Pin Down – One Girl’s Harrowing and Disturbing Tale of Institutionalised Abuse

 Pin Down – One Girl’s Harrowing and Disturbing Tale of Institutionalised Abuse
 Teresa Cooper,
 Orion Publishing Group
 ISBN – 9780752886114,

 Star rating: 5/5


In the Irish Republic and the US there has been some exposure of the use of children in care for drug trials. But it has taken the immense bravery of Teresa Cooper to focus attention on drug administration in the UK care system, writes Liz Davies.

Cooper’s recollected experiences of the London care home where she was placed in 1981 by social services makes painful reading. She describes how she was regularly administered a range of anti-psychotic and sedative drugs, and had fortnightly urine and blood tests. These tests were seemingly not logged with the GP or hospitals. She doesn’t know where the tests were sent or what they were for.

Days spent in an isolation unit are vividly depicted. When she challenged staff, she was often forcibly injected: “A sudden searing pain shot through my bum, down my legs and through my back. I screamed with every last bit of energy I had, petrified that they were trying to kill methen I felt a potent mixture of drugs pumping through my system, immobilising me, shutting me down on all levels.”

Escape attempts resulted in her return to the unit to experience further harsh punishments and the psychiatrist seemed to sway the opinion of any questioning adults. Her family were unable to raise the alarm.

Cooper describes how she realised she was being raped while drugged: “Over and over again, these men and other men had violated my body while I slept, semi-comatose, under the influence of multiple prescription drugs, while I was oblivious to what they were doing to me.”

Her reports led to no protection and she has still not found justice. Statute of limitations legislation prevented her taking civil action (it happened too long ago) and, despite the evidence, she did not receive criminal injuries compensation. She supports other survivors, hosts a website,, and continues to raise many uncomfortable issues. But the key question, surely, is who benefited from her pain?

Liz Davies is senior lecturer children and families social work, London Metropolitan University

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