The author known as Xandir gave permission to have her story published on the webpage Reddit. All rights belong to the original author.
On May 10th of 2007 at around 2:30 in the morning two strangers barged into my bedroom. I started screaming and crying, as in my mind I was sure that these two strangers had broken into my house and were going to abduct me, rape me, kill me, or in some way harm me. They immediately told me that if I did not shut up that they would handcuff me. I was not being in any way violent or threatening. I was reacting in fear for my life by being vocal and hoping that someone would come to help. I had no idea what was going on. I stopped screaming, still in fear for my life. They started going through my closet digging out clothes as I was only in a night gown. They still had not explained what was going on. I asked, frightened, what the wanted from me, trying to see if I could in some way appease them and get them to leave. They then explained that they were going to take me to a school. It took me a second to understand what they meant by this, as this was an extremely bizarre way to introduce a child to a new school. It then occurred to me that this was what my mother had arranged for my brother several years ago when she had him shipped away to Cross Creek. The two strangers were from Teen Escort Service, a for-profit company that transports teenagers, usually by force, to WWASP (World Wide Association of Specialty Programs) facilities.
I was extremely upset and cried the entire trip, but I obeyed all of their orders. Even though I was being cooperative they said it was their policy to put a belt around the bust of the child and hold the belt so that there would be no chance of attempting to run. It was so humiliating to be led around like a fucking dog around the airport. It was also extremely uncomfortable to have this strange older male putting his hand so close to my breast. I never understood how any of this was legal but definitely knew that none of it was ethical. To this day I feel extremely angered, disturbed, and violated by this entire experience. In addition to this they “forgot” all of the psychiatric medication I had been on at my house. It’s not that I am for psychiatric meds, but it certainly did not feel healthy or normal to go from taking this medication regularly, to just not having it and stopping with out tapering off of it.
From the moment I arrived at Cross Creek, I was treated as though I was broken, dirty, and inhuman. During my stay I saw many others treated this way. I had never spoken to R., the program director, before and my first experience with him was horrible. He asked me why I was there, and I told him all of the things I’d done that I could think of that could possibly be perceived as “bad”. He yelled at me, saying that I was lying and that I didn’t love or care about my parents. I was shocked and confused, unsure of what I had done to deserve this treatment from someone I had just met. To this day, the only thing I can think of that I possibly could have left out was my attraction to other females. In one of the Parent-Child seminars we were made to attend, my mother shared with me that this was one of the biggest “issues” that caused her to send me to Cross Creek. Not the drugs, not the sex (she told me she had no knowledge of me being sexually active prior to being forced to disclose it to her), not the issues with school, but just the fact that there was a possibility that one day I might fall in love with a female. Sorry for not realizing what a horrible, broken child this made me, R.
Shortly after I arrived, my “HOPE buddy” (the student they assign to “mentor” you and teach you the rules in your first few weeks) started asking me about my past, why I was there, and what issues I needed to work on. I talked briefly about my experimentation with soft drugs, my issues with depression (something I’m pretty sure most teenagers experience), and the abusive relationship I had been in with my first girlfriend. As soon as I said the words “girl” and “relationship” in the same sentence she said “STOP! STOP! We can’t talk about that.” I was filled with shame regarding my sexuality simply from the fact that I was not even allowed to talk about homosexuality in any way shape or form. Shortly after this incident I started talking to the therapist they assigned me to there about this abusive relationship I had experienced, and how it bothered me that I was not allowed to talk about a part of me that I have no control over. His response was that I DID have a choice over whether or not I was attracted to females and that I should just deal with these thoughts of same sex attraction. His opinion was that this was probably a result of some anger I had toward men, particularly my dad and that I probably just wanted to be with females because they were “safer” (even though I had been with an abusive female before!!!) He also said that ultimately this was probably just a phase and a result of my crazy teenage hormones. He believed that if I tried hard enough and ignored these thoughts and feelings one day I might marry a nice boy.
I had no interest in having a relationship with anyone there, but when other girls formed relationships with each other, the repercussions were pretty extreme. I understood why it was not allowed, as relationships are generally distracting no matter the gender of either partner, but the way people were treated was pretty unnecessary in my opinion. It usually involved lots of yelling, ostracizing, and shaming. I remember one R. meeting where two girls were being confronted about this and R. was yelling about how stupid they were being and how no one would be able to trust them now. He went on to say that he had “nothing against homosexuality, but it was not the way God intended things.” and that the Bible definitely did not condone it. These “God” and bible references were used on a regular basis, along with religious videos, praying, etc. even though Cross Creek claimed that they were not in any way religious. The rule book and protocol also appeared to be directly based off of the Mormon religion (no caffeine etc.) The program reprimanded children for telling their parents about this religious influence and regularly tried to hide it from parents. I am in no way against people having their own beliefs and following what ever religion is right for them, however I think that it’s completely and totally immoral to lie to parents about what they are getting. More on this later.
The queer shaming was present in nearly every aspect of the program, including the language used. We were not allowed to use curse words such as “shit”, or “bitch”, but I never saw anyone reprimanded for saying “fag” or “faggot.” This fostered an environment in which teasing and bullying for all sorts of things were fully tolerated. I even remember a facilitator in a seminar trying to trigger a girl by calling her a “dyke.” And no, before you say something, I really don’t care about breaking confidentiality of seminars at this point because I am fed up. What these people said and did broke me down and created so much shame inside of me.
To be continued in part 2....