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 “turn about 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. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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 garner 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.
editing for more resources/reading material:
new edit: romney’s company, bain, helped fund this program in 2006. please spread that if you spread nothing else. i want this on his record. he deserves to have this on his record.