This testimony was found on the message board, which belonged to Fighting Institutional Child Abuse Network. All rights goes to the original author "jburns123 " I was at the village from age 17-19 (just shy of two years) after my parents died and I went to live with my aunt, uncle, their three kids and didn't adjust well. I was depressed and they did not know how to handle depression/refusal to attend school. They tried the best they could but overreacted, as most parents (parental figures) do and sought professional help. My therapist suggested they send me to a residential treatment facility and one of the only ones taking teens who were almost 18 was Peninsula Village. I consented because I knew I needed some type of help and had no idea what Peninsula Village was plus I figured I would be home in three months anyway (once I was a legal adult).
My experience was very similar to Vanilla Gorilla's and it was surreal to such a unique, yet different tale from a stranger. I too was brought onto the locked unit, strip searched immediately, told not to speak to anyone, placed on a pull out bed in the front of a large room with twenty-something other beds/empty bodies, yet not allowed to speak or look at another soul all day. I kept thinking my first day that I would be allowed to watch TV, get on the Internet, even play a game or take a nap but it never happened. I guess it was only normal to expect something to happen when one is never told what to expect. I was never told what was going on once. No one told me the rules really or said we weren't allowed to eat before a certain time and if we messed up we got into trouble. It was like we were expected to know everything immediately and read minds.
We had group therapy twice a day, meals three times, chores multiple times a day, and the occasional group activity that taught a 'life skill' every week. I don't ever remember having fun on that locked unit. The process is that you get to transition out to the cabins for the full experience and I remember transitioning out after only one month but I got scared and pretended to "run" during transition. We were going to our cabin for group therapy and I literally ran around the cabin and fell to the floor. I wasn't trying to go anywhere, just make a scene. It was enough to get the air horn blown, tackled by several adults, put into a restraint jacket, then brought back onto the locked unit where I was forced to use a bedpan while I was menstruating (sorry for graphics but it was disgusting). I ran because I thought maybe they would keep me on the locked unit and not send me to the cabin portion if I acted out in the second part. I had seen other girls stay their duration on the locked unit and never once go to the cabin program because it suited them better. I liked that idea because I saw how intense the cabins were. The consequences became physical (push ups, sit ups, even football work outs were used like three-points and wall sits), responsibilities increased, level system broadened, and everything was much more intense and fast-paced.
Anyway, I saw girls leaving after six months and was sure I wouldn't be there long, especially since I was going out to the cabins so soon. I mention this because I feel Peninsula Village kept me there a ridiculous amount of time, forcing me to make up stories as well then using them against me because I wasn't there on my insurance's dime but the money my dad left for me in his will. I actually ended up having to use all of his money on Peninsula Village because I was there for so long and they just kept telling my aunt and uncle that I needed it and wasn't ready to come home. However, fellow 'inmates' were leaving well before me and had far more things to work on, I felt. I was with another girl whose father was a government official and could afford to send her anywhere. It seemed quite interesting that she was there longer than I was...no insurance helped her either. Another girl had horrible self-harm issues, still being sent to the restraining room every few days but after only three months she was miraculously cured. They literally said she was just a 'special girl' (or did insurance stop?).
When I walked through the doors of Peninsula Village at 17, I was depressed, sad, angry, and withdrawn, but I was not a drug addict, alcoholic, self mutilator, nor did I have any type of eating disorder. At 24, I can say I have more issues now than ever and many stemmed from that facility. There was no legitimate reason I was at PV for such a long time, so they asked me to give them one. I couldn't remember my childhood, so they filled my empty memories with things they thought sounded good.
They told me my dad and mom were abusive. They weren't satisfied until I told them what they wanted to hear. What they wanted to hear were some insane stories. I feel like this is child abuse, especially when it is used to get money. It has caused a huge rift between my aunt, uncle, and me because they don't know what to believe. I had to discuss these awful accusations about my uncle's favorite sister to him on the phone and pretty much broke his heart. After coming home, I explained that it was made up because of the facility's need to hear those things. You can only imagine what my family could believe and how it effects us to this day.
Sorry for this droning but occasionally it is healing for me and others.
Thank you for listening. Hope it has helped someone, somehow.
Best of luck to everyone.
The original testimony from the Fighting Institutional Child Abuse Network message board