Sunday, October 25, 2009

Violence in the lives of people with disabilities

Gosh, I hardly finish publishing a blog about music therapists getting hurt on the job and I hear this on the news. It's truly a horrible, often hidden epidemic, and it must be stopped.

FLATBUSH (WABC) -- There are allegations of abuse Sunday against a state-certified care facility in Brooklyn.

The family of a 43-year-old mentally and physically challenged man claim he was brutally assaulted at the Institute of Community Living in Flatbush, and no one is saying how it happened.
Kimberly Creary is determined to get to the bottom of things, how and why her mentally challenged brother, Colbert, ended up hurt.
"His eye was closed, purple and burgundy, it was horrible," she said.
Colbert, who has limited speech, has lived at the Institute of Community Living for 15 years. The small, state-run facility houses those with mental and physical disabilities.

Kimberly got a call from staff on September 23, saying Colbert had been rushed to Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, suffering from an eye abrasion. But when she saw him, she was stunned.
"They don't know what happened," she said. "They told me he got up in the morning, took a shower and was fine and came to downstairs with eye like that."
Darrel Creary remembers his uncle being very agitated.
"He was very angry, pushing everyone away," he said. "I tried to feed him, and he wasn't trying to have that."
Frustrated, Kimberly called police. Officers from the 67th Precinct went to the facility, but Kimberly says staff told them that Colbert was not able to talk and was sleeping. So the officers left.
Then, a preliminary investigation by the state indicated that a worker had been placed on administrative leave, although it's not clear why.
The facility says that because of confidentiality laws, it could not discuss the matter. But Kimberly believes there is more to this story, possible criminal negligence and assault. She is meeting with the district attorney Monday.

No matter how many people in staff and support positions get hurt doing this work, folks with disabilities are way more vulnerable to abuse. I'm not saying it's okay that anyone gets hurt, but this is a difficult reality, and it needs to keep being noticed and brought out into the open so it can stop happening.


Anonymous said...

That is not the first case of abuse at that house; there are other unreported incidents in which the consumers have been physically as well as verbally abused by the staff. The managers are aware of the cases and they continue to cover things up because of on - going intimate relationships between the senior staff and the direct care staff. A further investigation of this house should be done to ensure the safety of the remaining consumers in that house. There was also a recent passing of a residence in that house that seems suspicious. I am glad that a family has finally come forward because; the treatment of these individuals by certain staff members is horrific.

Roia said...

Thanks for your comment. I'm not surprised. There is often a culture of abuse that becomes the "norm" in facilities such as this. I too was very pleased to see his family speak out against this. I hope their efforts are effective and that safety and serious changes come about as a result.

Michelle Erfurt said...

Wow, what a horrible story. Please keep us updated on any new developments, Roia.