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Health Care Women Int. 1999 Jul-Aug;20(4):401-16.

The experience of hospitalization and restraint of women who have a history of childhood sexual abuse.

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  • 1Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Within psychiatric settings, many female clients report experiences of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). In this paper we explore the experience of 10 women who were hospitalized in psychiatric settings, restrained, and given forced medication (FM). All the women have histories that included CSA. Some authors have suggested that the experience of psychiatric hospitalization may represent an event that reenacts the experience of trauma. The results suggest that from the perspective of these women, the experience of restraint engendered traumatic emotional reactions such as fear, anxiety, and rage, and in no way was viewed as therapeutic even years later. Women felt powerless and unheard. The women wanted nurses who were empathic and responsive to their human needs as clients, but they felt nurses did not want to hear about the abuse or their internal distress. We hope that the perspective of these women will help in the consideration of alternatives and modifications to the use of restraint in psychiatric settings.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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