Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tia Foster at Cross Creek programs (From:The Cross Creek Suvivors website)

I know Tia Foster personally, I witnessed her bruising and the scabs on her face and body from restraint. She attended October 1998 to 2000. This is her story.

I was 14 when I arrived at Cross Creek Manor in LaVerkin, Utah. It is a very dark period in my life that I have tried to forget but I need to remember it now to warn parents not to send their children there. I am 28 years old now, work full time, and run my own animal rescue. It took me years to heal from my experience and I wouldn’t want any child to endure what I did.

At 14, I was rebelling against my parents and my school. Nothing hardcore, just going through what many teens do. I smoked pot occasionally and argued with teachers. Looking back on this, I think that I would have naturally outgrown this phase of my life. I arrived there not knowing what kind of a place it was. I was told it was going to be a nice boarding school and I was only going to be there for a few months. It turned out I was there for almost 2 years.

The moment I arrived, the staff members took everything from me and gave me a uniform to wear. I was to only talk to the staff and one girl who they called “my hope buddy.” Thus began the process of indoctrination and brainwashing. That night I was told I had ten minutes to shower and dress. The showers were freezing cold. I was not allowed to wear shoes and my parents hadn’t sent slippers for me to wear so I could only wear my socks. The next day my socks were sopping wet from being outside in the fenced in area we were allowed to walk in circles in for exercise each day. I caught a bad cold but was denied any medical treatment.

The first group meeting, the director of the program Ron Garret confronted me. He asked me why I was there and I said, “because I smoked some weed and talked back to my parents.” He swore at me and called me a whore and got into my face and screamed insults at me. From day one, I refused to allow him to get to me and was always disgusted by how him and the other staff members used fear and insults and threats to control the girls. This lead to abuse and mind games. I was thrown into the “iso room” for months at a time. The iso room was freezing cold with nothing in it. A flourascent light would be kept on all day and two staff members would be seated in the door way watching me but I was not allowed to talk to them. This sensory deprivation was real torture. Imagine not making contact with another human for months on end, having nothing to read or be entertained by, no warmth or comfort. Just a cold, bare room.

I was also drugged heavily in an attempt to get me to comply. When I refused these powerful drugs, I would be tackled by staff and have my nose pinched so that I couldn’t breath. When my mouth would open, they would force the pills and water in. I had permanent damage to my kidneys from these medications as well as other health problems. Risperdol was the worst of these drugs as well as Geodon which is usually prescibed to schizophrenics which I was not.

In those months, I struggled to keep my sanity. I would try to imagine happy things and keep hope alive. It wasn’t easy. Some of the staff were sadists and would enjoy take down sessions. Take downs are supposed to be a way to restrain out of control patients in hospitals. Take downs at Cross Creek were rarely ever to restrain anyone out of control but rather as a way to inflict pain and show dominance whenever we didn’t comply. At this time, I was only being fed the bare minimum to keep me alive. I weighed about 85 lbs and had no strength left in me.

Ron Garrett wanted me to write a letter to my parents telling them that I was fine and that everything was ok. I refused. He told a staff member named Dennis who must have weighed 250 lbs to hold me down until I agreed to write the letter. Dennis slammed my head into the carpet of the iso room which was very rough carpeting. He layed on top of me and I couldn’t breath. He bent me arm back in a way that hurt so badly I couldn’t stand it. I was terrified I would die. Just when I thought I would he would let me up to take a breath and then go back to laying on me. This went on for hours. It was truly torture. Afterwards my arm was so injured I could not use it properly for over a month. I had horrible carpet burn on my face and my body was covered in giant bruises. The entire time I was in iso I had to endure humiliation. The staff watched me shower and go to the bathroom. Ron Garrett would constantly come in and threaten me and taunt me. He said he would send me to the program in Jamaica where the big black guards would “have a lot of fun playing with a skinny white girl.”

Amazingly, throughout this whole time, I refused to brainwashed and give in to them. I beg you to not send your child there. This place can only bring heartache and pain.

Sources:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Angelique at Cross Creek Manor (From:WWASP-survivors)

In May of 1993 I was sent to a girls home called Cross Creek Manor (CCM) in southern Utah where I lived for four and a half months. This facility is owned and operated by a notorious umbrella organization called World Wide Association of Specialty Programs (WWASP). While attending I was physically attacked, suffocated, tormented, and put in isolation on a regular basis for three day periods at a time.

I was denied all access to communicate with the outside. Once a staff member (while invading my privacy) told me I wipe the wrong way after using the toilet. In addition, I was put on unprescribed and inappropriate medication that created physical side-effects, essentially I was drugged.

I was kept in isolation on and off during my stay, including my final day, right up until being transferred into the college dorms at Seattle Pacific U (a Bible college I had been pre-accepted to prior to my incarceration). I had no contact with the outside world prior to this other than brief visits at a “hospital” called Brightway.

Brightway was more of a packaging center, than a hospital. It was a detainment center, but also the UPS for the herds of lost (or rather abandoned) children, a branding center for human cattle that decided who went where. They apparently mixed up so many “packages” and caused so much damage, they had to close; however, there are plenty of other places like it still operating.

I mention my attendance at a Bible college because the youth at Cross Creek Manor (CCM) were meant to feel like they were criminals or that they were somehow mentally disturbed, and I certainly was not; nonetheless, that’s how we were treated during our incarceration. The primary difference between prison and residential centers today is that prisoners are allowed a lawyer and a phone call.

While attending I was deprived of an education, lied to, and my mail was confiscated. I was denied appropriate exercise, sanitary conditions, and emotional/medical attention. I also slept on a floor in the isolation room where I peed to avoid staff monitoring me in the bathroom and making sick remarks.

Originally, back in California, I was told I was going to an in-state, nature focused boarding school to obtain emotional support in response to childhood abuse, something that had been obfuscated from some time.

I had two months left of high school and couldn’t finish because I was sent to a Charter Hospital for a month after having a breakdown. While attending Charter I found myself near my community in a safe therapeutic environment that offered virtually everything I needed except for a longer stay and a regular therapist that I knew well enough to confide in. They had many other specialists, therapists, and diverse forms of expressive therapy that were wonderful. I was willing to do anything to overcome what was setting me back.

Cross Creek promised to offer a high school diploma. Had the truth of their dubious unaccredited “diplomas” been revealed I might not have missed out on graduating from Catholic school.

When I got to Cross Creek what I found was that I was out of state, in Utah in a basement across the street from a cemetery. From the beginning I found myself forced into writing essays about how I was “bad” that took several hours to complete per essay. The first one was about being a liar because I showered at the wrong time (having not been informed there was a shower schedule). That incident landed me a three-day stay in isolation, a room with white walls not much larger than a twin bed.

After that I wrote a letter to friends asking them to come and get me even though I had no real idea where I was (we traveled through the night). That was a turning point for the worse, and staff repeatedly put me in isolation. One time I sat down on the bed and the frame gave way, they added three more days to my solitary confinement. I speculate the bed was already broken because the other isolation room had no bed. Despite the innocent nature of the incident it was termed “destruction of property” and “malicious mischief.” As for the cause of the latter accusation, I had to put the bed upright so I could find enough space to sleep on the floor. Both resulted in essays and more isolation.

Some girls seemed sympathetic knowing of the length of time I was spending in there and others used it as leverage to advance in the program. Many ganged up, telling me I just wasn’t working with the program. This occurred in my first group therapy session which I was quite excited about attending having just come out of isolation, but I soon learned “group therapy” for the most part was simply attack therapy.

Attack therapy involves people confronting each other in a verbally abusive way. I am yet to learn of any studies that demonstrate that it is therapeutic or helpful in any way. An example of attack therapy is telling a rape victim that the abuse was her fault, suggesting that she is a slut and that the rape was simply a reaction to her style of dress or emotional state.

Girls living in the basement with me who had less privileges than the others and little to lose began to demonstrate sympathy towards me verbally and almost unanimously towards the abuse I was being subjected to. I don’t know if staff felt intimidated by this, but either way it just became a game for them to use me as an example. Maybe they feared an uprising.

My independent education packets never came and I later learned that the organization was caught up in one of the biggest education scams having issued 113 fake diplomas just at one school alone in New York. In regards to Ivy Ridge, John Sullivan Jr. NY Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Watertown district office stated in the August 19, 2005 Watertown Daily Times “people assume there’s oversight of these programs, there’s more government oversight of dog kennels than there are of these school, and that’s not right.”

http://imgur.com/4VrKa Image of Youth in A Dog Cage (High Impact Tecate, Mexico)

http://imgur.com/aLngq Image of More Youth in Dog Cages (High Impact Tecate, Mexico)

See One of Our Great Documentaries and See Parents and Staff Testimony: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=057_1200885881

HOW TO HELP: http://www.cafety.org/volunteer Donating is a good way to help support the hiring of a volunteer coordinator. Join my STARP (Stop Teen Abuse in Residential Programs) fb site directory.

Several top government officials completely failed to respond to Congressman Miller’s extensive requests for an investigation despite the widespread incidences of kids being abused, tortured, and placed in dog cages. Dog kennels wasn’t the worst of it and yet, when it came down to small isolation cells in WWASPS’ Samoan program called Paradise Cove, we still couldn’t and haven’t received any oversight or intervention to hold the residential industry to any substantial standards.

The worst incident I experienced in Utah began was when I was put face-first against a wall for over ten hours and then told to stand on my tip-toes to reach a dot taped to the wall with my nose. The verbal taunting, enjoyment of this staff member, and the aggravation of not being able to do anything but stare at a wall led me to turn the corner and there I had two men that grabbed me and threw me in the isolation room again. This time they jumped me, put me in a painful police like lock position with my arms behind my back while they bashed my head into the floor causing significant and a large visible facial laceration.

They then proceeded to sit on me to so I couldn’t breathe and after gasping several times for air and pleading for my life, I became speechless. I was certain they would kill me, and they could get away with it. No one would of known about it because they were able to do all this other abuse, why wouldn’t they get away with killing me? There was no one there to stop them, and maybe no one cared. It wasn’t like I received any mail except a postcard from Bali at the time and a letter from my future college roommate that I couldn’t respond to.

So as I became asphyxiated and unable to save myself, the young staff member they had put in charge of me to make sure I didn’t try to leave looked completely shocked, and it was perhaps that look of shock that saved my life. Not all kids are that fortunate. About a dozen kids die every year in programs from abuse or torture like compression suffocation.

When I came out of isolation my face would twitch oddly, not like an eye twitch, but a full muscle spasm. It continued so much that I became worried that people would see and think I was weird. I also frequently lost control of my bladder; unfortunately, we had to ask permission to use the bathroom and only use it at designated times. Since some of the staff was annoyed we needed to use the restrooms they started to limit the amount of water we could drink.

Later I read an account by a parent saying her daughter was given Haldol, a medication given to people with schizophrenia, which wasn’t prescribed to her. I looked up the medication to see if there were any side effects such as facial twitching, and sure enough this was one of the major side effects. A girl with schizophrenia, named Emily, had left the program not much earlier than when I got there. She later committed suicide after being subjected to more frequent, but similar types of abuse including sexual abuse.

In my case, the Haldol could easily have been slipped into food before I received it in isolation. The side effects would explain my difficulty focusing and facial twitches. When Emily was part of the program her and another friend were woken up frequently in the middle of the night. It’s something that occurred in other WWASPS programs in order to sleep deprive and break the subject into submission.

A highlight of WWASPS programs is behavior modification. For parents who don’t really know what that means, it sound great; however, if they had done more research about what was really involved and the results of such experimentation I suspect many parents may not have signed their kids up. As a result of various abuses many kids have suffered from borderline personality disorder and PTSD. In the worst cases some kids are disabled for life and there have been suicides.

There are still staff currently at CCM that were employed when I attended. One, employed shortly before my departure seemed neither harmful nor helpful, but complacent. The other, the manager, sent my mom away when she came to investigate why my school packets never arrived. It so happened that her visit was the same day I received serious lacerations to my face, she was told that visiting me would interrupt the process. The manager, and many employees were talented at manipulating people, often through emotion, especially guilt.

Keeping this story short has been trying, and forcing myself not to live these things over and over has proven vexing. I’ve realized I was suffering most of the symptoms of post trauma and have since overcome my fear of therapists and received several years of ongoing therapy. I’ve been active in advocating for community issues and have found CAFETY, the Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth, a resource of inspiration.

In my professional life and personal life, I create prevention and help people deal with trauma. The great thing I’ve found through the process of my own recovery is that people don’t think fighting for human rights and protection is crazy, but rather something that has a rich cultural history of its own called “advocacy.”

I’ve met a lot of survivors online and in person from different programs. One even moved in and became a part of my family. However, survivors really struggle with relationship issues. Some of them experienced being raped at WWASP facilities. Others witnessed children being raped and sodomized. I guess you could say being in these programs is such a strange experience that it can leave people feeling mixed up and isolated whether in their professional lives they’ve become lawyers or raised families.

Survivors often feel an instant connection; it’s refreshing to speak to someone else about these facilities without parrying assumptions that we were “out of control”. A lot of people never trust therapists again, never seek help, or share their story with other people because of the embarrassment, distrust, and initial pressure they feel to fit in, but there are several thousand of us just within a small percentage of online social groups. I’d imagine there are easily hundreds of thousands of people that have experienced some form of residential abuse.

The real issue lies within the lack of oversight and false marketing that exists in thousands of programs across the States and beyond. Politicians for years have rallied against any legislation that could interfere with their “Cash for Kids” profits. In some states, they won’t even require faith based programs to be licensed, which doesn’t even begin to make people eligible to work with kids in the first place; it simply allows there to have been some initial form of contact with a state department. It’s known too that the faith based programs tend to be also very abusive taking parts of the Bible literally into beating children with rods and pipes. This practice has resulted in kids being beaten to death.

It was a common practice in the Roloff schools that President Bush helped to stay afloat. Bush as Governor of Texas at the time, overturned legislation allowing the Roloff schools to not have to be licensed despite, the apparent severe abuse coming out in court cases. Pastor Roloff in turn, helped his campaign financially as well as through his evangelical radio shows. Roloff eventually killed a bunch of orphans flying his plane into the ground while ignoring the weather warnings.

Where the industry is huge in the fundamentally religious state of Utah, Mitt Romney also profited off these programs and chose Bob Litchfield, the owner of WWASPS, as his financial co-chairman for his presidential candidacy in 08. Romney wanted Double the Guanatanamo, so he picked, Mel Sembler as another financial co-chairman, the owner of the abusive Straight programs.

I leave you with this from a Mother Jones article “Horror Stories from Tough Love Teen Homes,” “ In March 2010, the House passed the Keeping All Students Safe Act, a bill that would have banned the use of seclusion and physical or chemical restraints by any school that benefits from federal education money. (It, too, died in the Senate.) Andy Kopsa, who covers abusive homes in her blog, Off the Record, noted that GOP members whose districts host tough-love schools rallied against the act. They included former Indiana Rep. Mark Souder (Hephzibah House), Alabama Rep. Robert Aderholt (Reclamation Ranch, Rachel Academy), and North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx (King Family Ministries), who testified: “This bill is not needed…The states and the localities can handle these situations. They will look after the children.”

Limited Images of Abuse and Settings Youth Were In at WWASPS

http://imgur.com/sES7w (Tranquility Bay, Jamaica)

http://imgur.com/NM6rM (Tranquility Bay, Jamaica youth in picture killed himself after being abused there, another after being pepper sprayed numerously on a daily basis by American staff owners)

http://imgur.com/a/M3tBU (Cross Creek Manor now Cross Creek Academy, isolation rooms)

http://imgur.com/SSDMr (The Hobbit Spring Creek Lodge, Montana)

http://imgur.com/8T2EU (High Impact Tecate, Mexico)

One OF Our Great Documentaries: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=057_1200885881

Other related articles:

Read more: http://www.wyff4.com/news/24956710/detail.html#ixzz1W4worVr6 The remains of more than 70 animal remains were found on the Due West property in varying states of decay on Lichfield’s property where the abusive and now closed Carolina Springs academy existed.

Read more: “Child welfare has evolved over the last four centuries. It finds its roots in empirical systems based on property and material value, not human values.”Roch Longueepee

http://restoringdignitycampaign.blogspot.com/2007/02/systems-of-control-global-legacy-of.html

Sources:

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The truth about peninsula village- An absolute nitemare....

This testimony was found on the message board, which belonged to Fighting Institutional Child Abuse Network. All rights goes to the original author "August"

An absolute nightmare. If you want your child to become a lab rat for psychiatric drugs, and abused on every level, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and I am rarely at a loss for words, it is an absolute nitemare! I have never before or since witnessed and experienced such abuse as the hell that was that year so long ago. I'm going to break it down for you as quickly and simply as I can. I remember my Mother driving me to the office where I was officially admitted. The moment that we exited the car and entered the PV office was the last time for a solid year that I would be able to openly or freely communicate with any of my family. It's almost like cult tactics, well, no almost about it...Everything from that point on is coached and controlled by peninsula village. I was driven from admissions to the STU stabelization unit- sky blue walls, fear, and sadness.

Staff members wearing alarm buzzers around their necks to push for assistance in tackling teenagers, stripping them down and locking them in a freezing cold "time out" room because perhaps after hours of sitting on their bed with their arm raised and no acknowldgement they really had to piss so got up without permission- tackled, stripped and locked away- for their own safety of course. We would sit on those dreaded beds for twenty three hours a day. No going outside, no anything really. You may raise your hand for hours on end and the staff would only ignore you unless you got up, then prepare to be tackled. I was told to write a twenty page biography of my issues, and had this ripped up in my face three times by my counselor who told me that I was full of shit and a manipulative liar minimizing and all that good shit...so what does one do, make up issues when the truth is not working its about survival at that point. Truly. Then they "accepted" my bio, what irony. A couple of years ago I was visiting my family and found a video from a family therapy session from when I was at the village. Damn. I broke down, flooded with the pain of that year. I was on so much lithium and extremely high doses of prozac that on the video my speech was terribly slurred and I almost seemed retarded. Scary.

After about six weeks to three months one "graduates" out of the stabelization with the grand priveledge of moving into a cabin in the woods with no electricity or running water. Of course there is a bath house that is used for showers and everything is timed short. The winter is cold, and often as a punishment for something or another the bath house "priveledge" would be revoked in the mornings and if you wanted to wash your face and brush your teeth then you you had five minutes at an outside spigot for the entire group in thirty degree temps, and it is an absolute nitemare. There is a cosequence for everything. It seems to break ones spirit is a concrete goal of the all powerful treatment team. There is verbal abuse by the counselors, and the limited and always supervised contact with family is always coached. Some other consequences pusing a wheelbarrow full of rocks, walking holding a ten foot piece of rope stepping all over one another for miles on end. Slepp deprivation. They work you like a slave doing physical labor and the school is inadequate at best...I don't know.

People have problems, and time heals a lot of things...I left home after graduating from the village so upset that my parents put me there and did not speak to my Mother for almost four years. Today, I realize that at the time they were only doing what they thought was best at the time, right or wrong, they never intentionally set out to harm me....now the people at the viallge, there was some serious abuse going on...

I mean I am 34 now, and still tramuatized...anyway...I am tired, and given time could deliver more details and examples, but feel free to e mail me with any questions, and I'm interested in hearing from some other "alumni" from years ago with their own thoughts and opinions....I'm allowed to have those now unlike my time at Peninsula Village. Thanks...August

Source:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Survivor Testimony of Bill Boyles (From wwaspsurvivors.com)

Very early one morning, shortly before Halloween 1997, several large men burst into my room, put in handcuffs, and dragged me away right in front of my parents, and they did nothing. They did nothing because they had hired the men and paid them to take me. It was a legal kidnapping, and there was nothing I could do.

The men took almost all the way across the country, from airport to airport, Orlando to Atlanta to Houston to Dallas to Las Vegas…and then we drove. I couldn’t see anything in the night as we drove through the desert that night. The men told me nothing except that we were headed to Utah. And then, in the early morning hours again, almost 24 hours after I had left, I finally arrived.

As they dragged me towards the building, it didn’t look special in any particular way. Just a one-story, nondescript building. The sign out front said “Brightway Adolescent Hospital”. My first idea of what life here was really going to be like was when we paused at the front door. The “escorts” pushed a button and waited til the door buzzed and swung ponderously open.

They dragged me in and I began the process of intake. First they asked me a seemingly endless series of questions about my drug use )none), my sexual experiences (sadly, again none) and so on and so forth ad naseum. Then I was weighed and measured, and after that, I was stripped, then searched.

All my clothes were taken from me, and I was given a cup of foul-smelling liquid. I was told to go take a shower and wash my whole body with it. I asked what it was, and I was told it was flea and lice shampoo. I went into the shower and turned it on. Have I mentioned I’m from FLORIDA? And apparently Utah is freezing cold in October? Well, there was no hot water in that shower. I tried and tried every which way on the handle, I waited and waited.. Eventually I gave up and bit the bullet. I still remember how cold that water was. I shook so hard I could barely lather up with that nasty shampoo. But eventually I got it done. I emerged from the shower and I was given, not my clothes, but a thin hospital gown to wear. Here’s the thing: I’m a big guy, 6’4” or thereabouts, and even at 14 I was around 6’1”. And yet, this was a hospital for kids. The problem quickly became clear: their gowns were sized for kids, and, as one of my friends put it to me, it was like a shirt on me. The thing barely covered my “areas”, and quite frankly they still hung out, if you catch my drift. But all my clothes had been taken, and I was enforced to wear it the way it was. There didn’t seem to be anything I could do about it, so I shrugged and accepted my fate. The tech informed me there wasn’t a bed for me that night, not until someone shipped off to another program in the morning. So he improvised. I was led to a room marked “Seclusion”. The door had a window in it. When he opened that door, and I got a glimpse of the room inside, I was horrified. The room was tiny, so tiny in fact that a small cot had to wedged diagonally to even fit inside. But even worse than that, the cot had seatbelt-like straps across it, clearly intended to tie the bed’s occupant down. (It reminded me of the bed Sarah Connor is strapped down on in the beginning of Terminator 2.) I began to panic thinking of spending the night tied down in those straps. The tech seemed to sense my panic, and informed me as long as I behaved myself I would be spared from that, at least. He told me to lie down and go to sleep, but it was hard, since they didn’t turn the lights off, and I spent the night staring at the very prominent video camera recording my every move.

Early the next morning they came and woke me up. Strangely enough, waking up was when the nightmare truly began. I was led out into a small room and that’s when I realized that Brightway was a co-ed facility. The girls were pretty, and they were around my age, and they were staring at me…and that’s when I remembered my current state of dress. Quite embarrassing. For a socially awkward 14-year old boy, it was devastating. I don’t even think people can imagine. A lot of bad things happened to me in my time in the program: isolation, torture, electrocution, tetanus. I rate this by far the worst. I’m sure I turned red as a beet. I wanted to crawl into a hole, preferably one very far away, and die, but I wouldn’t be let off the hook that easily. My appeals to the staff went on deaf ears, and I began to learn the very first lesson every new child must learn when entering a WWASP school: What must be endured, can be endured. And what cannot be changed (basically everything in the WWASP system), must be endured. That morning I also began my indoctrination into the WWASP rules system. The rules at Brightway were many in number and often complicated in application. Rules included asking for permission for literally everything, such as standing, sitting, talking, going to the bathroom, even burping. Talking to other students was not allowed, and looking out the window, any window, was a rule violation of the most serious kind. That got you put into the straps on that awful little bed that still haunts my memory. The most curious rule involved a restriction of travel. You had to be under the supervision of a staff member at all times, either in person or via the series of security cameras everywhere. The facility was broken into blocks of monitoring, delineated by the placement of pairs of small, round, brightly colored stickers near the floor at every doorway and at various places along halls and in corners. When you got to one of these stickers, you had to stop, and then yell the word “cross”. That would draw the staff’s attention, and once they were monitoring you, they would reply with “cross” and you could safely walk on to the next pair.

The next order of business was for me to be seen and evaluated by some sort of mental health type. I think he was a psychiatrist but I’m not sure and I never caught his name. I think it was Dr. Goates, but I can’t really remember. I mostly remember that we talked, and at the end of it, right in front me he pulled out this tape recorder and started dictating. What he said wasn’t very complimentary, things like that I was clearly in denial about my drug use (I wasn’t) and that I exhibited signs of defiance, and so on. I felt like what he was doing was extremely condescending and rude. I mean, to talk about someone like they aren’t even there, and to say rude and untrue things about them while you’re doing it isn’t exactly the height of good manners. I said something to him, and he blew me off and told me not to interrupt him. That’s when I got pissed. I admit, I blew up a little bit as all the anger, frustration, humiliation, and fear of the last day and a nalf came to a head. I started yelling and got in his face, and frankly, I was bigger than he was. I wasn’t going to hurt him, I just wanted him to stop, and that’s what I told him, but all the blood drained out of his face and he started yelling for help. The tech on duty ran in, quickly took in the situation, grabbed me, and dragged me out. That was the first time I was ever restrained in a WWASP program (it only happened one other time, I mostly kept my head down and toed the line.) I quickly found myself back in the little room marked “Seclusion” with the scary little bed that had the scary little straps and the big brother security camera watching everything.

I begged shamelessly not be strapped down, and they agreed, with the caveat that if I acted up at all not only were they going to come in and beat my ass and strap me down, they would also shoot me full of thorazine, and they told me the thorazine would make me “shit my pants” and then I would have to “lie in it all day.” I don’t know how long they left me in there. It probably wasn’t that long but it felt like years. I had nothing to do, the room was tiny and getting smaller fast, and I was scared out of my mind that any second they would come barging in to make good on their earlier threats.

However long it was, eventually they let me out, and they gave me my real clothes back. I could have kissed the guy. I went back and it was time to finish my indoctrination and training to be a good little WWASP student. I was told to write a letter to my parents, and so I did. It began, “Dear Mom and Dad,

Fuck you for doing this to me…” WWASP heals families….right, sure. I have no idea if that letter made it or not, since they read all our mail. I’m not even sure which I would prefer.

After the letter writing, it was time for school. Of course, in a short-term, transient type program like Brightway, school had little meaning since any work completed didn’t follow the student to their permanent facility. I believe the only point was to start getting kids used to WWASP-style school arrangements, namely working at your own pace, teaching yourself, and having no support from a teacher. So instead of actual schoolwork, we did book reports. I remember both reading The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway and writing the book report in under a day and the “teacher” being amazed. I did a ton of book reports while I was there out of sheer boredom. It was that or just pretend to be doing book reports, and I abhor having nothing to do.

The days gradually began to pass and blur together. They were giving me pills, lots of pills, even waking me up at night to give me more. I have no idea what they were, even to this day. I was never told. I never gave informed consent. They told me to take the pills, and in a WWASP school it is always advisable to do as you’re told, as I was quickly learning, so I took the pills. Besides, all the other kids were on tons of pills, too, so it didn’t seem so weird at the time. I think the pills were sedatives administered in order to keep us in line. I was so out of it the whole time I was there I don’t even know how long I was there.

I do remember Halloween passing, though. It went largely unremarked and uncelebrated except that I think we had to do some dumb arts and craft project that would have bored a 10-year old. Other than that, nothing as far as I remember. No costumes and no candy, no trick or treating. Almost no acknowledgment of the holiday at all. It was a pattern I was going to grow all too used to.

Finally my last day came, and I was to be shipped off to Samoa. There were 6 of us headed there, apparently quite a large group. The last night, they put us all in a room with a TV, which none of us had watched since our arrivals, and threw us a sort-of little party. They showed us movies all night. I remember watching “Stand By Me” and “Red Dawn.” We had to watch. No one was allowed to sleep. If anyone drifted off he was awakened, roughly if necessary. The gaiety began to leak out of the party. The next morning, still very early, they dressed us in our travel clothes: short blue shorts, white t-shirts, and flip-flops with white socks. We all knew the score. Those clothes were designed to make it hard to run, both by making us stand out and by, in the case of the socks and flip-flops, literally making it physically hard to run. They took us all outside, my first time since arriving, and put us in a van to take us to the airport in Las Vegas.

The drive back to the airport, just like the drive in, seemed to take forever, but at least the second time I could see the scenery. Being from Florida, I had never seen a desert before and had rarely seen mountains, cliffs, and hills like the ones I could see. All too soon, though, the drive was over and we were in Las Vegas. There was one more stop, however, and little did I know but involved one of the last acts of kindness I was to experience from the WWASP staff for years.

The van pulled into a gas station with a large convenience store. The staff members with us asked us what we wanted for our “last meals.” I don’t know what anyone else asked for, but I asked for Twizzlers and a Mountain Dew. I got Red Vines and a Dr. Pepper, but it was close enough. That was the last thing I hate in America for almost 2 years. Sometimes I still buy that combo as a snack and reminisce.

After that they got us out the van and into the airport, got our tickets, and took us to the gates, where armed guards awaited to both keep us from running or causing trouble and to thoroughly embarrass us since ever person who walked past just had to stop and gawk at us. Even worse awaited us at LAX, but that’s part of another story, not part of this one.

To sum up, Brightway was nothing more than a stopping-over point, a resting place for WWASP-bound travelers. It was designed to begin the pacification and breaking process while indoctrinating those in its care to WWASP rules, points, and level systems. It had no valid treatment, no teacher, and untrained staff. The rules were strange and harsh. It was not a hospital in any sense of the word. I gained nothing from my time there except a good idea of how to act in WWASP programs: keep your head down and always look busy. Brightway was closed in March 1998, the first WWASP program to be shut down, and in some way that’s fitting to me, since it was also the first WWASP program for so many students.

Sources:

Sunday, September 2, 2012

New film-project: Incident(s) At Paradise Bay

We have learned about a film-project related to the topics in this blog.

Where do the teenagers being transported end up and how are they treated?

In the film-project some of these questions will be answered.

You can support the film-project with your money. Today we see the result of the 90's tough reform schools and 3-strike politics. The tragedies have affected many families.

Any additional information which can inform the world about what took place will properly prevent similar tragedies in countries slowly adapting the methods used in the United States because they only see the marketing which was aired back. There is very little information offered about all those teenagers who lost their lives during their stay or took their lives because they found themselves too emotional damaged due to their experiences during their stay.

For more information you can consult the homepage of the film-project.

Link: Incident(s) At Paradise Bay

Thursday, August 9, 2012

EJ at Crook Creek Programs

This statement was given by "EJ" on the HEAL-online message board. All rights belong to the author.

It's been 8 years since I left Cross Creek and I still have nightmares. The mental damage has taken a long time to progressivly get better, but I am still a long way of mentally recovering from what happend to me and the abuse I watched other girls suffer at the hands of those who ran Cross Creek.

I first arrived in the little rural Utah town of LaVerkin in the gates of the ominous white building The manor. I was given 2 minutes to say godbye to my parents before being lead behind those 12foot tall gates that would be shut behind me for 2 years.

I was escorted by two large men "The Radios" they called them, to dorm hall and ito a room where a group of girls went through my possetions and threw away what was considered "contraband". The treated my head for lice (a 14 year old girl was made to do this) I was stipped and searched and made to shower as a staff watched me.

My parents told the director I was suicidal. I was and I was violent. I found out a few years after I left CCM, that I have Bipolar Disorder and the medication I am on now works. In the 2 years I was being "treated" at CCM both of my therapists failed to identify it. I was even sent to a specialist becuase like clockwork my moods would go from Up for several months to down for a month or two. The specialist said I had "Oppositional Defiant Dissorder" and that it would be benificial for me to stay in the program and complete the process.

My first night I had a manic outburst. I don't like feeling like a prisoner and that is exactly what CCM was, a prison. I flipped out and assulted a staff and in a panic tried to run away. I was beaten down by 4 large male staff members and dragged to isolation, a 5x8 cell made of concrete. They turn the AC down to about 65 degrees and take your shoes and socks and make you sit on your hands for 12 hours. You are only given peanut butter and bread with water twice a day, you shower as a staff watches you and then they let you out after all the rest of the girls are in bed. You can't see your therapist anything you do you must ask premission and the slightest infractin earns you a write up.

I lived in Iso for a month,I did not attend school the whole time even though it was in October when I went in there. Then when I was "good" I was allowed to join the other girls in the SH room. We were called Staff Buddy's since we were all being punished for various infractions. We were seperated from our groups and not allowed to even write our parents. We listed to tapes and filled out worksheets. You could not talk you had to ask permission to even scratch your head or take a drink from your water bottle. This is how they treated me for a serious mental illness.

If I acted up I was dragged up to the Iso and if I acted out in there, then a staff would come in and lay down on top of me. One guy was a 300+lbs Samoan man named Sam. He once laid on top of me restraining my arms with his knees in my calves for six hours. I had cuts and bruises. One time I had a nightmare and was screaming in my sleep. One of the Radios came in and grabbed me by the shirt collar litterally threw me off the top bunk bed and picked me up by one arm and dragged me up to the Iso. The man slammed me into ever wall we encountered. Nobody belived me, not my parents, my sister, nobody. Who is going to belive the words of a kid who got sent to a behavior modification center for doing drugs, having sex, attempting suicide and running away from home?

I finally just learned to lie and cheat my way through the rest of the program. I played the game, I pretended to cry when they wanted me to, I verbally abused lower level girls, I stabbed people in the back to make myself look better to the staff becuase I wanted to just get out of there. I did what I did to survive. I am cirrently in therapy and we are working on a lot of the memories of that place I have suppressed. It's cause me a lot of anxiety and stress. I learned nothing from that place. When I got out I did even more drugs to suppress the memories to kill the pain.

I didn;t get my act together until I got pregnant with my son 2 years ago. My son saved my life, the program just stole my mom's money even though they take all the credit for me being alive today.

Sources:

Friday, July 6, 2012

Matthew Crosson at Provo Canyon Academy

This testimony was given by Matthew Crosson on the message board belonging to HEAL-online. All rights goes to the Author

Wow after 20 years of pushing that time of my life in the back on my head it all comes back by my 6 year old asking me where i went to school.

I spent alot of time in facilities during my teens. Drug rehabs,boys ranches,places that seem to have taken the place of my parents being forced to deal with me. Out of all the places Provo Canyon was by far the worst.

I had my share of problems just like any other teen growing up in a poor household. But i was shipped away to Utah mainly for drug problems. My father would make my brothers and i roll his joints for him at our kitchen table and then we would steal his drugs from him. I couldn't understand how that could be a reason to ship me off when it was being promoted at my kitchen table. But that was my parents excuse for it all. I think it was a convient way to push me in back of their minds and let blue cross blue shield feed and house me.

I remember how i got there,it was recommended from a shrink i seen at a drug rehab that i escaped from. He told my parents that it was a private school that was better suited for my needs. They brought me to the airport gave me a 5 dollar bill and told me good luck. As soon as i got off the plane 2 huge escorts greeted me and brought me to their car. They made me get in usual pat down position and searched me right the and there. Took my cigs and my headphone and i never did see my misfits cassette again after that.

After a drive we reached my new home. Didn't look bad from outside with all the mountains and snow.Being from Houston tx i never seen snow so it was beautiful.Then boom i was inside with locks clicking behind me. I was taken to the nurse and they checked me for lice and the normal get naked and spread your legs and squat routine. After them taken my suitcase from me so they can go thru my things to make sure i had no contraband i was left with a few pairs of clothes. I wasn't allowed the photos of my girlfriend.

I was taken to my bunk later that eve. I remember the first thing i seen when i walked in was a huge somoian sitting behind a desk in the front of the room. It was a huge room with a lot of bunk beds they said was called level 1. The next day everyone got to go outside to hang out in this big field. They took me to meet my counselor Roy Burger was his name. I was escorted by this huge BYU football player named bud, who later on down the road i became one of his anger management releases. Roy told me i wasn't allowed outside until i reached a few level because i was considered a high escape risk due to me leaving the last treatment center. After him setting out a treatment plan for me all i could do was think im not going to get to go caving or outside at all for that matter. I was fucked! I remember asking to use a phone to call my parents and they refused me. Said i have to reach levels to do that.

I met this guy named Jordan Hall who ended up being the only bit of relief i could find in that place. Everything was going as decent as it possible could till a few days down the road i pissed them off because my bed wasn't made right. I don't remember if i got a warning or what but i do remember thats when i stood out and standing out in there isn't something you wanted. After that it just seemed like everything i did was incorrect to them. Thats when i became familiar with the word IPs.

The first time wasn't anything i just had to stand in a room with 15 or so others in one spot. One Ip then was equal to one hour if i remember right. After i served my Ips i was sent back to level one quarters. Being the smart ass teenager i was i knew i would be back there before to long. Especially since every time i opened my mouth or looked in the wrong direction i was back standing in the IP room. We was allowed to sit but you would only get half a Ips if you did. Before to long i racked up a hundred or so Ips and they completely removed me from level 1 quarters to Investment.

Wasn't a big deal to me since Jordan was sent there with me. But things started going really bad withing a hour or so after being there. There was a kid named Smalley there. He was just in so much trouble that he no longer gave a shit what they through at him. We was serving Ips and decided we would talk when the guard left. We got caught and i watched smalley talk shit to the guard for him saying our Ips didnt count. The guard grabbed Smalley by his throat and lifted him up off his feet against the wall. Then threw him down on the ground and they drug him away. I didnt see him for a few days after that but we was giving more Ips because we was told we was a disturbance.

Jordan and i talked and we decided we no longer wanted to be there and we needed to find a way out. But there was nothing we could do. We talked about jumping a guard and taking his keys that he wore on a belt loop and hitting the mountains. We was kids what can i say we just wanted out. But we didnt do anything. A few days later Smalley came back all fucked up. Crying saying they hit him and threw him in a cell. I didnt know they had cells. But jordan and i got lucky we was giving the chance to burn Ips by cleaning. Its was now our job to clean the seclusion cells and vacuum and whatnot. By that time we had managed more Ips than we could ever burn off. Just for dumb shit like talking.

I remember i asked for a bible and they handed me the book of mormon and jesus christ of latter day saints. I never even heard of a mormon until i made a joke and said moron and that got me my first ass kicking. It wasnt that bad just a few good punches from a guy named bud. A BYU football player huge guy. I was only 5'2 maybe 115 and i had this 300 pound gorilla beating the hell out of me. I kept my mouth shut after that for a few days and said fuck this i need to get outta investment. I never did seems like every breath i took would draw more IPs.

Smalley was always in trouble and locked away in seclusion i would get to see him whenever i would get to clean the vomit out of his cell.He had a unique talent of making himself vomit to get out of his cell for those few minutes. And jordan and i was the lucky one who got to clean it. Was better than standing IPs. See anything you could do to get a moment out of investment and the Ip room you would do just for the lil bit of time you would get to move around a lil bit. Jordan and i was cleaning his cell laughing cause we see undigested food in smalleys vomit. That was not very funny to our friends the guards apparently cause i ended up in seclusion later that eve. I remember the smell of stale vomit and the drain in the center of the floor. I needed to get out but since i wasnt allowed to make calls i had no way.

I wrote my parents a few times explaining to them that kids was getting hit and locked away in there,but i never got anything back.After my time in seclusion i was let back in investment. And i tried to just do my shit serve my Ips and get out of there but i was marked. The label as a fuck up was already on my forehead. I watched other kids get hit and held down with knees on their backs by these huge guards for just no reason what so ever. or at least none that deserves to be physically handled. I was placed on meds, i still have no idea what they are but they didnt really help me all they did was just make me tired. Being tired and standing Ips for hours wasnt a good mix. My brother Jordan came up to me later that eve and said he was being sent home and this was his last night. He was all i had to get thru this place and now my my friend was gone. They took him early in the morn before i was awake.

Being alone now i was really just wanting to get the fuck outta there and i made mistake of telling someone i was going to leave thinkig i was big shit because i escaped from the last place i could do it this time to.A ll i had to do was get to a phone. Bud was walking thru the hallway and i touched his keyring as he passed by me. I was vacuuming the hallways and he grabbed me by the hair and drug my face on the carpet for at least 10 to 15 feet. Then while on my chest screaming i had knees in my back holding me down. My face was on fire. I wasnt given any meds just placed in seclusion. I remember feeling my face pulling the skin tight as the rug burns started to become scabs. Roy burger got me the next day and i told him what happened and he said they was trying to keep me from escaping and that i was fighting while on ground. That was how my half my face got rugburned. How does a kid who weighs 115 at most fight a bunch of college linebackers. I mean enough for me to not be restrained enough to avoid that. Go figure so it was my fault apparently.

The rest of my time there was pretty much the same. I remember i was having kidney pains from a old injury to them i had when i was younger and i was urinating blood. It took them days of me begging to go to see a doctor before they finally took me to the hospital. But before then they tried give me a laxative to see if that would help. I had to insert a huge laxative in my ass in front of 3 or 4 people. Embarrassing but i finally made it to the doc and they also found out i had scoliosis. So hurray something came outta it. I was placed back in seclusion after that, i guess because they had to take the time to bring me to a hospital.I wasnt allowed in school anymore dint get to go swimming and sure as fuck didnt go caving. A year later i got called in roys office and was told my insurance stopped paying and i was going home.I was so fucking happy. I was processed out and on a plane home.

When i got home i told my parents what happened but they didnt believe me they was upset because i was home. But my insurance running out saved my life. Ty blue cross blue shield. i ran away from home and continued to smoke weed then one day i just grew out of it. I grew up on my own. I am now a father of 3 and i thank god that im a better parent. I look at my kids and think how can someone ship their kid off without investigating where they are going.Im not talking look at a pamphlet or have some shrink tell you its for the kids best. How can someone ship their child off cross country without even seeing where they are going first hand.I dunno but there was alot of us in that situation. We didnt have the internet then to gain access to information like we do now. I know i wasnt a good student there and that i probably deserved to be punished. But no one has the right to physically take matters into their own hands teh way these people who was being trusted to take care of us has. I have looked around the forum and i see many have gone thru the same and even worse. And i cant help but think we are survivors.

As a father a human and a survivor i will do all i can to bring PCS down in hope that no more go thru what we have.We survived for a reason lets make sure we end it to.Oh yea jordan i miss ya man. Im sorry this was so long but this is the first time i have sat down to even talk about this to anyone. I can now even 20 years later feel my blood pressure rise and the anger just coming up from just thinking about this. Thank you angela for extending yourself. I hope and pray this stops!Ty

Sources:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Afterall at Gateway Academy in Salt Lake City Utah

This story was originally written on the message board called the Fornits Home for Wayward Webfora. All rights and credits goes to the author known as Afterall:

In response to the reply from the parent whose child got kicked out of Gateway 2010. I was at gateway from Late 09 to mid 10. I spent six months at the program which is relatively short. Most people I knew would stay from 8-11 months. Fortunately I turned 18 and graduated high school so I had much leverage to leave. I spent 9 weeks at a wilderness program before being taken to Gateway. I got driven directly from wilderness to gateway by my wilderness therapist. Arriving at Gateway I was really happy not to have to sleep outside anymore. From then on I started noticing how messed up the place was. Everything was on a schedule and there was no flexibility and little to no freedom. In the mornings we would wake up and do "morning rec". This consisted of either dancing to "Sweating to the Oldies" or following a workout plan created by one of the obese Grave staff babysitters. This would be a anything ranging from step-ups to pseudo-yoga. You would have to follow every activity with a smile on your face or you would receive a lower grade on your shift sheet. Ranging from 1-4. (Shifts sheets help determine which level you could apply for).

After the morning rec you "line up in silence" and then go upstairs to shower. Someone who wanted a "4" on their shifts sheet would volunteer to time showers. A shower would be 3 minutes with the water on. As I said before everything is based on a schedule and routine. You would make your bed, get dressed, and then line up to go downstairs for breakfast. Most of the time that I was at Gateway there would be someone who would throw a tantrum and wouldn't leave their room so everyone would have to wait till another staff would arrive so we could all go downstairs.

School is three classes a day at 1.5 hours a day Monday-Friday. Many of the teachers seemed qualified and it's extremely difficult to not do your homework when you have so much support. I am happy for that one aspect of Gateway as I left with better grades that look good on a college transcript.

There's a mid-day "Mat Class" which is run by which-ever student wants a good score on their shift sheet. More yoga nonsense.

After school there is a 10-20 minute recess and then a 2 hour group. The group includes a check-in and then focuses on whichever inmates are the most fucked up that day/week. Includes "negative confrontations" aka some kid has beef with another kid, and "negative contracts" some kids talk shit or talk about not gateway appropriate topics. The entire program shapes the community into policing each other by "holding boundaries" aka tattle tailing anytime someone breaks any of the hundreds of rules.

So groups over, now its a recess and a study hall. Dinner. Then a study hall/freetime and after that a Evening group (I forgot what they call it.) People check-in, give feedback (tattle tale), and then write down a some shit about their day. Then off to bed.

The schedule at gateway is like that Monday through Thursday. Fridays have more groups and activities. Saturdays and Sundays we would go skiing, rock climbing, or to the recreation center.

Random shit: A lot of the time we could not go to the recreation center or out of the house due to one of the boys throwing a tantrum. There is a strict 1-4 staff-student ratio. All conversations must be heard by a staff "staff earshot"--- some staff were bigger dicks about that rule than others.

Phases:
  • Orientation: first week or two of arriving. No book reading, no social call with parents, can't talk to students Under Mapping with trust, no playing games without a staff. Can't be alone ever.
  • Mapping: Can play games, can't talk to students Under Mapping with trust, no books besides self-help, 10 minute social call with parents (with staff on phone), on campus parent visits.
  • Mapping with Trust: Takes a month to 6 months to make. 15 min social calls w/ staff. Can read books. Can talk to any student. 6 hour off campus parent visits.
  • Cairns: 2 months to 6 7 months to make. Can "roam" with staff permission (walk around house alone). Walks outside of house. 20 minute parent calls without staff. Ipod. Overnight visits. Go on facebook with therapist.
  • Path: No shift sheet. Longer Parent calls. Can talk to the public.
  • Gateway: Final phase. Other random privileges.

Punishments:
  • Block: Piece of paper with punishment on it. You swear= you write a paper. Punishment up to staff discretion. 4 blocks=off phase.
  • Off Phase: Can only talk to the upper phases, lose some privileges.
  • Off track: if you mess up. Can't talk to anyone even staff. Sometimes kept in room all day with a staff. Have to do assignments to get back on track. Can be put off track for going on the internet, fighting staff, relapsing, or constant negativity. Basically a solitary/segregation punishment.

Finally: So that was probably a shit ton to read. I probably left a bunch out. These type of programs put the parents against their child. You don't know what to do with your kid so you sent them away, so who do you trust? The therapist or the kid? The therapist will try to keep your child as long as possible and even suggest a Transitional Living Program if your child is not committed to being sober.

My aftermath. I was at Gateway for six months. I made the Cairns phase but left the program "off-track" as I had been involved in an incident a week before. I threatened to leave the program when put off track as I was 18. My therapist called the Transitional Living I was supposed to go to and had them tell me I would not be accepted if I left gateway before my release date a week later. My parents would not let me come home. Well two months down the line I had been at the Transitional Living and was told I would have to stay 4 months longer. So I left and went on a drug binge. I was sent to a wilderness again. Now I live at home a smoke marijuana a bunch, and do not work or go to college as of yet. If you're rich Gateway is good daycare/jail and can lead to more money down the drain. Is your "marijuana addicted teen" worth 150k? I think not....

Sources:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Testimonies from Danes

At the blog called Vidnetsbyrd fra det mørke asyl which can be translated as Testimonies from the dark asylum, Danes will tell how they experienced their stay at Danish group homes, boarding schools or treatment centers.

United States is far from the only country in the world where children suffer when they are forced to live outside their family home. It is time to deal with the abuse worldwide.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Reflextions: Water at Gateway Academy in Salt Lake City Utah

This story was originally written on the message board called the Fornits Home for Wayward Webfora. All rights and credits goes to the author known as Water:

I don't know where to begin. I have read the past few posts, and almost cannot believe the experiences some of my fellow Gateway-ers say they've had. I'm am really sorry your experiences were so bad. I know how it feels not to have some last resort program do no good for you, and it is an awful feeling. I'm sorry.

That being said I would like to put in my own two cents. It is true Gateway is not for everybody. Let me outline, through my experience of going through the program (and even briefly working there) my thoughts on the matter. As there is no other means but to believe me through my own word, I would like to say I will be as unbiased and I can be, which I think can be objective.

  1. Your child must have a strong sense of yearning to get better (whether shown inside or not.)
  2. Your child must not be overly aggressive.
  3. Your child must have some sense of social skills within their conscience.
  4. Your child should be agreeable to some extent in character, since he will be living in such close quarters with other students.
These are the major things I can think of, and here I will elaborate what necessitates each.

  1. No matter what the staff says or the help the therapists offer, or the medication the psychologist prescribes, if your son has not even shown an ounce of a desire to get better, again, no matter what is done, he will not improve. I would again like to reiterate these are just thoughts, as much as the other poster's are. In a program so in depth as Gateway, each helping hand can be interpreted real easily as an attack on character, or personal rights, or whatever justifies they're anger. I have seen many students drown and go down in a spiral this way, as once you do bad, it's real easy to continue to do so because of the punishment system that is involved. It is just too easy to think, "I'm doing do fucking bad, there's no point to trying in this place anymore." Now that I think about it, as crude and unfortunate as this is, this program is almost a luck of the draw, of whether your son is compatible or not. If he is, then he WILL get better, in one way or more or maybe even turn out a new person. But on the other hand, as behavioral disorders and other problems are so complex, the program may only scratch the surface. In other ways, kids may even turn out worse, but if this is the case, he will most likely be taken out of the program by management because it is so obvious the place isn't working for him.

    With even an ounce of a yearning to get better, the programs offers -- and almost forces -- tools for the student to improve. It is largely a process dependent on the son. Your son should also be patient to a degree, because it does take time for the rules and other things to settle in actually have a chance for it to improve him. I will say this with concreteness, however; the management and staff, at least most of them, do care for the kids. However, let me also add this. The staff changes in quite a quick term, due to their own educational reasons and such, that this too is a luck of the draw. If your son takes a liking to a particular staff and the staff seems to really help him, this one staff can potentially make all the difference. Remember, the staff there, however temporary, are the ones supervising and guiding the students to follow the rules. They are the ones that do directly influence the students, other than the other students themselves. This also is almost a luck of the draw, that is, the other students there. I learned as much from the staff, maybe even more, from the other students. They taught me qualities I admired in them; they taught me about their home towns, their unique skills; their whole being. Remember the students spend 24/7 with the other students. They live and breathe the other students. They eat together, sleep together, time each other's showers, make sure they follow rules, and almost a militaristic comradeship is born between them. It can also act in reverse. I've seen many students not succeed in the program because they had trouble with one other students -- either a feud/nemesis or maybe a buddy to ruminate and retaliate against 'the system' with.

    It is, unfortunately, largely luck, again. I will try to highlight aspects that were not concerned with luck however, pertaining to the program.
  2. If your son is overly aggressive, and against any form of 'superior' being, and hates all living things, etc. etc., it may be difficult for him to adjust in a setting consisting mostly of rules, rules, rules, and some more rules. However, in between the spaces of rules there is a community, a culture built of a relational web between the house, the staff, the students, the therapists, and time. The long period of impending ten months, or just about, or just over, or who knows how long. This is scary stuff. My first day, I was pooping in my pants, metaphorically speaking of course. Imagine being faced with a prison, surrounded by more than a dozen unfamiliar faces, and even more unfamiliar rules, and even more unfamiliar adult faces, and maybe add to the fact the last few months were spent possibly in a wilderness program or another in-patient program. It is enough to make Clint Eastwood shed a fearful tear. It is enough to make him squeak at least.

    To go back to the topic of aggression, verbal aggression or physical aggression is the easiest way to fail in this program. To have such a heavy problem that the student can't get (in any sense) in touch with himself is the worst thing I've witnessed in the place. It is so sad I feel something in my chest thinking about it now. One good indicator is, if the student has improved during the stay at wilderness or the previous program before Gateway, there is a good chance, I'm guessing here, that he will continue to improve at Gateway. Gateway is more of a soft program than other inpatient places that seem like wards compared to it, but it is quite condensed either way. If your son is retaliatory and has no desire to get better, and quite frankly, is immature, he will not succeed at Gateway.

    Gateway program in my thoughts, requires a disciplined student, almost so much so that it is scary to think they request that from a person so troubled as to have to be sent here. But at the same time perhaps that is the point -- to implore discipline to your son that you could not. To hope that someone, or something else could get through to your son in a way that you could not. Discipline to avoid trouble, to get used to the rules, to somehow get better, to somehow enjoy even the slightest of joys (however slim) offered in the program, to make best of the situation, to make healthy friendships in light of the circumstances: This is almost too much to ask for a student. But to those who can handle it, they will transform. Maybe in a small way, but for me, it was in small enough way to become a literal gateway to trying to solve my problems. It gave me a platform to leap from, to build upon, to get to higher ground.
  3. and 4) Your child must be to some extent agreeable. Other wise, he will not make friends here, and without being liked or liking another as a friend here in this program is detrimental. It can become very lonely, very easily here in this program. It is real easy to say to oneself, "These people suck, I want to be with my old friends, I don't need this place, no one likes me here anyway, I'm getting out no matter what." As normal as this is in the beginning stages, this thought process will continue if he doesn't make friends, or if he doesn't get along with the others. In fact, not getting along with others most certainly compounds the issue. Even one friend, better yet two, can make a huge difference in accepting the program as barely a necessity. And once that door is open within his mind, somehow he becomes accustomed to the program, and he gradually sees himself rising in phases, and quite faster than he realizes, has graduated and witnessed a tear flowing from his father's eye, a tear of relief and joy. I'm describing my own circumstance here, of course, not everybody's, but just mine, and a few other students as well, whose graduations I've witnessed.

I don't know a lot about the program from a management perspective, but only from an emotional one, and that tends to be subjective, which I apologize for, but that's how my mind works, and the above I think is my attempt at putting those to words. One should be extremely cautious of placing their son anywhere, but at the same time, they should think of the risk of not putting their son anywhere. For me, it took a suicide attempt, an hospital in-patient program, a teen in-patient program, an out-patient program, and me quitting the out-patient program, and a few forced visits to an educational consultant for me to suddenly be forced awake at 2 am in the morning to fly to Utah state, where at the time I had no idea was on the map. This wasn't to gateway though, it was to another, more extensive in-patient program. Then finally I went to gateway. In less words, it took quite a while for my destination to be chosen, almost I think by Chaos Theory more than anything, to have, in my opinion, the good fortune to land in Gateway. I was relatively calm, had severe depression, had severe social anxiety, and some OCD and slight ADD I was not aware about at the time. I came out with a few close bonds and experiences in nature I probably can't forget even if I wanted to; canyoneering, whitewater rafting, hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, bouldering, camping, snowboarding, and many other activities with companions I lived with and breathed with for ten months. Of course many graduated, many were kicked out, and many new ones [students] came in, until I found myself to be the most-veteran there. I was lucky enough to be among those where the program succeeded, persay, in that I graduated with one block the whole program and was fortunate enough to get to Gateway phase. The rules of the program were succinctly and trivially detailed in a previous post, and I thank him for that, as those were similar guidelines to the situation I was put through. The rules do change, however, and so do the countless other factors, for better or for worse. The program does have a marginal amount of flex on account for every student, as each is radically different most times.

It is true, the Richard Simmons did get on my nerves. I cringe every time I hear "Peggy Sue" thanks to the experience.

I think what kept me different from the other kids there was my strong desire to improve, to know I could improve, maybe, if I tried hard enough. I cried many times, I thought of death many times, I went crazy in my head a couple times, I lost a sense of self and control of myself as well. It was largely a battle with myself. Luckily I was disciplined enough toward myself where i had relative ease following the rules. I actually didn't mind them that much at all. I was also not too greedy either, which helped allow things to flow around me more than create waves. -- life in Gateway was in many ways tough enough as it was to create any new drama.

Now that i think back on it, there was just an over-abundance of time. And to a person who isn't dedicated, that is as deadly as a two-sided scalpel. Essentially ten months of time, other kids with problems, random adults, a some-what qualified (but definitely dedicated) therapist (although this position too could change [and let's face it, the therapist is a HUGE part of the success or recovery],) random outings (sometimes lasting a week straight,) long group therapy sessions almost every day, more time, eating around a huge table, chores, time, school, time, time, sleep, time. I'm not listing the schedule here, I'm trying to express the significance of emptiness one may feel at the program. It's not that nothing is being done, it is that it feels as if everything being done is nothing, as life is largely routine, and you're directed to activities and the next part of the day like a herd of sheep. It is what the student decides to do with the time he has to himself, and to self-preservation within the program, that largely dictates his success, I think. I feel like I'm using pretty words here with little concrete meaning, and I think I'm absolutely right; my words have little meaning. It's almost as if I want to say, you'll never know until you put your child behind the facilities walls, whether he will 'make it' or not. It's quite an expensive risk, to further confuse the matter. Is your situation dire enough to constitute the risk? I suppose I'll leave this post with that question, as I could go on and on about this place, as it seems I have already droned. So; is your situation dire enough to constitute the risk?

Let me add one last point; the managers of the program I believe will stay the same, despite the frequent changes in other member of the faculty. And I honestly know very, very little about them. At times, it is as if they don't quite care directly what the progress within the program is, but this is purely speculation based on the fact that the managers -- or should I say owners -- are rarely on site of the facility. While I was there, early in my stay, they were running a decent place. I suppose that is all I can say.

Note: I was at the Salt Lake house. The "Victorian" house. The house makes a large difference, more than one would expect, but that is also speculation, as I haven't really spent any significant portion of the program at the other house. I could say this however; the large Draper "ranch" house seemed a lot more "institution" rather than "home" (I spent one night there, as well as many, many short visits) while the Salt Lake house's almost too-confined quarters made for more rapid social interaction, which could be a good or bad thing, but it was more home-like. It does many times feel quite stuffy, however.

It does pain to me stop reminiscing of those days spent in there, as it was an intense experience and there's so much more to say, but that may very well be my OCD speaking. Okay good bye.

P.S.; these are opinions, my thoughts, but my experience is as real as the pulse in your heart. Take it for a grain of salt; better yet, a pinch of salt; maybe even a bag of salt, if you are so kind as to let these few words guide you in anyway. Agree or disagree, thank you for the giving me your time in reading. I hope at least one of you gets something out of this post -- I sure did.

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Xandir at Cross Creek Programs - Part 3 (From: Reddit.com)

The author known as Xandir gave permission to have her story published on the webpage Reddit. All rights belong to the original author.

.....Continued from Part 2

The program director and other administration on several occasions acknowledged that Tranquility Bay, another WWASP program that has now much to my relief been shut down, did indeed have an infamous history of reported abuse. He used this to say that we were so very “fortunate” to be in Cross Creek and not at programs like that. Yet kids who were “acting out too much” at Cross Creek were sent to Tranquility Bay as punishment. Some have said that Tranquility Bay was merely a “last resort” or that the things that happened at TB were just a “part of Jamaican culture” but I would have to strongly disagree about both of those things. Since when is abuse ever an appropriate option? It isn’t. No matter what someone has done, it’s not okay. It is also extremely racist and ethnocentric to say that abuse is just a part of the culture of Jamaica, especially when you look at American society, which I could very well say the same thing about.

Shortly after I left the program I was raped. I shared what happened with my mother, who then told me, like Cross Creek did, that it was my fault, I asked for it, and that I should have known it would happen. She then proceeded to share her own twisted version of the story with my Cross Creek therapist, who shared it with my group. I was mortified and my self-esteem was completely destroyed by this utter lack of confidentiality and complete betrayal of trust.

It has taken me so much time to recover and de-program myself from all of the lies I was fed at Cross Creek. It took me a while to realize just how badly and inappropriately I and others had been treated at this facility. It’s not to say that there were not a few small kernels of wisdom that I can still use from the program, but they came at such a huge cost. My soul feels wounded from the things I saw and experienced at Cross Creek and healing will be a continual process.

If there was one thing that I gained from my experience at Cross Creek, it was realizing that no one regardless of their past or current actions deserves to be treated the way this program and other WWASP facilities treated me and so many other students. Abuse is abuse, no matter how you slice it. This realization along with other life experiences is partially responsible for my current carreer path regarding abuse prevention and recovery, as well as my involvement and activism in the human rights movement.

Even if you choose not to believe me or anything that I have written, there are piles of evidence to support the idea that there is mistreatment at Cross Creek and other WWASP affiliated facilities. A little bit of research will reveal that this lawsuit is not the first that WWASP or Cross Creek has faced. My therapist used to use a phrase when he suspected that kids were “dirty in their program.” He used to say “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire...” That is certainly the case with WWASP and Cross Creek. There is a reason that the Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse, Community Alliance for The Ethical Treatment of Youth, and many other organizations like them exist. There is a reason why seventeen WWASP affiliated schools have been shut down. There is a reason there have been so many lawsuits. Clearly if all of this has happened, I must not be completely insane.

The rebuttal against this argument has included that Cross Creek is no longer a part of WWASP. This argument is pretty much void seeing as they are still directly affiliated in that all of the WWASP affiliated programs still use the same seminars as each other, the same escort service, the same billing company, and are all still a part of Teen Help LLC, the marketing arm of WWASP and the entity that processes admissions paperwork. They also refer to each other and send children to other WWASP affiliated facilities when one facility can’t handle them. I don’t think it would be at all presumptuous to conclude that the people who ran WWASP are the same people who are still raking in all of the money with these programs.

WWASP officials claim that the organization itself is out of business, probably because of their infamous history of abuse, but clearly all of the WWASP programs are still affiliated and WWASP has not completely faded out. Many schools have changed their names multiple times, including Cross Creek (formerly Browning Academy) and it’s clear to me that there is a lot of shadiness and hiding goes on with in these programs. It seems as though WWASP and it’s affiliates are trying to sweep some things under the rug, and outright lie to parents, students, former students, and the general public.

Here’s a bit about the history of WWASP and Cross Creek. WWASP was founded by Robert Browning Lichfeild. He started Browning Academy, now Cross Creek, the first WWASP affiliated school in 1987, at a time when he had little money and was living in a small apartment with his wife and four children. His field of study was in business (he attained absolutely no credentials or education in psychology, therapy, or education) though he never graduated college and within several years he had become a very rich individual and had added many more schools to his chain of “behavior modification”/”tough love” schools. He was indeed mormon and has, in several interviews stated that God was his inspiration in starting these schools and one of his goals was to “get kids in touch with their higher source.” He is also a major contributor to the Republican party, donating thousands of dollars each year http://www.city-data.com/elec2/elec-LA-VERKIN-UT.html. From what I’ve read his massive sum of money and big political influence have gotten him and his colleagues out of the situations in which he and his criminal organization have been questioned. But please, do not take my word for it. Do your own research. This information is readily available to those who are willing to look.

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Xandir at Cross Creek Programs - Part 2 (From: Reddit.com)

The author known as Xandir gave permission to have her story published on the webpage Reddit. All rights belong to the original author.

... Continued form part 1

In addition to shaming people on basis of sexual orientation, they taught children that sex was evil and damaging outside of marriage, another blatantly religious notion. We were forced to regularly watch videos involving horror stories of abortions gone wrong, shown gruesome pictures of STDs that had been left unattended for long periods of time, and told that if we had sex before marriage we would likely die or get some horrible ailment. Rather than promoting safer sex methods, we were shown that abstinence was the only option that would not result in death or unwanted pregnancy.

Rigid gender roles were also a big part of the Cross Creek way of life. Many of the rules were extremely gender based. Boys were allowed to crack their backs and knuckles, though girls were not because it was “unladylike”. Boys got meal portions double the size of girls. Boys were allowed to use more curse words than girls were. The list goes on.

I remember when they moved the girls from Center 1 to Pro 1 (these are all names of the dorms we stayed in.) The boys had been living in Pro 1, and when they moved the girls in the dorms were extremely messy. Rather than having the boys come back and clean up this mess, they made the girls clean all day. This was completely, and totally humiliating. What a great way to build confidence and teach girls how to be independent and stand up for themselves.

Before I say this next part, I want to state that it is not my intention to bash all of the staff at Cross Creek. Some of the staff were very supportive (A.D., M.C., etc.) and this is not in any way meant to be directed at you, nor is it a blanket statement. There were staff however, that made me feel very unsafe and uncomfortable. Some of the staff, in my opinion, were downright cruel, hurtful and borderline (if not blatantly) abusive. I can’t tell you how many times I saw staff make comments about myself or others insinuating that we were bad children, unclean, impure, dirty, not innocent, untrustable, the list goes on. The grievance system that was in place was, in my opinion, ineffective on the whole. From being a part of the student government system for some time that handled grievances, I observed that grievance system, like everything else at Cross Creek, put the blame on the student and diverted responsibility away from the adult.

I’d also like to mention how many times I saw staff and administration, tackle and restrain children when it was completely unnecessary. So many times I saw kids simply refuse to go to gym class or get out of bed and as punishment they were violently tackled, restrained in a painful position, and taken to a small isolation room where they were usually watched by two or three staff members. This was also what they did when a child harmed themselves. This method is extremely violent, and I remember at least one incident that happened when I was there where they tackled a girl and restrained her face down against the ground and as a result she got rug burn on her face to the point that she was bleeding and had visible scabs on her face. Another time a girl shared that being tackled and restrained gave her flashbacks of a rape she’d experienced, to which the program director responded that he felt no remorse for it and that it was really her fault for doing what ever she’d done to be restrained. You could argue that this might be appropriate in cases where a kid is being violent towards others, but from what I saw, more often than not, this was absolutely not the case and the child being restrained was not being violent. In addition to tackling and restraint being (in my humble opinion) immoral, it is unsafe, and this has been proven. If you look on the website for the Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse, (Organization under reorganizing) You can see a long list of deaths that have occurred in “behavioral modification” facilities not unlike Cross Creek as a result of tackling and restraint: Holy the Children Memorial; also GAO Report: Concerns Regarding Abuse and Death in Certain Programs for Troubled Youth.

Cross Creek’s methods of “therapy” and recovery were also extremely invasive, humiliating, and in my opinion did much more harm than good. As someone who does intern work at a local rape treatment center and talks with victims of assault on a regular basis, as well as being someone who has survived various forms of violence and abuse, I have seen how damaging it can be to force someone to share about such delicate issues before they are fully prepared and ready. I can not speak for every one, but for me, being forced to disclose information that was not ready to come out was extremely painful and humiliating. The seminars based your success on how “emotional” you were, meaning that if you did not share some horrible part of your life or simply did not have one, or if you were not crying and sniveling while you did it, you were booted out of the seminar and forced to stay in the program another two months. The obsession the program had with “accountability” also led to them blaming people who had experienced abuse for their abusive situations. I vividly remember a facilitator yelling at a girl while kicking her out of a seminar for not participating or being “real” enough. She told her in an extremely vivid and foul language (the f-bomb included) that if she continued the behavior that got her to the program she would be raped again. She had the student write an essay on this.

I will forever be haunted by the day that I was in group and the program director barged in and started saying that it’s as if I have “ABUSE ME” written on my forehead, insinuating that I was just asking to be abused in some way by the way that I carried and presented myself. I carry so much shame from this comment, and because of it constantly have to remind myself not to blame myself for the abuse I have experienced.

The way that Cross Creek taught me to interact with people was to analyze every facial expression, action, and word, and reflect this back to them in a cold, harsh, and usually demeaning way. I feel so much remorse for the way I treated people at Cross Creek, as well as the way I allowed people to treat me. It took me a while after I graduated to discover that this method did not work at all in the real world, and that if I was to have any friends, I would need to drop the robotic, unempathetic, and borderline malicious way of interacting with others that I had learned to use for two and a half years. I’d like to sincerely apologize to those of you who spent time with me at Cross Creek that I treated this way. I feel nothing but sadness when I realize how heartless and programmed I became.

What disturbs me more than anything is that I believed all of the things I was told. When people use the word “brainwashing” to describe what went on at Cross Creek and other WWASP programs, I don’t think it is in any way exaggerating or being over dramatic when you consider all of the media we were FORCED to watch, read, and listen to. The program director used to joke about and downplay the brainwashing claims by saying that some of our brains “could really use some washing.” The “educational/emotional growth” videos we had to watch twice a day, the “motivational” tapes three times a day, the “self-help” books we were forced to read, and more than anything the “motivational seminars” with facilitators up in your face yelling about all the things you did wrong to mess up your life and land yourself in a program all contributed to this. With all of this influence coming at me from every direction at every moment I believed that following the rules, “working my program”, going to the seminars, etc. was genuinely going to improve my self esteem, my relationship with my parents, and the overall outcome of my life. I tried hard to follow the endless list of rules, be “accountable”, and when I got “dirty in my program” (another good example of shaming lingo and language that means you broke rules without giving yourself demerits) I would confess and take the consequences what ever consequences were involved.

I by no means had a perfect program, but I gave it all of my honest effort and did what I could to be a good Cross Creek student. By putting faith in this system however, I also internalized all of the stigma, shame, and religious beliefs forced upon me. I believed that maybe if I just suppressed my sexuality , as well as ignored my obvious attraction to girls, that maybe all of this would go away. My body and subconscious reacted to this. Shortly after arriving at Cross Creek, I stopped getting my period for about 8 months. This was apparently a common thing that happened in the program when girls first arrived, as the body was reacting to some serious stress. I also started wetting the bed shortly after arriving at the program. This had not been an issue for me since the age of 3 or 4. This bed wetting issue continued until I left the program. After I graduated, it stopped completely.

To be continued in part 3....

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Xandir at Cross Creek Programs - Part 1 (From: Reddit.com)

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....

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