Photo of Lisa

Lisa was placed in solitary confinement in an Omaha psychiatric facility after threatening self-harm at age 14. 

"The room had mesh over the window so you couldn't look outside. It was an empty room with a cement floor, just plain white walls. There was no mat, nothing in there with you--the room was totally stripped bare. When they closed the steel door, I'd hold onto the door jamb, trying to make it impossible for them to shut me in.

Ironically, (because I was in solitary for self harm), I survived my time alone by just falling back on hurting myself. I'd bite my own cheeks and tongue, banging my head on the wall."

Lisa is now a psychologist and mother. She works with young people with behavioral health problems, motivated in part by her desire to ensure no juvenile goes through what she did.

"Being locked down alone just reinforced the unhealthy beliefs I already had, so I heard: "You're a freak, you don't belong in the world and you don't belong around other people." What are the facilities trying to accomplish? If it is to manage somebody's behavior so they don't harm themselves or someone else, it doesn't work--it just creates more isolation, anger and separation and hopelessness. We need to be cognizant of how many traumatic and difficult, violating experiences these youths have already had. Solitary just re-traumatizes them. Much of what was done to me was out of ignorance, not evil, but I want people to recognize that we can change things for the better."

Read more stories of Nebraskans who spent time in solitary confinement when they were kids.

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