A former trainee nurse has spoken of suffering through 12 years of electroshock therapy and a concoction of drugs, for being gay.
Joan Bellingham, now 68, has spoken at a Royal Commission in New Zealand about her experience during the 1970’s when she first started training as a nurse at the Burwood Hospital in Christchurch.
During her training, at the age of 18, the fact she was gay became a contentious issue for tutors and students, to such an extent that she was moved to another hospital for treatment.
“I was told I needed treatment and was taken to Princess Margaret Hospital that same day, no clothes or anything, and no choice in the matter,” Bellingham told the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care. “I didn’t realise it at the time I’d spend the next 12 or so years there.”
It was to be the end of her nursing career and she would be subjected to sustained abuse including the “excessive” amounts of drugs that she was given daily and the electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) sessions, more than 200 of them, that were given to her without explanation and against her will.
“It felt like razor blades going through my body,” Bellingham said.
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