AN EX-MENTAL health patient has branded psychiatric hospitals "playgrounds for predators" after revealing the horrific sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of a senior care worker in Dartford.
The mother-of-two, now in her 40s, said she was raped between 50 and 60 times in Little Brook Hospital in Bow Arrow Lane, Stone, where she was treated for a nervous breakdown and anorexia a decade ago.
Identified only as Catherine and now in her 40s, she described how she was groomed with chocolate, cigarettes and Valium and was left "scarred for life".
She told BBC Radio 5 live’s Victoria Derbyshire show: "He was the first person I met when I was admitted.
"After a week he came into my room, sat on my bed and started running his hands up and down my legs over the quilt.
"At times I was on a very heavy amount of Valium, not to where I was unconscious but the sedative combined with my already defeated self, I was like putty.
"He would come into my room, pull the covers back, get on top, do what he had to do and leave."
The abuse quickly became regular until it was every night he worked - and he blackmailed her into compliance by saying he would report on her good behaviour.
Catherine says doctors told her that if she tried to leave Little Brook, where she was being treated after coming out of a 10-year abusive relationship, she would be sectioned.
"I strongly suspect it can't have been completely missed. I cant believe it could have been so frequent and not picked up."
Even after contracting a sexually transmitted disease, the abuse was still missed by other staff members.
After being released in 2004, Catherine told her story to a nurse and is now demanding better safeguards for patients.
She said: "It’s an open playing field for predators in that environment."
"It's scarred me completely for life. The best I can do for myself is this. Give interviews and hope that hearing my tale can at the very least prevent others experiencing this. Do tell someone.That's what I did find. Once I did tell, I was believed."
Catherine also described the hospital as "hell" and recounted the violence she experience during her stay.
"To be completely honest, I was in a hell anyway. Anyone could have done anything with me. I was just a body.
"I was burned with boiling water by a patient, covered in blood when a patient slashed at herself. I was sexually assaulted by a patient in front of a nurse while waiting for medication."
Police charged the care worker on four counts of sexual abuse. He pleaded guilty to one act of unlawful sexual intercourse with a patient and evaded jail after his 12-month sentence was suspended for two years.
Catherine described the sentence as "weak".
Kent and Medway NHS Trust ruled he should never work with vulnerable people again and paid Catherine £100,000 compensation.
A spokesman for the trust said: "This incident occurred in 2004 prior to the formation of the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust in 2006 and so we are unable to comment on this specific case.
"However, we take the safety of our patients and staff very seriously and have in place stringent pre-employment checks and on-going training and supervision of our staff."