VJP Swan Speakout - "Denizen of The Back Ward"

Submitted by admin on Sat, 12/18/2010 - 22:32

Read the entire memoir here:



A little about me:
Married, two grown sons. Relocated from Pasadena, California to Conyers, Georgia in 2007
Contact me at: verlapacheco(at)yahoo(dot)com


M.A. in psychology, California State University, Los Angeles, 1998
Works included in "She" an anthology of women's poetry, U.C. Berkeley
About my story:
I was the victim of involuntary psychiatric hospitalization May 27-29, 2009.  No history of mental illness, no criminal history, no history of violence. Believing that this was some sort of administrative or legal blunder, I futily sought assistance.  Dozens of disappointments later, I realized that I had been raped by a system that assumed guilt in the absence of a crime. No rape shield law existed to protect me. Hiding my humiliation by withdrawing into the shadows was the only balm for my defilement. I poked my head out many times, preferring to believe that justice would eventually prevail. To my dismay I learned that my rapists were shielded behind nebulous laws designed to give them carte blanche over my life. My determination to fight has overcome my pain, and David is determined to face Goliath. My sling is the pen, my stone is the truth, and vindication is my catharsis. Therefore, I must either write or lose my integrity once again in the shadows of my shame. There are no other options...



On the morning of Wednesday May 27, 2009 my husband and I went to the Peach State Center for what I believed was a couples counseling session. My husband had set the 8 AM appointment, but upon checking in, the receptionist directed her questions about the appointment at me. Curious as to the reason for this focus, I asked why this was, but got no logical answer. Dr. Mahmud then appeared at the door leading to the exam rooms and conducted my husband and I to her office. Once seated, Dr. Mahmud started what I knew was a psychiatric assessment, i.e., was I having thoughts of suicide, rushing thoughts, etc.  I again asked why the questions were directed at me and Dr. Mahmud told me that my husband believed that I needed to be on medication.  The reason given was that I supposedly threatened to jump over a bannister two weeks prior.  Nothing could have been further from the truth, and I felt betrayed by my husband's dishonesty.  Dr. Mahmud apparently anticipated a mentally ill, suicidal woman, and it was clear that  my marital problems were deeper than I had ever imagined.   How would I be able to validate my knowledge of my own emotional stability when a  predetermined, quasi-scientific template of psychiatric diagnosis threatened to to undermine my own perception?  I noticed that the doctor had nothing resembling a patient file on her desk, and I immediately wondered how she could come to any sort of conclusion about my overall state of mind without them. This  was alarming, and I had the frightening feeling that whatever diagnosis she was obviously pressing for would be a faulty construct at best.