Part three of my interview with Godly Mathew [You can find Part I and Part II here.] Was this soft-spoken, self-described eccentric abused by Friends Hospital four years ago? Why does he stand at the Boulevard day after day, enduring the stares and scrutiny of passers-by?
Q: What are people’s reactions to your protest?
A: Most of the response is very positive. People give me a thumbs up or honk. I am very grateful for their show of support. It is one of the things that keeps me motivated and hopeful. Occasionally, someone laughs derisively or makes a vulgar remark but those are not as frequent as the positive ones.
Q: Have you ever contacted a lawyer or filed a suit?
A: Two years after the incident, I filed a civil case on my own in the federal court system. Apparently malpractice lawyers don’t want to go anywhere near a psych abuse case unless there is a gross degree of malpractice. I was also not interested in playing the role of the victim beyond what I suffered. So I filed the case pro se, but it was thrown out after Friends Hospital hired an attorney who made a motion to dismiss. I could not afford to pay a forensic psychiatrist for a Certificate of Merit which would have been required for me to re-file the case in the state court system. Two years is the statute of limitation, so that was pretty much the end of that path. Continue reading
On May 22, city officials decided that they were no longer going to send emergency psychiatric cases to Friends Hospital, the nation’s first mental hospital. Why? Investigation of a patient suicide revealed that there wasn’t adequate supervision in the facility, particularly its Crisis Response Center. But Godly Mathew, who’s been waging a 100-day protest since May 9, says he experienced abuse at Friends Hospital firsthand, when he was sent there in December 2004. Since he began the protest, he’s started a blog called One Hundred Day Protest, a Twitter account and a website to spread the word about his protest. PG caught up with him to ask him about his time at Friends Hospital. The interview took place at his protest site, at the intersection of the Roosevelt Boulevard and Langdon Street. [This is Part II of the interview, you can find the first part here.]
Q: What were you feelings towards your family shortly before you went to Friends Hospital for the second time?
A: At this point, it had been almost a year since the first time I had gone to Friends and things hadn’t gotten any better between me and my family. If you keep calling someone crazy for long enough, they’re going to get fed up and react. I began to cut off everyone. I felt I was giving all this love and it wasn’t being reciprocated.
Q: Why were you sent to Friends the second time?
A: I was sent to Friends Hospital the second time after a domestic incident. I had behaved pretty inappropriately and got into a fight with a relative; the police were called. My uncle and his wife showed up with the police, along with another friend of theirs (who happened to be a psychiatrist) and her husband. It was like some sort of psychiatric witch-hunt. You could sense a sort of mob mentality among them – they were all telling the police officer that I need help. When the police asked my parents if they wanted to press charges, they said “No.” The police officer told them all to leave at that point – they all left and I thought that was the end of it. Continue reading
Every day since May 9, 26-year old Godly Mathew has been standing at the intersection of the Roosevelt Boulevard and Langdon Street holding a sign. It reads “I WAS ABUSED AT FRIENDS HOSPITAL.” Last Wednesday, after learning about Godly’s protest from my family (my brother and I attended the same high school as Godly) , I joined Mr. Mathew at the sidewalk across from Friends Hospital to learn more about why exactly he’s there and what he hopes to achieve.
Q: First of all, Godly, thanks for agreeing to give an interview to phillygrrl.com. Tell me, why did your parents name you Godly?
A: [Laughs.] I’m an only child and I was born late in my parents’ marriage. I guess they thought it was a miracle they had a kid.
Q: Where were you born and what is your family background?
A: I was born in South India, my family is Malyalee and my parents still primarily speak Malyalam. My mom can’t speak English at all. We came to America when I was nine and a half years old. I was raised Christian and Christianity’s been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember.
Q: What was your family like? Did you have a happy childhood?
A: My childhood in India (I lived with my grandparents and mother) was very peaceful and happy. It was the only truly happy time in my life. After coming to America, it was a very dysfunctional dynamic, including emotional and physical abuse. My father was prone to periods of anger and he would take it out on me and my mother. My mother contributed her own part to the atmosphere of the house as far as verbal and emotional abuse. Continue reading