This week on MIA Radio we interview Sera Davidow, a psychiatric survivor and prolific activist for the human rights of people labeled mentally ill. Sera serves as the Director of the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community and is a founding member of the Hearing Voices USA Board of Directors.
Through her work, she has gained a range of experiences including starting up a peer respite, opening resource centers, and producing educational materials on non-coercive, non-pathologizing alternatives to the traditional mental health system. Sera is a regular blogger for Mad in America and has written extensively on the topics of forced treatment and sexual violence.
In this interview, we discuss the parallels and intersections between coercive psychiatric care and sexual assault.
In this episode we discuss:
- Sera’s lived experience as a psychiatric survivor and survivor of sexual violence.
- The similarities between sexual violence and forms of psychiatric abuse including forced drugging, forced intubation, forced catheterization, strip searches, restraint, and containment.
- How even seemingly minor or routine parts of psychiatric hospitalization, such as regularly monitoring patients, can be violating.
- The role that victim-blaming and gaslighting play in both sexual violence and psychiatric coercion.
- That the language and terminology of the mental health system such as “mental illness,” “noncompliance,” and “anosognosia” serve to perpetuate violence.
- That people’s discomfort with big emotions and taboo topics often prevent trauma survivors from speaking about their experiences within psychiatric settings.
- How we can help providers and the general public understand the trauma and violence of psychiatric coercion.
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