of abuse victims silenced and obscured by institutions such as yours. I will do my humanly best to see to it that it is no longer the case. If you wanted to do this investigation 'your way', you already had 4 years to do so. This investigation is not yours; it belongs to psychiatric survivors everywhere and it belongs to the public. I will be putting considerable time and effort into this process to see that it is properly carried out and meets all the objectives of rigor, transparency, and effectiveness, and I expect no less from you. Thanks in advance for your full and unconditional cooperation. I look forward to working with you.


Godly Mathew

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