Do you have an institutional horror story? Have you had negative experiences in public and private medical institutions, psychiatric medical institutions, or government institutions? Have you or has someone you know suffered injustices of any kind committed by those in and associated with the health sector, the government sector, the education sector, the mental health industry, or the criminal justice / court system, including but not limited to doctors, nurses, social workers, police officers, administrators, government officials, or judges? Have you been the victim of or witnessed sexual harassment or another kind of abuse in an institution? Have you experienced or witnessed institutional wrongdoing that went or continues to go under the radar?

Please consider sharing your story with us and consider sharing it with the world, either anonymously or self-disclosingly.

Institutional injustice occurs when systems break down and individual and collective mistakes are made. These mistakes, when they are not acknowledged or ameliorated publicly, can have catastrophic effects on people and communities.

When we witness injustice, we have a personal and public responsibility to tell the truth about it. This is what is known as whistleblowing.

By sharing your story, or parts of it, and by naming names (of institutions and individuals), you will engage in an act of public service, educating and informing the public about injustices that happen daily and are overlooked in governing offices, courtrooms, and public institutions. Your story will increase public awareness about the way in which institutional injustice functions in systems that aim but often fail to ensure fair, humane, and ethical standards.

By sharing your story, you create the possibility of encouraging others to come forward with similar stories. If you have been subjected to inhumane treatment or unethical behavior in the mental health industry, the criminal justice system, the education system, or the government / court system, chances are many other people have, too.

Unless and until institutions and individuals are forced to acknowledge their wrongdoing and their missteps, they will continue to behave unethically and to profit off of the subjugation of others.

Accountability matters. Power must be kept in check, institutions must be regulated, and behaviors of individuals within institutions must be accounted for, particularly within institutions that close their doors to the public eye, such as psychiatric ones.

There may be avenues for you to pursue justice, even if you have missed filing deadlines, your case has been thrown out by a prejudiced or corrupt judge, or it seems like all hope for justice is lost. Sometimes justice is not served until many years after an incident occurs, sometimes it is not served until after we are dead. But justice will never have a chance of being served if we do not speak out.

If enough people come forward, and the public is made aware of an injustice via the media, class action suits and sanctions against government officials (such as conduct complaints leading to investigation and prosecution) are possible.

Lawyers and law firms that serve the public and work for social justice do exist, but they are few and far between, and the justice system makes it difficult if not impossible for those without economic resources to pursue justice.

Fortunately, injustice in the legal system does not prevent justice in the community from happening.

Education and the power of information, via journalism, are ways that we give a voice to those whose voices have not been heard or have been silenced by institutions that have dehumanized them.

We want to help you tell your story and to expose institutional injustices, and we encourage you to start or continue your journey toward restorative justice. In addition to offering a safer space for your story on our website, we will do what we can to connect you with news media outlets, to organize with you privately, and to point you to helpful legal justice resources.

We accept testimonials from whistleblowers from all backgrounds, across all differences, and from any geographic location.

We serve members of the community in the greater Buffalo area and beyond— your whistleblowing stories, or parts of your stories, are welcome here, no matter where you reside.

Our systems are broken, and there are people who have been broken by them who feel that they have no where to turn for restorative justice. This needs to change, and we are here to do what we can to help create that change. A just and humane society is not possible if injustice is perpetually ‘swept under the rug’ and if human beings continue to be oppressed systematically.

You may not have legal recourse with regard to your victimization or your witnessing of injustice, but you have a right to blow the whistle on those who perpetrate injustice, and you have a right to do so without retaliation or punishment.

It is the social responsibility of those who are part of institutions to protect and defend the rights of those who possess the least power within those institutions, just as it is the social responsibility of privileged communities to serve communities that do not benefit from those specific privileges. Not everyone is privileged with the choice of whether or not to fight and speak out: for some, speaking out is survival. For others, it is social responsibility. It is up to each person to assess their privilege and act accordingly.

You do not have to be a victim of oppression to blow the whistle against injustice: anyone can whistleblow. Those who are in positions of power who act as whistleblowers to the institutions in which they hold or have held those positions are nothing short of heroic.

Whistleblowing takes courage. We rely on the moral calling of the few who are brave enough to speak out against what is wrong and for what is right. If you are an institutional professional, such as a nurse or a janitorial staff member or a court reporter, and you have witnessed injustices within institutions you have worked for but you fear the repercussions of whistleblowing, consider telling your story anonymously. We will honor your request for anonymity and support you behind the scenes.

Rebecca Solnit articulates the need for whistleblowing well:

“Being unable to tell your story is a living death. The right to speak is a form of wealth that is being redistributed. No wonder powerful men are furious.”

No matter who you are, tell your story, whether here or elsewhere, whether anonymously or not. Make yourself heard. Stand up for human rights and against injustice. Stand up to power when it abuses. And blow your whistle.

If you are interested in being a whistleblower, contact us via the website or at madwomenofwny@gmail.com.

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