This testimony was found on Reddit. All rights go the original author known as RontgenisesItUp
I’ve seen a bunch of conflicting posts on subreddits such as this and on other places on the internet, and I know that literally nothing will be done to shut down these kind of places but I guess maybe I’m hoping this will get out there. I don’t know, I guess I just need to get it all out there.
It started on August 28th of 2016. I had just gotten released from my previous treatment center (a 90 day program called Cottenwood de Tucson in Tucson, AZ. It partially secure/lock down and no touch facility with all female staff and patients) and arrived at Elevations Academy/RTC formerly known as Island View. Before getting into more details about my experience; here’s what you should know about me. I’m 16 years old, I was 15 at the time and had my 16th birthday in October while at Elevations. I’ve suffered from various traumas such as sexual assault, have severe attachment/abandonment issues, a history of disordered eating and anger issues, as well as generalized anxiety and depression. I was sent there after Cottonwood to continue treatment for my anxiety, depression, and trauma. (Keep in mind that I was sent to Cottonwood for a completely different reason— meaning drug use and sex related incidents— and never have I been treated for my eating disorder). Also, I’ve been in and out of therapy including off and on prescription anti anxiety/anti depressants since I was 11.
I stayed at Elevations from August 28th 2016-February 22nd 2017. When I got to elevations I was, like you may expect, angry. I didn’t want to be there, but my previous therapist and I looked at the website and it seemed decent enough. Plus my other option was an all girls ranch in Southern Utah and I have super bad allergies to all plants and animals so I’d most likely be hospitalized if I even step foot on a ranch— making Elevations the only option. The staff who checked me in were nice enough; and seemed to understand how awful it was that I was in a treatment center. For those unfamiliar with (what I presume to be) the typical check in process for a treatment center: 1. the staff go though all your stuff to check for drugs, confo like phone numbers and addresses, contraband sharp objects or other forbidden items, any electronics you may have brought. And anything that isn’t deemed approved by the staff is put into a box and shipped back to your parents. Here’s where things go wrong: Looking back, knowing the rules of the place….the staff who checked me in were all newer (since there’s a very high turn over rate of staff at places like that…hmm wonder why?? SARCASM) and didn’t really know what to take from me and what not to. So I was left with a bunch of stuff like mechanical pencils, glass jewelry, and bobby pins. Not that I minded, but it got me into a lot of trouble later when the more experienced staff found out. 2. there was also an intake shower to make sure you don’t have lice and to also do an entry body check to asses your self harm scars if you have any. The overall body check part wasn’t that bad when I was there since they only made you be half naked (top or bottom) at all times and it was usually really fast. The bad part is: the check in showers were awful. All the showers were awful. They were the kind of camp showers with cheap tile around them and even cheaper plastic curtains that stuck to you when they got wet and most of them had gaping holes in them. The water pressure was either like bullets pelleting you or a little tiny trickle that barely came out at all, and as for the temperature it never stayed the same. There was no control for the temperature, it was just a button that you had to press and MAYBE you’d get freezing cold water, maybe you’d get scalding hot water, OR MAYBE you’d get lucky and your water would change temperature mid shower because someone else was taking a shower or flushing the toilet or washing their hands. but keep in mind I was on Ruby team (one of the two girl’s teams) and the water heater was down Diamond hall (the other girl’s team) so the water had to travel a while before reaching our side of the building. Think of it like a military barrack but longer with a big center dividing it in half. A lot of my hatred for that place comes from the despicable girls I met. For privacy reasons I’ll only call them by their initials. Each newbie (the compee) was given a compass (like a mentor) to show them the ropes of the place and help them make friends. Mine was KW, a 16 (?) year old girl who’d been there about 5 or 6 months and was from Bel Air (?). But she wasn’t fresh or a prince, or even funny. She was a bitch, and It’s totally okay that I said that on the internet because she called me a bitch 50 times within my first 2.5 days of being there. She was also a kleptomaniac and everybody low key hated her— you couldn’t even imagine the pettiness of the girls in that place, it was like some crazy lifetime movie meets jersey shore plus pretty little liars. Anyways: MY POINT ON COMPASSES IS: like many things at this place- the idea is good and theoretically it’s helpful but for the most part you’re just given a person and you may or may not get along with them.
THE FOOD: So elevations was actually really good trying to accommodate to kids with dietary needs as long as you told your therapist and the physical doctor so they could confirm with your parents then tell the kitchen. Despite their efforts the food still sucked for the most part and a lot of the staff could agree with that.
There’d be special nights where parents could come and spend time with the kid and the kitchen would cook something fresh to impress them. Much like all the other things this place would do. To the public and the parents it pretended that we were being well fed and treated fairly depending on our behavior and that living conditions were good and it was a healthy environment-- obviously none of this was true. THE STAFF: As I said earlier the staff turnover rate was super high and some barely lasted a day. One instance KW started causing a scene trying to get into AJAX (our supply closet where the laundry machine and shampoo/conditioner and shoes were) when she wasn’t allowed to. The staff pushed her out of the doorway to lock it (this was a touch facility) and so KW started screaming at her. Everyone got shuffled away into our group room to “avoid complications” but because the walls were super thin you could hear pretty well. I couldn’t hear exactly what she was saying (probably because someone else was also screaming at the time), but it was roughly along the lines of: “get out of my way you stupid fat cnt. You can’t fcking touch me you stupid ugly whre. fcking dumbas redhead btch. You’re pathetic how about you just quit now because no one here likes you you pathetic crying piece of sh*t ” The woman quit about an hour later. I don’t blame her. The reason the inconsistency of staff is a problem is because they most likely don’t know what they’re doing and as a resident you couldn’t actually hold a long term and helpful relationship with any of them which sucked a lot because they were the only people you ever really saw besides your teammates. (Who probably were psycho and hated you anyways) and like hell did you ever see your therapist. TECHNICALLY you’re supposed to meet with your therapist twice a week. 1 for a family therapy phone call and 1 personal therapy. I think I saw my therapist about 12 times individually, not including the two intake meetings my first two weeks. 5 months is about 22 weeks. The supposed amount of meetings of 2 a week should’ve totaled 44 meetings. Doing the math I’m pretty sure I only got 32 of the 44 meetings-- not that I minded because I hate therapy; but it was pretty annoying when she (my therapist) never had time for me. BECAUSE HERE’S THE MOST FUCKED UP PART OF ELEVATIONS: they don’t teach you how to realistically deal with problems. All the models of issues are between people you’re in treatment with who are learning the same exact “coping skills”. So they know the methods, everyone knows the system, and anyone smart knows how to use it to their advantage. So as soon as an ACTUAL problem from the real world occurs you’re on your ass fucked as can be and you’re there thinking WOW DBT CAN’T DO SHIT FOR ME. You’ll only get attention from the staff and doctors if you act out. Good kids don’t get help. Unless you’re screaming and stealing and breaking all the rules and self harming, or making threats or starting fights, you’re practically invisible.
My overall experience with Elevations was shit. The kids were shit, the staff didn’t have a clue what they were doing, the doctors never had any time for you, and the whole place caters to ADHD kids who have problems acting out through drugs and sex rather than just quietly depressed kids with body issues who are actually the majority of the population living there. The only thing I learned was that nobody cares about your problems unless you cause a giant scene and threaten your peers. The whole time I was there I mentally had my guard up and had my safety constantly threatened and was belittled by the staff/therapists/other kids for not acting out like the other kids. I saw things that no one should ever see, even in some of the toughest jails. It wasn’t all bad, but it was bad enough that if I could do one thing in the world it would be to completely shut the place down for good.
My experience(s) at Elevations RTC/Island View Academy (Reddit)