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
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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