Mental Help Net
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest NewsQuestions and AnswersBlog EntriesVideosLinksBook Reviews
Therapist Search
Find a Therapist:
 (USA/CAN only)

Use our Advanced Search to locate a therapist outside of North America.

Related Topics

Depression: Depression & Related Conditions
Domestic Violence and Rape
Self Esteem
Anger Management

Institutional Settings of Abuse and Hate Crimes

Kathryn Patricelli, MA Updated: Mar 16th 2016

Institutional Settings

In addition to abuse that occurs in the home, there are many institutional settings where abuse may take place. Sexual harassment and bullying may occur in the workplace. Peer bullying may occur in schools. Date rape and other forms of sexual assault may occur on college campuses and other settings in which dating and flirtatious behavior occur. All manner of people under institutional care, including mental patients, people with intellectual disabilities, nursing home patients, board and care residents, prisoners, and children in daycare may be abused. Abuse also occurs in religious settings, as is evidenced by the numerous sexual molestation abuse scandals within the Catholic church.

Hate Crimes

Hate crimes are another type of abuse, and one which can occur anywhere and any time. The most commonly publicized hate crimes are those perpetrated on particular ethnic groups (such as persons of Middle Eastern descent, or African-Americans), those based on sexual orientation (e.g., "gay-bashing"), and those due to religion (often aimed at Jewish and Islamic groups). Religious buildings, including churches, synagogues and mosques, are commonly targeted and vandalized. When targeted religious buildings serve particular ethnic or sexual-orientation groups, it is difficult to know if the target was the religious group itself, or their membership, or both. Hate crimes also regularly occur due to gender and disability status. Hate crimes may include verbal, physical or sexual abuse perpetrated on people or property destruction, including graffiti, cross-burning, and arson.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Me Too... - MadWomanInTheAttic - Mar 7th 2011

I too have experienced abuse from mental health services. I was treated by them for an acute depressive illness over a decade ago. Then a few years later I became a member of staff within the same service, gaining the job in part due to my own personal experience with mental illness. As a member of staff I experienced bullying and being treated differently by my manager. In short it was discrimination/stigma because I had once been a patient, therefore they found it hard to see me as a normal capable person. I was given too little work to do with the implication that I was incompetent (no concrete evidence/complaint ever made to show this belief of theirs) and when I was given work it was menial or unpleasant tasks; I felt like the office Cinderella. I was made to share a computer,when other staff were not and all kinds of other little things that built up over time, too many to mention here.

Then, after finally fleeing that job when I could take no more abuse, I was treated by counsellors frmo the same service. The first I saw was wonderful but the second one treated me abusively. I stopped seeing the second one and couldn't get to see the first one again. But I was so shocked by the second counsellor, the way she spoke to me and acted - she was playing some sort of weird power game and I knew it wasn't normal.

I found in both circumstances that the mental health services staff were the ones who were the real problem, not the patients! The inmates truly do run the asylums in many places and it's frightening!

JUst before I fled that job I began retraining in a different field that I had experience in prior to my original illness. My soul must have known that only months later I would be glad of that qualification and I am now taking baby steps towards becoming employed again after several years (Yes, that's how long it took me to get over it...!) using that qualification.

Back then my life seemed to come crashing down around my ears, especially when the one place I thought I would be free of discrimination was the mental health service that treated me years before. I was wrong!

But, the road goes on and I got through it. Just keep focusing on the end of that tunnel, knowing that there is always a light. The universe will support you if you are in the right, as in have been truthful and loving in your heart/good intentions - I've experienced this love from the universe first hand and all I can say is, wow! It comes in the form of loving people and great opportunities suddenly appearing all around you when before there were few. And karma my friends, something else I have experienced first hand! Karma ALWAYS has its way for good and for ill!!! Trust me ;) xxx

Institutional Abuse - Jennifer - Oct 15th 2008

Even tho I have not been abused by a professional, (but have been severely by a husband) I absolutely believe you because the mental health system is HORRIBLE! I know this from my experiences with them over the years I have gone and taken my children. I am so sorry, and just know that there ARE people who will believe you. They may not be able to help you, but at least you get what you be believed.  I dont even know you and I believe you.  If you ever decided to go back, or just wanted to try to do something about whats happening to people like you, TAKE A HIDDEN AUDIO OR VIDEO RECORDER! Talk to an attorney to see what can and cant be used as evidence in your state!  Wouldn't you love to see the look on one of those 'councelors' faces as they lie and you hold the proof in your hand?  Not only this, but I strongly believe in karma.  Know that what they have done WILL come back to them...its the way of the universe!

- - Sep 2nd 2007

I was gald when told I was going to go to hospital .I was ill .I coudlnt sleep and wasnt alright at home .It felt like a relief .Unfortunately when I got there .

I had pain .N one saw to it . I saw a psychiatrist with a dressing gown on one morning .He asked me whilst I was ill the reason I didntdo my hair.He also told me to tkae one of his papers to a desk .I am il though .Im the paitent .Un fortunatelyI dint get rest .I was made to get up .I needed rest .

My family shouted at me and dint help matters.Beofre then I was abused.I saw the health system as something to trust and would help .It didnt .

I have since been 3 times .

The last was the worst .Since being told lotsof things and being being allowed to do things myself and not being made well,as whati had was

tranqulizers which dont make people well only sleepy I was too well really .Funny enough .

I was too ill totake medicine myself and was shunned for being that ill .

I was forced to have medicine in the end becasue i was falling asleep with the medicine they gave me .

I didnt like that .I even asked one of the nurses would they force me to have it ," SHE said truthfully of course .nope ." .They did .

I was told i had schizophrenia at one time .I broke down and sobbed.What for? . I was told i had a breakdown at first with depression and anorexia .I didnt have schizophrenia .I was abused and ill andneed making well .But oh I was behaving stangely and had Schizophrenia .Of course i would behave silly if i was psychotic enough fomr abuse like a deranged monkey in a laboratory doing experimantal things .

In the end after leaving i had medicine and ended up pacing the floor .The medidcne was moving me too much and i couldnt keep still .I had to stop the Zyprexia .Who hoo .I was glad .

I piledweight on and i must say the health and stateon me relly did improve ,seeing that i was unhappy being so big and told what to do it really did .

Well ,I am more well i must admit since then .I dont try to do courses .I dont enjoy a walk out now and I dont feel as confidnet to do stuff .I dont even wish to go anywehre on my own and my independence has vanished slight l.Butim classed as alright for that .


I a, glad I dont have to stay in my room though over christmas not knowing whati was doing when i was seriously ill .But ddintget well becasue i had tranqulizers insteadof good medicnie .

Now i have employeed discriminating against me and telling me im ill for some reason .People ignoring you .Men calling you ,trying to make you more ill .The doctors dont wish to know if you go becasue your goging strange because people keep telling you to get lost .

I a glad you took the people to court .I would too if I could .

Too many mental paitents cant do any thing and have been stopped from doing so they cant fight back .

Some people are helped by theses doctors ,Ther are too many bent and nasty ones and too many peole who discriminate against them In a way it is like racial hate .


Reply to posting on Institutional proffesional abuse - rosalind marie wilson - Apr 24th 2007

I am writing in response to the woman whom recieved abuse from professionals within an institutionalised setting whom had mental illness whom was then scorned as having a twisted sense of reality or made to appear paranoid when she came to testify the judges disregarding her because she had mental illness in favour of others because of weighting notoriety support or professional status I have been in this situation and have been seriously violently physically and mentally harmed and can fully empathise with her view point in essence im sorry to say I have discovered there is no one and no way out. No one will ever believe you and those whom hurt you will always want to cover their tracks they have no respect or regard for you or your suffering because they are twisted themselves. They excuse their behaviour with your label oh she was ill she bought it on herself she is irrational ect almost as though you deserved what happened to you when that is not at all the case.

Institutions look after their own if there is anything I have ever learned it is that they cover their own mistakes their own backs and each other.

Like you I nearly died because I was isolated and there was no one. In terms of positivity i have some advice for you although obviously as I have stated there is no resolution.

Accept your victim status keep your sense of selve accept what those people did to you is wrong it will always be wrong accept your suffering and accept your victim status then learn to gain strength from the fact that you are surviving somehow you have the strength deep within you to keep going. Mental disability is not an excuse to harm someone or not treat them with equality and respect having a mental disability should not make you inferior but that is todays society and stereotypes such as the handful of violent or criminal traits that are out there magnified by the media take precedence which is unfair. So keep strong accept your status dont fight it and work on your coping stratagies.

Try not to become angry hurt defensive or bitter I have been down this road and it just acts as a reinforcement for negative views and opinions which is not what you need the kind of told you so attitude then you feel you let yourselve down even though it was just you trying to cope with cruelty and injustice.

I was violently mentally assaulted and physically degraded in a home I stayed in where I was supposed to be protected and safe it was covered up and my situation was neglected the mental scars this leaves never heal but they become gentler with time it is important you do have someone to speak with when you are afraid to go to proffessionals as they are the ones whom hurt you. What you need to do is perhaps in the first instance make sure you can talk support groups are good for empathy mind can send you a list there is also careline counselling support whom are good and the samaritains are good if you need to feel they are heard as they cannot judge you or make comments like you are mad paranoid or dellusional.

I know it hurts it hurts everyday knowing what you have suffered and you have no belief or recognition that you have had mental illness along the way but you are also essentially telling the truth and just need some help so no one can hurt you again and your helped to heal from what has already happened. Proffessionals sometimes feel that their own status is a given right to control a mentally ill person sometimes abuse occurs when that control is misused or falls into the wrong hands.

Keep strong keep your coping stratagies in place talk when you can I am sorry your situation is the same as mine it cannnot be resolved or healed because you have a mental health history and the proffessionals hold more power. You can go to the citizens advice bureaux and they can give you addresses of ombudsmen for the professional concerned these are groups at the top that deal with misconduct although I found when I tried this route that you just seem to recieve more of the same which is they cover their own and dont look at you as an individual but a labelled medical history tarnishing their perspective but it is worth a try if your feeling that taking no form of action is leaving you feeling helpless.

I have the uptmost respect for you, keep strong and be gentle on yourselve they may not know but I have walked in those moccasins and I do especially when you refer to being further hurt or punished for speaking out.

If you are abused again make sure you speak to someone you can trust or whom may really want to help hospital advocacy isn't too bad at least you feel you have someone beside you you can speak to your Hospital patient liason team then at least you know the Hospital is aware.

Hope I helped a little the world is not a fair place a brave woman whom was also mentally ill said this to me and I will leave this for you

This world is a horrible place if you have not cracked up in it then there must be something wrong with you.

Take care love to you.

Abuse by Professionals - Living In Fear - Jul 13th 2006
I have a history of abuse from childhood. One of the most important things for me is to be believed. I have also been abused by "Mental Health Professionals". In one way it was worse than what happened at home, because I trusted these people. Trust has never come easily for me. The people working with them helped cover up what happened. It is almost impossible to get anyone to believe you. The only ones who have believed me, either couldn't help or wouldn't help. You get dismissed as paranoid or worse. I spent a long time trying to right this and only got hurt more for the effort. As one lawyer said, they are "professionals", you are an agitated mental patient with a skewed sense of reality, who do you think will be believed? I trusted these people for over 4 years before this happened. This has had devastating affects for me. I doubt I would willingly see a doctor or go to a hospital again regardless of the results of not going. I need accountability from this system. Since this has happened I have met a lot of other folks with similar experiences. Exactly how do I and others like me get help? Why should I believe anyone when they say you can trust me? How do you get help if you can't trust and aren't believed?

Follow us on Twitter!

Find us on Facebook!

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.

Powered by CenterSite.Net