Sunday, December 22, 2013

Raine at Happiness Hill Ministries

I was there in the mid 90s, and I wouldn't call it a "great place". It was supposed to be run along the lines of the Roloff homes, but they went way downhill and a lot of them degenerated into abuse after Lester Roloff died and they started being run more for profit. Happiness Hill is/was run by the Palmers, who used to be on staff at Rebekah, which was a Roloff home with a lot of abuse complaints. I was never there, but my sister was there for a few months and says it was pretty bad (She was pregnant, and got moved to another home when they found out. I think it was run by the same people. She doesn't talk about it much, but they made her give her daughter up for adoption).

As far as Happiness Hill, I was there for about 8 months, after the previous home I was at was shut down under state investigation. I think the Palmers may have had their hearts in the right place, but some of the staff was horrible, and they were who we usually interacted with (not all, a few of them seemed really nice, and that may be why some people there at the same time had good experiences and others had bad ones). There was one woman there who would make her own rules, even what words to say and how to come your hair, and make the rules/punishments harsher than they were. I spent a lot of time on "confinement", which meant talking to nobody and keeping your head down, and Debbie would make us keep our chin touching our chest, which hurt real bad to do all day. We also had to do so while going to church, even on the bus - I'm almost 30 now, and still have trouble keeping my head up or looking people in the eyes, instead of looking at the ground. She was also big on making you kneel with pencils under your knees (they hurt/bruise) and holding Bibles up on your hands for hours, which makes your whole body hurt, and then would end up with licks (spanked with a board, sometimes to the point of bruising, and more than once to where it bled) for disobeying when you couldn't keep it up. We were also cuffed to the beds at night, and if you peed or anything you were stuck there in it, then punished for making the extra dirty laundry (again, not sure if this was a policy or Debbie being too lazy to get up at night for bathroom breaks). The point I'm trying to make is the way things run all it takes is one bad staff member to really mess people up.

If you're thinking about sending your child there, or supporting them, I wouldn't unless things have changed a whole lot. Any of these homes that don't let parents visit whenever they want, that listen in on phone calls, and that censor mail going in and out are just so subject to abuse and so easy for abusers to hide behind. If you're dead set on supporting or sending someone to a place like this, I can say that I had a decent experience at Victory Village in KS, and the Cowells really seemed to care. They did use discipline but not abuse, and not all the psychological games that other places did, and they seemed to care about us and have love, not just think we were horrible like other places said. (eta: This was my experience, it may have been different for others, but it was much better there for me than the other 2 places I'd been, and I don't think I've heard any bad stories from there like I have from some other places). Also, be careful what curriculum they use for school if you plan to have a child graduate there. I was sent home early enough to graduate from a public high school (I think my mom told them I was going to Christian school, but didn't want to pay the money), but one of my friends who graduated from another girl's home that used ACE had to get a GED to qualify for her job because they didn't recognize it as a high school diploma.

I know some people support all these places no matter what, and want to discount anything someone who's been there says, because they paint us as the bad, evil girls, but that's not always the truth. I was there for running away from hope, because my mom let my sister's boyfriend move in and he kept trying to mess with me - then my sister ended up in another home soon after, and apparently he'd gotten her pregnant. One girl I knew at HH was there just because her dad didn't like her dating a black guy so he said she was into all sorts of other things. Some people had really bad problems, but a lot of girls came into the homes loving God and knowing they'd messed up, but the way God was portrayed and the things done in the name of God probably turned more people away from Him than it helped turn back to Him. I ended up with a lot of baggage from my time in some of this places, and it took me years to ever want to read the Bible or set foot in a church after getting back home, because of all the time being forced to and having to fake everything. Many others can't separate God from their abusers, and are living as atheists and hating God because of what men have done to them.



  1. I was in the first class in 1991. Run by the Palmers and Mrs Judy was our dorm mother. The rules were strict and yes girls were placed on restriction no eye contact and the hideous red checkered dress. However there was no chin to chest touching and nothing that EVERY physically hurt us we were issued demerits for rule infractions and the rules were very similar to a very light boot camp up every morning 4:30 AM dress make bed clean up after yourself everything ship shape. Downstairs for morning exercise for 45 min. Breakfast lg healthy balanced home cook meals that you where required to eat due to many of the girls having issues with weight loss because of previous drug isssues or anorexia Back upstairs daily household chores each room of 4 girls assigned a different area of the house on a rotating basis. Shower press uniform downstairs 8 sharp for school. 4 hrs of academic instruction then lunch I want to mention here that a 80% average was required to pass and I was behind 4 grade levels when I entered the program and 1 yr 3 months later I tested the sophomore level when I re entered public school although I was actually just entering my freshman yr. After lunch was bible memorization physical education the bible memory time was spent reciting scripture and singing and was often done outside in the fresh air and sunshine. After that we usually had some sort of out door work detail or free time dinner church prayer meeting and then lights out before bed. We also toured in a girls choir all over the south we were well cared for loved there was much prank pulling and plays skits movie nights love and fun the Palmers were strict but loving and I never saw a girl harmed. Yes there was paddling if you got 5 or more demerits you got 3 quick swats with a wooden paddle that never left bruise or even stung very much 10 or more you got 5 but no matter how many more than 10 you got you never received more than 5 quick swats with two people in the rm to witness and additionally lost movie night and had dish duty on Friday. Restriction was ONLY for severe infractions like trying to run away or in my case the one time I got it was for smuggling in a picture of my boyfriend from before I arrived and that was only three days. We had everything we needed and then some health and hygiene wise and I never needed medical attention while I was there but the Palmers took me faithfully once a month to the orthodontist for my braces. I would not call the intensive religious instruction a cult at all. I no longer hold all of the views taught there in my spiritual life but the foundation of meditation and spiritual awareness and faith in a higher power has served me well. My experienceson there were if love and if not acceptance of behaviors definitely acceptance of humans and love for them. These are some of the best memories of my childhood of work and routine and discipline and fun and popcorn and prank pulling putting on plays Mrs Palmer pulling out her false teeth lip singing all I want for Christmas was my two front teeth all of us conspiring to put baby powder in our pants for swats one night and powder layering brother. Palmer and everything in his office and him laughing so hard with us he couldn't be mad.(if that says anything about how traumatized we were by swats) seeing so much of the beautiful south meeting so many loving beautiful people.. it saddens me that after they left things seem to have changed. The Palmers saved my life and I will always love them.

  2. On another note the ACE program is FULLY accredited and accepted by ALL universities so if some job didn't recognize it that was the jobs ignorance and no fault of the curriculum... The Palmers would NEVER have allowed ANYTHING that caused bruising or bleeding IF they were aware of it. I didn't know this miss Debbie but unless the Palmers were getting to an age that they were just not aware of what she was doing. I highly doubt that ever happened. When I was there they wouldn't have harmed a hair on our heads and they were very involved with their staff at that time only one dorm mother Mrs Judy who was a love and our partner in playful crime 90% of the time. and IF someone would have mistreated us I would not have hesitated to report this to the Palmers who would have rectified it immediately. I remember there was some issue with the pastor at Enon Baptist Church down the road something unsavory with a young girl in his congregation if memory serves... We immediately stopped attending as the Palmers were set that we would not be exposed to risk or an immoral man. After the church fired him we started attending again. No hand cuff ingredients to the beds ever took place and we were free to use the restroom at will at night there was an alarm on the door to the dormitory of course no one ever tried to abuse this and get up and down multiple times using bathroom as an excuse we were so tired from all the fresh air and sunshine and work during the day our eyes slammed shut as soon as they hit the pillow at 9 PM...

  3. I was in the home in 96 & I agree that the Palmers were decent people in it for the right reasons, but Miss Debbie was the dorm Mom when I was there as well. I believe she was a bully & maybe even truely evil. When I have dreams about the place I wake up crying & am filled with anxiety & fear ,& anger all day & usually longer than a day. I live with not only the anxiety & depression, but with neck problems that I have no doubt she caused. The way I was treated there changed me forever. I live in chronic pain, fight with depression & have a really hard time trusting anyone. I'm sure she's probably dead by now & has been awhile & believe she's getting punished in ways she never could. I love God & don't wish hell on anyone but if I did she would've been top of the list. I can only imagine how many girls didn't want anything to do with God because of her & she has to answer for that. The girls that were in there while she was working there, I would believe anything they said she did. I would have rather been in a boot camp. At least it would have been checked & regulated unlike there that had no one to answer to or check in on the girls to see how it really was. People don't seem to want to believe teenagers who they feel did something to be there. My dad was a preacher & didn't want me dating a black guy & much less others knowing. I'm married with 2 kids by that same guy to this day. We've been together since I was 16 except for the year he yanked me out of my life away from anyone & everything I'd ever known.(my dad that is). He wouldn't tell friends where he put me. So regardless of how it may have helped maybe many girls but don't dismiss the damage it did to those of us who suffered under miss Debbie. The things she did were cruel & inhumane. I couldn't treat an animal like she treated so many girls. I've never been able to hardly talk about my year there because it's like reliving it & ive done so much to try to bury those memories, but the damage it has done is there & very real. So my heart goes out to all the girls who spent time when she was there cuz I know what it's done to me. Even pushing the memories down to get thru I still am reminded everyday by the chronic pain from my neck & muscle spasms that I haven't been able or fortunate enough to find a way to fix. I wish I could talk to some others to see if they've had the same neck issues & if they've found any answers on a way to fix or @ least help them. I could go on about the things I went through but I don't like replaying the worst year of my life & the things no one deserves. I believe prisoners are treated better than we were. I believe that the girls who were there when she wasn't probably did have a whole different experience that might have changed their life, but it doesn't mean thats the experience everyone had.

  4. I was there in the most recent time. I wasn't there from 2017 to 2018 right before it got shut down in February. Along with being physically abused, girls here at this time were treated like slaves. Anna Rush was a fat ass lady that was too lazy to wash her own daughters' hair. She would make one girl in particular use her own product and stylers to wash her daughter Abigail's hair. She would yell at another girl named Khris for "flirting" with her husband John Rush. She was jealous of all of the fit girls and would often punish them the most cruelly. She would yell and shout and threaten the girls. When her kids had birthday parties, the girls were forced to use their own allownance money to buy the children giggle that Anna picked out. Often they were expensive. The girls had to be perfectly respectful of Anna's two children Abigail and Samuel. Whatever they wanted, we did for them. Whatever they blamed the girls for, no matter if it didn't happen, we got blamed for and punished harshly. The home was struggling financially. The stress was poured onto the girls. It was inhumane. It was unreal. The abuse was horrific. I know girls that were there that still have nightmares from the horrible crimes done to them at that place. If you are a parent considering sending your child here, please I beg you, DO NOT. No matter how much they tell you they'll help, your child will only walk away with life long scars. Please know about the horrible cruelties your child will be subjected to if they are forced to go. Thank you for loving your child enough to keep them as far away from this place as possible.


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