Long Time Gone… My Journey to High Impact…

Survivor Testimony of High Impact Tecate, Mexico 2002

By Amy Teichman
I guess you can say I was one of those out of control teenagers to end up being sent away to a lock down facility in Utah. Which may I add was not as bad as it may sound. No, hell came in the form of the second lock down facility I was sent to. High Impact was located in the desert hills of Tecate, Mexico. I was forced to stay there for six months until my only relief was turning 18 and aging out. I suppose I didn’t make any of it any easier on myself by continuing to fight against the authority figures there, but I did so mostly out of fear. If I didn’t fight, I would be giving up. And giving up could possibly have meant an even more desperate situation… I am going back to that place, mentally not physically. The place where I was held captive for six months of my life when I was 17. Unable to look up to even see the blue sky and clouds about me or even talk to the other girls that I was locked up with. This is my account of the time I spent at High Impact in Tecate, Mexico, no one elses…

I remember Ron, the head honcho at Cross Creek manor, waking me up and telling me to get my stuff together I was leaving. I had been at cross creek manor for a year and had not been “working the program” as they called it so Ron felt that more drastic measures were needed, and apparently High Impact was what he had recommended to my parents and they bought into it… I mean why wouldn’t they? They were paying the company that was housing me in Utah good money to “rehabilitate” me into a working member of society. What happened over the next six months was absolute horror. To this day, some ten years later, I have not opened up to my aunt or my parents about what life was like in Mexico. They do not ask and I do not bring it up. The physical scars that remain are bad enough, but the emotional ones will never go away, they are forever etched into my mind and my soul.

Over the course of the six months that I was there, I endured and witnessed many other teens like myself enduring the worst torture. Now I want to say this right now, I will never say an unkind word or drag Cross Creek Manor through the mud, but the treatment at High Impact must be made public. We were not being properly fed, we were dirty, we had no running water in the bathrooms, only cold water for showers, a “sink” outside with a wash board bottom where we were given a bar of soap to wash what few clothes we had once a week if we were lucky. Everyday, just like the one before, dragged out with pain and mistreatment, feeling that we were not even worthy of being able to look anyone in the eyes, made to feel that we were no longer people, just some pathetic animals that got tossed to the side. When ever I would look up, all I would see was the sadness in my fellow “inmates”eyes. We were the forgotten children. People thought we were so bad but in reality, we were just scared children who just wanted to be CHILDREN! We had our innocence abruptly stripped away.

Mornings began early in Mexico. Before the sun had risen in the sky and the air was still touched with a chill. No time to waste. There were chores to be done. After forming a line to use the restroom and brush our teeth, we were divided into three groups to do our morning chores. One group would be cleaning the outer area and using a rake to rake lines where we were not supposed to step without getting a consequence. Another group had to clean the small, dingy cement walled bathroom area that housed two of the most disgusting toilets that I have ever seen. Toilets that didn’t flush, we had to haul in large buckets of water to hoist above and dump into the toilets forcing all the contents down into the septic tank. And the last group was in charge of getting the inside of the tent/sleeping area swept and the breakfast cooked. Okay, I mentioned breakfast. To this day, again it has been ten years, I cannot for the life of me stomach plain oatmeal… All of our meals were cooked over a fire. For breakfast, a bowl of plain oatmeal, no sugar, milk or anything like that. If you were good, you would get an apple or an orange. Lunch was a bowl of beans and rice. Again, I now have an ability to eat pinto beans and plain rice. And also again, we were not given salt or pepper or any other type of seasoning. Dinner consisted of a boiled chicken thigh, rice and either zucchini or a tomato if you were good. You have no idea how many people have told me how much I need to grow up because of certain things I will not eat due to my experience at high impact. Certain smells even trigger memories of the place. Some mornings I have smelled burning wood and had a flash back to my time at high impact.

I think it would be safe to say that I was one of the **Ahem** more challenging cases that Papa Miguel had to deal with as I am very stubborn and headstrong and continued to not work the program and found myself doing the last 4 months of my time there in the cages. The “cages” were about 6 feet squared and for many hours I was forced to lay on my stomach in the sun with my chin shoved down in the hot sand. I still have a scar on my chin from the six months spent there. That scar will always be there. My daughter has asked me about it. I told her never to worry about it… It was from when mommy was younger. I would never want my daughter to go through what I went through over those six months that I was confined in Mexico. Being told that you cannot use the bathroom, being forced to sit in the sun after drinking the Mexican tap water until the inevitable happened. It seemed that the more they tortured us, the more they were enjoying it. Shortly after I aged out of High Impact, the American FBI and Mexican Officials closed High Impact after an under cover investigation. No more teens will be forced to endure the torture that some of us did…

Ten years later, I am still haunted by the memories of my time in boot camp, but it was an experience that has helped shape who I am now. I would not change anything in my life. Even my time in Mexico. I am thankful for the amazing girls that I met because of this experience, many of whom I still talk to. The only thing that I really want to stress is that this is MY story. This is MY voice being heard. This is something that I have needed to do for a while. I have needed this to be told, to no longer hold it in. This is who I am and I am proud that I overcame and survived…

One Response to “Long Time Gone… My Journey to High Impact…”

  1. Lindsay Norsa Says:

    Hi Amy,

    Thank you for your story, I am also a survivor from High impact bootcamp. I was sent there when I was 15 in 2001. It’s inspiring to know that there is someone speaking out from the injustice that was high impact and that women are speaking out about what happened to us.

    Thank you.



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