The ‘care home’ that became a psychiatric prison

Teresa Cooper was a 14-year-old girl struggling to come to terms with her parents’ divorce and protesting against the problems forced upon her at home. She was sent to a residential children’s home called Kendall House in Gravesend, Kent, where she thought she would be cared for. She soon found out care wasn’t part of the deal.

Teresa had been placed under the care of Social Services due to her dysfunctional parents, her father being an alcoholic and her mother unable to cope with the family. Prior to being placed at Kendall House, it was made clear to her there was nothing wrong with her mentally and that she didn’t fit any psychiatric criteria. She soon found out however that this didn’t mean a thing.

From the evening she arrived at Kendall House, her nightmare began. She was the subject of physical, mental and sexual abuse, where the resident psychiatrist, Dr Marenthiran Perinpanayagam, and others practiced free reign to do whatever they liked to her and other young girls living there.

Nothing in her history or records suggest she required medication, but upon arriving, she was immediately given the tranquiliser Valium. This was done without parental consent and was the beginning of her nightmare as a human guinea pig.

Over a 32-month period, she was drugged 1,248 times, with 13 different psychiatric drugs. She was pinned down and on occasions, given more than one drug at a time, and in such high doses they could have resulted in her death. She was for example, given daily doses of Valium up to 80mg in tablet form – and 100mg intravenously, which was combined with other drugs well over the recommended adult dosages.

Kendall House, Gravesend

She went from a lively young child to someone who didn’t want to know anymore. She started to self harm and became suicidal. The care home had become her prison. She saw other girls arrive at the home, in need of some kindness and someone to care for them, and watched them transform into drugged up zombies trying to escape from the abuse.

At the end of the day, Teresa survived. She doesn’t know how, but she survived. When she finally got released from what she described as the Psychiatric House of Horrors, she was able to break free from the psychiatric drugs and the cruel regime that had become her life.

Then she fought back and has been committed to raising the alarm bell ever since. Her book Trust No One was decribed one by one journalist as “One of the most moving accounts of child abuse that I’ve read.” While her story of abuse at Kendall House was the subject of a BBC investigation. She has also taken her case of forced drugging and abuse to Parliament, and continues to fight to prevent more children from suffering at the hands of psychiatrists.

Teresa was also instrumental in bringing about an independent report into the abuses at Kendall House. The report, published in June 2016, was followed by an addendum in November 2016 that gave former residents the opportunity to share their experiences.

The authors of the addendum spoke of the complaints that initially exposed the abuse at Kendall House referring to Teresa specifically. They said, “Through lobbying, researching, and detailed analysis, she has supported many other former residents to seek affirmation of their experiences, as well as working on her own process of recovery.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank Teresa Cooper for all her efforts, and her struggles in seeking the truth about Kendall House. In respect of this review, we are most grateful for her contribution, in her interview and her emails, and to all who participated, for showing such courage in speaking with us.

“Without the decision to commission this review, the voices of the former residents would have remained silent. This would have been a terrible omission and missed opportunity for so many.”

Teresa is a survivor of psychiatric abuse and we applaud her for her tenacity in fighting back. Of her hope for the future, we leave the last words for her, “My concern, and I hope it will be your concern too, is that while I’m fighting to expose what happened to me as a young teenager, there are so many children all over the world who are still suffering abuse at the hands of psychiatrists or in care.

“It’s happening right under our noses and mostly for power and profit. By writing my book and telling my story, it is my hope that I can bring a better life for children abused while in care who have been subjected to psychiatric brutality.”


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