Memorial Wall : victims of institutional abuse

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This Memorial Wall is our tributes to those who have died as a result of child abuse, domestic violence, rape, religious abuse, or other types of abuse. Some of these people we knew personally, others we only heard of. Abuse is not a theoretical concept, it happens to real people, and costs lives. It's important to honor those we lost to abuse by telling their stories, so that the secret that killed them does not remain secret, and so that other lives might be saved, as a result of increased awareness.
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October 3rd:
Danny Chen
died on October 3rd, 2011

19yo Danny from Chinaton, NYC, was a US soldier bullied to death by his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan. He was the youngest, it was his first deployment, and he was the only Asian-American in his platoon. "People here are leaving left and right now, everyone is getting stress fractures and broken legs," he wrote. "All of the weaker people have either left or gone home for 30 days to heal. Now I'm the weakest one left." They called him "gook," "chink," "dragon lady." They forced him to do sprints while carrying a sandbag. They ordered him to crawl along gravel-covered ground while they flung rocks at him. And one day, when his unit was assembling a tent, he was forced to wear a green hard-hat and shout out instructions to his fellow soldiers in Chinese. After he was thrown rocks at, another soldier asked Danny if he was OK. Danny replied, "No sweat," and then shot himself.


Posted by Manya on March 5th, 2016
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October 13th:
Sean McIlmail
died on October 13th, 2013

Sean was a 26yo man from Pennsylvania, USA, who was abused by a Catholic priest as a teenager. He kept it secret and escaped into drugs, until more victims started to come forward but the police couldn't press charges because statutes of limitations have ran out. Sean came forward and reported his story to protect children (particularly his nephews) from being abused by the same priest that abused Sean. He was clean and sober for 6 month (the lawyer wouldn't take the case otherwise), and was preparing to testify, but days before that he died of heroin overdose. "The drug piece is unbelievably common," says David Clohessy, national director of SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests). "The indirect disclosures are surprisingly common. The law enforcement involvement is painfully rare."

"I'm not mad at [the priest who raped Sean], because I think he's sick," said Sean's mother. "I'm angry at the church for letting him serve so long and covering it up." She also said of the Pope Francis' upcoming visit, "He's coming to Philadelphia, which is so bad with priest abuse. He's seeing the poor, the immigrants, the prisoners, all of which wasn't the church's fault. But it is the church's fault that we have this segment of the population that's drug-addicted and has all these mental health problems."


Posted by Manya on March 5th, 2016
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October 31st:
Autumn Elgersma
died on October 31st, 2013

Autumn suffered a skull fracture and brain trauma while in Sapp's care on Oct. 29. Autumn died two days later at a Sioux Falls hospital. Police have said that Sapp who ran the day care centre originally told investigators the child fell down the stairs at her daycare facility. They later determined that the girl's injuries were not consistent with that type of fall and that Sapp then admitted to throwing the child to the floor. Autumn's parents Phillip and Jennifer paid an emotional tribute to their beloved daughter at the time of her death. ‘Autumn was a joy in our lives and we are blessed to have called her ours. Sapp pleaded guilty to three counts resulting in a 100 year sentence.


Posted by Jane on June 17th, 2018
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November 22nd:
Ivy Atkin
died on November 22nd, 2012

86yo Ivy Atkin from Nottinghamshire, UK, died as a result of abuse in the carehome she was placed in for only 48 days. Lead investigator said, "Sherwood Rise Ltd took on responsibility for a number of elderly people who should be well cared for and should be trusted to look after them. This is not a case where they, and the director and manager Mohammed Khan, have let standards slip slightly. Standards were almost non-existent. As far as Ivy Atkin was concerned, there were appalling failures to provide her with the care she deserved. She spent 48 days inside that care home and during that time her health plummeted. When she was eventually rescued - and that's the word we have used throughout the investigation - she was emaciated, she was dehydrated, she was malnourished and she had the most horrific bed sore to the lower part of her back which had plainly not been cared for. It is right that people have been brought to justice over her death and this case shows that the care of the elderly and vulnerable is not something that people should take lightly." Ivy Atkin's case was, nationally, the first conviction of corporate manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter together.


Posted by Manya on March 5th, 2016
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November 27th:
Eleanore Tibble
died on November 27th, 2000

Eleanore joined Australian Defence Force as a cadet when she was 14. She was sexually abused by her superior officer (30yo guy), and told to either resign or get dishonorably discharged. On November 12th a wing commander decided that she should not be charged with fraternization - but nobody updated 15yo Eleanore on this decision. Two weeks later she committed suicide. Her mom said, "Not a day goes by that I don't think about my daughter and the abject waste of her life. She died probably thinking she was doing something honourable, saving her family the shame of a dishonourable discharge."


Posted by Manya on July 5th, 2016
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December 6th:
Aaron Leafe
died on December 6th, 2010

15yo Aaron from UK was sexually abused in a home for troubled youth where he was placed because of ADHD and Asperger's Syndrome. Six weeks before his death he reported the man who was abusing him and recorded a 93-minute police interview (which later served as a basis for the man's conviction). "Anwar always pressured me into having sex with him," Aaron said. "I didn't want to do it. He gave me money. He got me a flat. He let me drive his car. He bought me cigarettes and cannabis. I was scared of him. I just did what I was told. That's why I did it." On December 6th Aaron said goodbyes to his family, put on the suit that he was going to wear in court, and hung himself. He left a note saying, "I can't get over what happened with me and Anwar. I hate him so much."


Posted by Manya on June 17th, 2018
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March 2nd:
Nicholaus Contreraz
died on March 2nd, 1998

Nicolaus (16yo) died of abuse and medical neglect at Arizona Boys Ranch bootcamp, where he was sent for shoplifting.

He had asthma, and was complaining of nausea, diarrhea, and chest pain. The staff believed he was faking it, so they restricted his use of inhalers and were making him do physical exercises till he fainted, punched him, shoved him against walls, and denied him the right to use the bathroom. Eventually he became unable to control his bladder and bowels, and vomited frequently. As a result, they made him sleep in the bathroom in his soiled clothes, and carry around a bucket with his waste (over which he was forced to do pushups).

Quote from Wikipedia:
On March 2, the day he died, he had collapsed repeatedly. He was told he "deserved an Academy Award", thrown to the ground, forced to do pushups, and bounced off a wall. Another boy was ordered to push him around in a wheelbarrow while Contreraz was ordered to mimic the sound of an ambulance siren. He continued to be accused by staff of faking his condition. At around 5:30 pm, he collapsed for the last time. According to witnesses later interviewed by Arizona Child Protective Services, after his final collapse and inability to move, he was ordered by staff to get up, to which he simply replied "No", which was his last spoken word. He was pronounced dead two hours later.

Nicolaus had a collapsed lung, massive lung infection from inhaling vomit, two and a half quarts of puss caused by staphylococcus (from doing pushups over raw waste), blood in his stomach, and 71 cuts and bruises. Cause of death was cardiac arrest.

The day before he died, he was heard saying "Lord, help me, I need help, I need help..."


Posted by Manya on March 17th, 2015
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Lee William Mirecki
died on March 2nd, 1988

Lee William Mirecki was a 19-year-old United States Navy Airman Recruit who was killed during a military training exercise on March 2, 1988. His death became a focus point for those campaigning against bullying in military training regimes. Following on his death a number of policies and guidelines within the Navy's training programs were changed. He is named in the documentation supporting these changes.


Posted by Jane on July 25th, 2018
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March 16th:
James Levier
died on March 16th, 2001

60yo Mr Levier from Maine, USA, lost his hearing when he was about 6 years old, and his parents sent him to the Baxter School for the Deaf, a state-run boarding school, so that he could learn sign language and get an education. He was sexually abused by staff there. Sexual abuse in schools for the deaf is widespread because the children have extra difficulties reaching out for help. Here's how one survivor explains it:

"There was a busy road with a playground and there'd be people walking past but we had no communication because we couldn't speak, we couldn't sign and they couldn't understand our voices. We'd try and write notes but our vocabulary was limited. The only word we knew was 'rude'. We'd make paper aeroplanes and throw them. People would pick them up, laugh and wave and go on their way and we would feel frustrated."

Mr Levier left the school at 17, married and had two daughters, enjoyed hiking in the woods, painting, carving, and even volunteered as an art teacher at Baxter. Still, he struggled emotionally and tried to kill himself several times. Mr Levier wanted justice for himself and other survivors of the school. Multiple abuse allegations against the school were corroborated by the police investigation, but no charges were pressed due to the statute of limitations. On March 7th, a spokesman for then-Gov. Angus King testified that there was no money budgeted to pay victims and questioned the appropriateness of an official apology. Nine days later Mr Levier commited suicide by cop. Within days, Gov. King issued an apology to the state's deaf community for the abuse that had occurred at Baxter years before. The Legislature also began approving compensation for victims, ultimately appropriating more than $17 million.


Posted by Manya on July 29th, 2016
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March 18th:
Raheel Siddiqui
died on March 18th, 2016

Minutes before Raheel Siddiqui, a Muslim Marine recruit, jumped to his death during the early phases of boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., he was hazed and struck by his drill instructor, Marine Corps officials said Thursday. Raheel, 20, a Pakistani American arrived at Parris Island on March 7 and had been with his training company for only a day when he reported on March 13 that he wanted to commit suicide, Marine officials said. The first week or so of Marine boot camp is known as “forming” and involves recruits going through a series of medical evaluations and uniform issues before training. After forming, recruits are “picked up” by their drill instructors in an infamous ceremony that introduces recruits to their company and the intensity of recruit training. Raheel told his drill instructor that his throat hurt, officials said, and after failing to respond to the drill instructor, he fell to the floor, apparently in pain. When Raheel continued to not respond, the drill instructor “forcefully” slapped him between one and three times. He then ran down the length of the barracks and vaulted a railing, falling to his death. It is against training regulations for a drill instructor to strike a recruit. The drill instructor who officials say hazed and slapped Raheel had already been under investigation in connection with the ill treatment of another Muslim recruit and for reportedly consuming alcohol around the trainees.


Posted by Jane on July 4th, 2018
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March 31st:
Aaron Bacon
died on March 31st, 1994

Aaron was a 16yo boy from South California who asked his parents to transfer him to a public school because he felt his private school "wasn't providing enough socioeconomic diversity." He was a bright kid, wrote poetry, but soon after the school transfer he was caught smoking pot and was suspected of affiliating with a school gang (though he vehemently denied it). Parents panicked, took out a second mortgage, and sent Aaron to a North Star wilderness therapy program, costing $13,900 for a 63-day course, plus another $775 to have Aaron surprised at 1Am by being dragged out of his bed barefoot and forcibly "escorted" to location (something North Star strongly recommended).

Out of 20 days on the trail, Aaron had been forced to go without a sleeping bag for 14 days, without a blanket for 4 days (three of which were marked by below-freezing temperatures), and without food for 11 days, plus four days on which he had only meal, and one day on which his only food was a lizard and a scorpion. Aaron soiled himself uncontrollably, was unable to walk, see, or hear, and other kids in the group said that he looked "like he was from Auschwitz or Ethiopia," yet the camp counselors felt he was faking it till he died.

Here's one of Aaron's poems:

Dreaming with a heart full of wonder
And a mind full of knowledge
Our thirst for life and love
Does not set with the sun behind us.


Posted by Manya on October 17th, 2015
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