Sunday, March 29, 2015

Anonymous at Second Nature Wilderness and Chrysalis Boarding School (from

This testimony was given on the webpage Safe Teen School by a student whos name is withheld. All rights goes to the original author.

When I was thirteen, my mom sent me to Second Nature Entrada because I was struggling with the death of my dad and brother. I was grieving obviously and that was the issue but my mom went over the top and after kicking me out of my house, she sent me to wilderness March 11, 2011. I was not court ordered. I was escorted to Utah. I was there for three months until my mom came and took me to Chrysalis Boarding School.

The real story is of the boarding school.

I traveled with my mom to Montana. She got me from wilderness, we went to the base so I could shower, went to airport, flew, had dinner at next airport, flew, then arrived at 2 am and went and spent the next four hours in an inn. We got up at 6 because I had to be there by 7:30. It was the first week of June.

We arrived at Chrysalis and I was so scared. I was myself with everyone but it was awful. I was in Horse House, the house parents were the owners, Mary and Kenny. Kenny despised me. He had his favorite girls and he chooses new victims each year and I was one of those girls. I woke up everyday scared to death of what would happen. They didn't let you get enough sleep so I was always tired. I honestly felt like it was worse than wilderness. I saw my mom twice in the year I was there. When I did, I begged her to take me home. Kenny loved to go off on his victims in front of everyone.

Every Sunday night, we would have jumbo which was the whole campus and we would have a group therapy with everyone. This is when he loved to tell and exaggerate everyone's flaws or mistakes they made that week. It was bad because you could apologize for doing something wrong and he would still punish you. I hated Sundays, I spent everyday of the week dreading them. He would yell at you. Scream at you. Call you names. Bully you. Grab your arm with a lot of force. He made me hate my life and I honestly was trying to figure out how to escape.

While I was there, I saw eight girls who were doing so much better end up becoming so depressed because of him. Four girls had to be transported to higher level care facilities because he drove them insane. Honestly, I didn't like anything because it was hell. I got a contagious std from their facilities. A girl was paralyzed because she broke her leg. There were multiple times I was hurt and they didn't do anything about it. I also got a serious eye infection that they refused to take me to the doctor for until my eye was swollen shut. I was physically bullied by some of Kenny's favorite girls. Also, I had a roommate who was large and was on the top bunk. The bed was broken so when she slept on it, it collapsed on me.

My mom finally couldn't afford it anymore so she told them that she was pulling me. He was livid. When I found out I was so happy. I obviously told some girls and Kenny went off on me in front of everyone saying that I was not ready to go home and was so fucked up and he feels bad for my mom because she has to deal with me and that he wishes I go to hell and he even said that he doesn't feel bad that my dad and brother died. He told me that he would put me on verbal (where I couldn't talk at all) because I was leaving. He was so mean to me and other girls. I got home June 2nd 2012. When I got home, I was so happy. It was fine until a few months later when I had a panic attack because I had a flashback of when Kenny was abusing me. I still have nightmares now and then. I can't be around older men without feeling scared for my life. My mom and I have struggled but we are okay. I can't trust any male and am scarred from the maltreatment I received.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Grintoforever at Turn-about Ranch (and Bromley Brook School)

This testimony was found on a message board belonging to the now inactive human rights movement Fighting Institutional Child Abuse Network. All rights belongs to the original author Grintoforever, who had a blog on Tumblr.

Tonight i watched a documentary that made me realize i have spent far too long being far too quiet about something very serious. something i could be speaking out about and helping other people who are going through it right now. For too long I have been ashamed to admit that when i was 13 years old I was sent, against my will, to a rehabilitation center in Utah. It was mormon-run, called “Turnabout Ranch.” I had no history of drugs, violence, alcohol abuse, sex addiction, shopping addiction, any kind of addiction at all. I was sent to this program because i had a “bad attitude”.

I’ll hit that home: I was sent away to utah and locked up against my will, at the age of 13, because i had “bad attitude” and my parents wanted to “fix me.” I was picked up at the airport and driven to the facility by two people I had never met in my life who tried to calm me down for the 5 hour drive by feeding me cheeseburgers and pretending it would all be okay. When I got there, all of my belongings were taken from me and I was told to go sit in a rock circle in the dirt. I wasn’t allowed to lie down or speak to anyone. no one came to talk to me for 5 hours. when they finally did, I was told i was supposed to be “detoxing” and “thinking about what i’d done.” again, i had never done drugs of any kind. there was nothing to detox from. All i did was cry.

I sat in that circle for 3 days, and then an additional 14 days after that because I wasn’t able to produce 8 fires from the bowdrill technique (I weighed about 87 pounds at the time so this really wasn’t surprising.) I spent 3 months being forced against my will to do hard labor, accept jesus into my heart, repent my sins and be shamed about who I was as a person. I had to fill out a binder of paperwork teaching me how to change and be better. I was cut off from technology and from the outside world. People who ran were chased down on horseback and sent to other programs where they spent 3 months hiking in the wilderness. I didn’t speak to my parents except in letters that the program read ahead of time and threw out if I had revealed too much. When my parents came to get me, the program tried to talk them into keeping me there. During this time I almost died at least 3 times doing things much too dangerous for someone my age. I sat on a cactus and was taken to a vet instead of a doctor. I was kicked by a horse and not taken anywhere. My “schooling” was basically just packing a bunch of us into a room while an older gentlemen slept and the rest of us read books for 4th graders.

When I finally got out of this program, I was sent to a lockdown boarding school in Vermont which was even worse. Here we weren’t allowed to leave the facility, numerous girls tried to commit suicide, there were at least 2 sexual harassment cases between teachers and students and I had to be kidnapped by my mom and taken to Florida because the program didn’t allow you to leave until you were 18.

Both of these programs were run by Aspen Education Group.

This is a mormon-run group that has hundreds of facilities across the country where youths are sent against their will and locked up, cut off from their families. Many families have lost contact with their children once this happens because the programs continue to send the children to other facilities without instructing the family first. At this very moment, kids are locked in these facilities with no way out, because their parents couldn’t think of a better alternative to behavioral issues than locking up their child. As far as I know, not many people know about these places. A short-lived reality show “Brat Camp” highlighted them for a while but didn’t gather much attention. Please, if you can, spread this around. This rigorous Mormon company is along the same vein as “straight camps” in terms of their approach. If my mom hadn’t kidnapped me I would’ve been in them until I was 18. I have no other way of getting attention on these programs except this blog, but attention MUST be put on them. They have already had numerous of their facilities shut down due to unethical treatment and sexual harassment cases. You could be helping so many kids who are locked away while the world is completely unaware of this epidemic in this country.

PLEASE PLEASE spread this around. I can no longer stand the thought of someone else having to go through what I went through.

The boarding school, which is referred to in the text above must most likely be Bromley Brook School. It was shut down in 2011 after a scandal involving a male teacher and two girls being involved in a too close relationship made it to court.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sarah at Midwest Academy (from

This testimony was given on the webpage Safe Teen School by the student Sarah. All rights goes to the original author.

I am a former student of Midwest Academy in Keokuk, Iowa. My stay there was from February 28th, 2012 to May 5th, 2013--a little over 14 months. This stay was not at all pleasant. I was living with a male friend at my time right before attending MWA. My mother was aware of this and then lied to me about her acceptance and support of it. At 8 a.m., February 25th, 2 county police officers came and took me from my friend’s house. I was then put into a short term mental evaluation center and, after three days of observation, the doctor called me “precious,” declared me mentally stable and in no need of medication or in-patient treatment. I went into the transition room and, instead of my mother waiting to pick me up, a tall man, Ben Trane, and his wife stood waiting for me. My mother was outside the door. I was informed by Ben that he was there to take me to Midwest Academy boarding school. Although I was being compliant, he still insisted on holding my arm as we walked out of the ward. After a sharp jab in his ribcage from my elbow, he settled for taking my shoes. I was then put into the backseat of a small car, with Ben sitting in the back with me. His wife was in the front passenger seat and a man whom I did not know from Las Vegas was driving. A five hour car ride to Midwest ensued. We made a stop at a gas station for food. Ben came back to the car with burgers, meat lovers pizza, and chicken strips. I was vegetarian. No one bothered to ask me of my food preferences. Throughout my entire stay at the program, I was forced to eat meat. Otherwise, I would be stuck with smaller food portions, usually consisting of just rice and veggies.

Upon arrival at MWA, I was escorted out of the car and through hallways into the O.S.S. (Out of School Suspension)/intake office. Waiting inside there were two upper level students, admin Kathy Rose, Shasta Hiedbreder, James Paulus, and a shift leader. I was told to sit down, before I was given many papers to fill out and sign, including papers that asked me to sign away my rights to legal assistance and freedom of expression. When I calmly stated I would not be signing those, Kathy Rose shrugged and smiled while saying, “It really doesn’t matter. Your parents have already signed all these papers for you.” They then forced me to remove all of my jewelry and locked me in O.S.S., which is a little white box with a metal door and wooden walls. I was actually picked up by 4 male staff, had my arm twisted behind my back, and thrown into the room. I was forced to stay there overnight. I was released into the “family” (the group of all girls in the program) the morning after. While in O.S.S., however, all I received only a PBJ sandwich, pickles, raisins, and a cup of milk for each meal. Food outside O.S.S. wasn’t that premium either. A normal breakfast consisted of one scoop of stale cereal, one cup of milk, and an apple or orange. On good mornings we were given tasteless eggs and one greasy sausage link, sometimes three mini pancakes. A normal lunch/dinner consisted of the main dish of unidentifiable foods mixed together in a casserole, a side dish of cooked canned veggies, and a canned fruit. Dessert, condiments, and day old leftovers were a “privilege” for level 2 through 6.

My first impression of the MWA facility was melancholy. I could just feel the negative and depressive vibes coming off all of the girls. It was quiet, but in an unsettling way. I later learned the rules: head down, mouth shut. Otherwise you’ll never go anywhere.

Submission was the main goal of the “structure” of this program. Everything is taken from you, including your right to free speech, your possessions, and your self-worth. You are taught that you were the problem. Anything you did against the rules made you a bad person, who pulled everyone else down. Yet, with all these people
around you saying such things, convincing you that you were the scum of the earth for merely talking without permission, you were expected to be a leader. You were expected to keep a positive attitude, maintain maturity, and stay clam even when being treated unfairly. If you did not, you received “consequences”--little pieces of paper that made you lose anywhere from 5 to 50 points, or drop levels.

I went 6 months before reaching level 3, thus earning the privilege to call my parents. Before that, those in levels 1 and 2 were only given 2 hours to write a letter every Sunday. Your parents could write you twice a week, you could only reply once a week. This caused a lot of problems in communication for me and my parents. Being unable to hear the inflections in each other’s voices or read body language led to a lot of misinterpretations and a lot of jumping to conclusions.

I went 8 months before reaching level 4 status, a few weeks before my 17th birthday. I was able to go off-grounds with my parents for 2 days. However, as a level 4, you have to return to the facility to sleep. You are also unable to earn points on the days you are off grounds. My parents were not informed that they could see me for two days. They didn’t even know they were allowed to see me at all. No one gave them any information as I moved up in my program. The only reason I got 2 days was because my parents’ car broke down, so they stayed an extra day. On my off grounds, I was not able to go farther than a 60 mile radius of the school. I was not able to use any electronics, except for television. They even restricted what stations I was allowed to watch. When I arrived back at the facility, I had to do a “shake down” where I un-tucked everything, removed off my shoes and snap my bra to prove I wasn’t hiding anything. The shift leader went through my bags. This did not bother me. The shift leader that day was Ms. Angie, who I enjoyed. She took the time to talk to the kids, get to know them and why they acted the way they did. She let me do a half-assed shake down and, instead of searching my bags, jokingly asked, “No cigarettes? No drugs? Okay.” Because she knew me well enough to know I wouldn’t do that and took the time to learn my character.

I dropped levels twice in the program. Once for artwork in my private journal, which was supposed to be off limits for all staff and students, and once for going below points. However, around the same time I dropped for going under points, I was interrogated about things they found in my journals. I had written down incidents and odd things I had seen go on and mistreatment in my journals for when I went home, so that I would never forget, and so if an opportunity to get my story out came, I would have this information on hand. Sadly, I did not receive those journals back. I never reached a level higher than four.

I was blessed enough to have a wonderful family rep, Tonya Mayberry. Tonya was one of the younger staff, about twenty years of age or so. She understood my situation at home of control and emotional abuse, etc., because her mother was much the same to her. Tonya was also in the program, so she understood what it was like to be a student as well. I had and still do have a great deal of respect for this woman. She continues to support me even to this day. Tonya bent over backwards for me. She got me “special cased” (when admin or family reps do something out of the ordinary to help a kid. I received visits with my parents on doctor runs, free points, and extensions on deadlines.) Tonya was demoted from family rep to shift leader because of me and my father though. My father would scream and threaten her when I was not doing well, even though it wasn’t her fault. My father would complain to admin, who would then also blame Tonya. Tonya left Midwest Academy the same day I did. She truly stuck by my side the entire time. Even after I was switched to Devon, who was an admin, for a family rep, she still pulled me out to talk to her at least once a week, and made sure I was okay.

My experience with Devon as a family representative was short but terrible. It was the last month or so of my program, and he was trying to say my old problems were still problems, which they were not. He cared more about his own opinion than his kids’ on his caseload. When first switched to him, I told him “I am not one of your problem kids. I’ve gotten what I need out of this program. It’s simply mechanics now. I’ve worked out emotional and family problems. I am more than willing to help counsel your other caseload kids. But I don’t need to be talked to more than once a week for an update.” He still tried to take me out for talks during school hours, prep time, and other times that I really needed to focus on what I was doing, not spend time running in circles with him.

As an upper level, you have a lot more privileges, such as wearing your hair down, being able to look outside and into mirrors, talk without permission, wear makeup and jewelry, and draw, listen to music, sing, and dance. However, the responsibilities overwhelmed you. You must clean the facility every day, watch the lower levels all day, be last for food, watch O.S.S. if it was open, and calm down lower levels that were crying or angry. These responsibilities took away from school time, personal time, sometimes even sleep if you were working the intake of a new student. You also were more prone to being blamed for things going wrong because staff expected you to do everything, even things you didn’t have the authority to do. I preferred to be a lower level because I could write songs in my journal, even if I couldn’t sing or play guitar, and I could read, and have more time to think. There was so much less drama and pettiness because lower levels have to be silent most of the time. They were only allowed 15 minutes of talk time a day. Otherwise any talking resulted in losing 25-50 points.

Equality was not supported there. Level ones were always looked down on as a nuisance and a burden. In order to talk to someone at talk time, you had to add up to at least four. So a level one could not talk to another level one or a level two. The only way to move up in the program and to gain the support needed from the staff to vote up, you had to be a dictator, nitpicker, spiteful, and a bully. You had to lose the respect of your peers and of yourself to please the ones in charge. As an upper level, watching rooms, I would often times get “off-task” and have group conversations with the room I was watching. I did my best to treat everyone as an equal. I got in a lot of trouble for that. I also was chastised for being a “hippie” and a free-thinker. It was considered “rebellious” and “defiant” to state an opinion, even if it was done in a respectful manner.

I grew very bitter in my time at MWA. I am a huge believer that everyone’s aura feeds off each other, and being in such a gloomy, tense environment, brought me down eventually. I had become a shell. Living on auto pilot. I knew all the right things to say, and all the ways to work the program. The loopholes. I did that for a few months, but something inside me would not let me feel at peace about that. So when I got level four, I stopped being a robot. I started living again, and I became my bubbly, happy self again, but that caused more consequences, which caused me to go on probation (where you act like a level two for a week. You lose all privileges too.) and to drop. In about march of 2013, right after my year date, I decided that I would rather be myself, live by my own standards, morals, and beliefs, and take my exit plan when I turned eighteen in December, than be someone I’m not, lie to myself and others, and graduate something I could never support. This place is openly called a “program”. You do not “program” human beings. You program machines. Robots. You do not strip a person’s identity, give them a level, and tell them to grow. There were girls as young as twelve there. We are TEENAGERS. We make mistakes. So, your kid has a drug addiction. Send them to rehab. So, your kid cuts or is defiant. Get them counseling. Your kid is skipping school. Send them to an actual boarding school. Help them get their GED. Have them talk to a truancy officer. Let them learn slowly, in an environment where they do not feel attacked and vulnerable. These programs are very cookie-cutter. No one is viewed as an individual. They use the same things on every student- force, conformity, emotional abuse, scare tactics… their goal is to tear these girls and boys down to the point where they need people to tell them how to
rebuild themselves. This is where the “programming” starts. Estimated 98% of students, both graduated and pulled, relapse to their drugs, behavior, self-harm, or negative ways. If your child is in need of help, how can you expect them to be “helped” when everything they know, need, and love is torn away from them and they are told they are unworthy? After the program, I was diagnosed with anxiety, and experienced panic attacks, night terrors, and flashbacks about MWA.

No, I was never physically abused, but the emotional abuse is now evident. I say “now” because when you are there, you grow so used to the way it is that you don’t realize how wrong it is, and how much it hurts your being. I had a very good level of self-esteem before the program. I left, and now, I see myself as ugly on most days, find myself seeking the assurance of others, and days where I hide myself in my apartment, in my bed, unable to face the world because I can’t face myself. MWA did make me a more mature, stronger person. But not because of its teachings. Simply because I made it through. That’s one thing I can always tell myself. I made it through. I’m still me.

I was pulled May fifth of 2013 by my parents. I was at level three. Midwest Academy has caused an emotional, physical, financial, and mental strain on me and my family, causing my father to not be able to retire for another ten years. He is nearing 60. The program almost caused a divorce with my parents while I was away, and has caused my mum to be on multiple blood pressure and stress medications. I came out of MWA a bigger mess than when I went it. I relapsed back into drugs, running away, (I moved out about two months after returning home at age seventeen.) an abusive ex-boyfriend, drinking, smoking, and self-harm and anorexia. I have an even worse relationship with my father, but my mother and I are very close now. Over my stay at MWA, things were getting progressively worse. Information I have received from those who got out after me confirms that they are continuing downward.


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