Surviving Straight Inc, a Controlling Approach To Addiction Treatment Brings Disastrous Consequences

One false dichotomy is consistently hurled around in the substance use debate: Should we send ‘addicts’ to jail, or should we recognize that they have a disease and do the compassionate thing – send them to treatment?  This is a load of nonsense for many reasons, but perhaps most poignantly for the fact that many rehabs are worse than prison.  Our example: a popular chain of adolescent rehabs called Straight Inc, which treated over 50,000 adolescents between 1976 and 1993.  They’re the subject of what promises to be an enthralling new documentary.   Straight Inc’s abusive methods were closely tied to those of Synanon, The Seed, and general practices of so-called Therapeutic Communities.  Although Straight is no longer in operation, their methods are alive and well in the treatment industry, so it pays to be informed about what went on there, and where it all comes from.

In this piece, we’ll take a look at Straight Inc itself; the philosophy that drives both general ineffectiveness and abuse in the addiction treatment system; one family’s story of 2 different paths to change (one ends with death, the other leads to successful change and growth); and a look at the new documentary Surviving Straight Inc, along with some gripping video clips.

The Straight Inc Basics

The horrors of Straight Inc were brilliantly documented in the 2006 expose of the troubled teen industry “Help At Any Cost” by addiction journalist Maia Szalavitz.  In the book, she lays out many scary practices.  The admissions process to straight came right out of the recovery industry’s playbook – in the section titled “denial.”  Essentially any child who arrived at Straight would be considered an addict in need of their services.  They’d go through a catch 22 interview run by Junior Staff Members, themselves children who were graduates of the program.  If they admitted to any substance use, they’d be considered addicted, or at risk of addiction, or assumed to be minimizing their drug use and in denial of the full scope of it – thus addicted.  If they denied that they were using any drugs at all, they’d be considered to be lying or “in denial” which of course is also a sign of the disease of addiction.  So either way, if you showed up in Straight’s offices, chances are that you’d end up in the program, whether you “needed it” or not.

They’d sweep you off to be admitted into the program, and then pressure your parents into going along with it.  You’d spend all day long at big group meetings in their facilities where a failure to sit up straight at full attention would quickly result in having other members of the program drag you to the ground and physically restrain you by sitting on your chest.  Then you’d spend your nights living in the homes of more accomplished members, locked in their bedroom with the bed pushed up against the wall.  Any time you moved anywhere, including going to the bathroom, another member would hold you by the belt-loop on your pants.  If you escaped, you’d be physically hunted down and brought back to straight, essentially kidnapped and imprisoned.

Psychological abuse was also rampant, with enrollees taught that they’re worthless, sinners, that they’ll never change.  Homophobia was rampant and an accepted part of practice.  And sexual abuse/rape within the program was practiced enough that it caused one graduate/staff member who was a true believer in the program to dedicate his life to protesting Straight for several years.  His quest is covered extensively in Help At Any Cost – he took up the cause after he was punished and demoted by Straight for bringing his concerns of sexual abuse to his superiors. There are many complaints of sleep, food, and water deprivation by survivors. And finally, they actually practiced something called spit therapy. There is seemingly no end to the tales of horror that went on at Straight Inc.  The aftermath has resulted in a high rate of suicides and survivors experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.  Scandals erupted, and most of the Straight Inc locations were eventually shut down, but a trail of victims lies in their wake – and new victims are sure to emerge as former Straight Inc associates have opened copycat programs under different names – and many therapeutic communities which come from the same Synanon roots as Straight Inc are still operating today.

Control

“If she were my daughter, I would pack her car full with illegal substances, send her on her way, call the police, and make sure she was arrested. I would make sure she was not allowed to get out of jail. I would then go to the judge  and make sure she was ordered to a minimum of a three year sobriety program.”

It’s easy for us to laugh at or dismiss the above quote, because it comes from a man who’s a total joke – Dr Drew.  But he wasn’t joking when he said it, and after some people were outraged by the comment, he doubled down on it while seeking to clarify his position in a piece he wrote for Huffpo (note that he said this in a form of : I wasn’t saying, as an expert on addiction who authoritatively tells people how to help addicts, that people should frame their children, I was just saying that I personally, the guy who presents himself as an authority on addiction and makes a living telling people how to help addicts, that I would frame my own children if I were in this situation. –  Such doubletalk is a nasty habit picked up in 12 step circles):

“Family members have to be willing to go to any lengths and unfortunately this often means bringing about circumstances that restrict that individual’s freedom……  I am talking about painful interventions that save lives.”

Here, Drew is exposing the ugly heart of the treatment industry: all of their methods are based on the idea that confrontation, command, and control are the proper way to help someone with addiction.  Some call it tough love, Mr. Mark Scheeren, Chairman and co-founder of the St. Jude Retreats calls it The Control Model. “It is commonplace for an industry to find ways to make the processes in their respective models more efficient, not for the benefit of the client, in this case those with substance use issues, but rather for the staff. When this shift away from compassion occurs, it can be downright astounding how much mistreatment can occur to make someone’s job easier. I have seen people in positions of authority throughout the drug and alcohol treatment community create policies of control that literally destroy people’s chances at sobriety, and also create inaccurate and sometimes false diagnosis so that greater control can be wielded over the vulnerable patron.  This control model approach is the treatment model in America today. Thankfully we now have an alternative that is not based on this damaging control based approach that allows people the freedom to think for themselves and naturally grow past their counterproductive habits.” Whatever you call it, the message in the Control Model philosophy is clear: we know what’s right for addicts, and they must submit to our control or face the consequences we’ll impose.

There isn’t much different in principle between framing your child and having them arrested as a way to get them into rehab – and physically restraining and beating children (many at straight ended up with all sorts of injuries; broken bones weren’t unusual) to scare them into staying sober and following your commands.  Nor is applying social pressure very different in kind.  And convincing someone that their behavior is a sin against god for which they’ll pay in the afterlife certainly fits with this spirit as well.  While the following are less serious examples, you’ll see shades of the controlling mindset when you find that most rehabs arbitrarily limit communication with the outside world, dictate what their clients can and cannot eat, mandate “volunteer work” or chores, control what television shows may be watched or books may be read in off-hours, and impose all other sorts of strange rules.  All of these tactics, and more, are an attempt on the part of addiction treatment staff to substitute their own judgments, desires, and choices, for the troubled person’s own potential thoughts and choices about how to live.  As Scheeren says, it’s also an attempt to make the job of treatment centers easier.  This is what the recovery industry does at all levels, they try to cure addiction by imposing any number of controlling measures upon the troubled individual.  In the process, they avoid free and productive interaction between staff and clients, leaving the clients utterly unprepared to leave the treatment system successfully – they’re used to being controlled, and they haven’t gotten the chance to direct their own behavior more successfully, which is why they’re their in the first place.  Such a mode of operation is responsible for the revolving door nature of rehabs.  This is the control model approach to addiction, and if you believe in it, then you will ultimately progress from first imposing your views about drug use and badgering a troubled person to accept them – all the way up to physically forcing that person to stay sober.  If the psychological control doesn’t work, you’ll eventually get to physical force as a means of control.  That is, extreme programs like Straight Inc are only carrying out methods that are logically implied by the rehab industry’s fundamental philosophy of treating by controlling.

Make no mistake, all rehabs would engage in physical methods of control, if they could get away with it.  Straight Inc, and other adolescent rehabs utilize physical methods of control and abuse because, in short, they can get away with it, and it brings temporary results.  Children who are sent to such facilities usually have reached a degree of estrangement with their families in which trust is non-existent, and if they are able to communicate with their parents, any reports of abuse or mistreatment are dismissed as lies and manipulation designed for the child to get out and continue to use/abuse substances.  Adolescents then, are easily pushed around and have little immediate recourse.  Eventually, they get the picture that they’re going to have to tolerate the abuse, and do all they can to minimize it, so they fall in line, and some behavioral change is temporarily achieved.  Whether the change is long lasting or not, is another story.  Perhaps they do permanently stop abusing substances, but then they’re saddled with a whole other set of psychological issues which can result in dire consequences.  Or in many cases, they simply comply until they get out and reach the legal age where they can no longer be forced to endure such abuse, whereupon they return to rampant substance use.  And still, in other cases, there never was any real substance use problem, and there isn’t one when they get out of the program – so it looks as if the abusive methods of control were a success when they really weren’t.  Adolescent rehabs utilize both psychological and physical control and abuse.

What’s more, the participants of such programs are controlling each other.  When one is out of line, an advanced participant is supposed to restrain them, or otherwise cause them to behave differently with social pressure or verbal abuse (the spit therapy previously mentioned).  The genius of these peer based methods of control utilized in Straight and other TC’s is that when bones are broken, or hurt feelings lead to a suicide attempt, it didn’t happen by the hand of an employee.  Thus their model of “treatment” takes most responsibility for wrongdoing off of the actual treatment center.

The following clip of an interview from Surviving Straight Inc should give you ample insight into the psychological damage caused by peer based methods of control. As survivor Marcus Chatfield eloquently puts it “Once you realize you were abused, you also realize you were an abuser…”

Most adults, legally able to refuse such physical control and abuse would not tolerate it for long, and quickly check out of any program which employed it.  So the rehabs which treat them mainly use psychological control and abuse – and often refer to it as “humbling” them.  In short, the application of ego deflation and guilt which is also used in adolescent rehabs, is the main form of control used on adults in rehab. This may change, and I suspect we’ll hear tales of more physical control and abuse in adult rehabs as the Marchman Act gains popularity, a law which makes coerced treatment an equal opportunity for all ages in some states.

When such an approach doesn’t work, the victim is commonly blamed. Their crime?  They failed to fully submit or surrender to some sort of outside controlling force (to either their counselors or a “higher power”).  Volumes could be written about why this doesn’t work, and what the alternative is, but I’ll try to sum it up quickly here.  The control approach doesn’t work because the troubled individual never has the chance to practice making choices that are based on their own internal motivations to have a good life and do things that bring such a life about – instead, they practice making decisions as a means to avoid punishment and abuse.  Gone are any personal considerations about whether the behavior in question brings you good results in your life, instead, you’re in a battle for control over your own decisions.  The real solution is the opposite approach – engaging the troubled individual to use their mind, tap into their own values and goals, to consider their options, and to experiment with self-motivated alternatives to the troubling behavior.  The methods for doing this  are empowering rather than controlling, straightforward, involve rational respectful discussions, cognitive exercises, and education in goal setting techniques among other things. Some solutions for drug problems are on the right track with this: Smart Recovery, methods based on Motivational Interviewing, and The St Jude Program come to mind for me.

“The control approach doesn’t work because the troubled individual never has the chance to practice making choices that are based on their own internal motivations to have a good life and do the things that bring such a life about – instead, they practice making decisions as a means to avoid punishment.”

Don’t just take my word for it, check this interview with Straight Inc survivor Samantha Monroe for clues to this reality. As Monroe says: “I had no time to dream, to realize anything for myself.”

Somehow, the tough love and the control model philosophy is attractive because it attaches itself to a few reasonable measures.  Some parents find themselves saying to their children (adult or adolescent) “I think you’re behaving dangerously, and I can’t be a part of it by making it easier for you to do so by providing food and shelter.”  There may be times where that decision to kick someone out on the street is a rational one, but withdrawing support is different from imposing control though, and should never be lumped in with the kind of “lengths” that tough love advocates like Dr Drew engage in and expect other people to go to.  The tough love movement steals credibility from some rational measures parents have taken to stop funding drug use or expose their children to the reality of life – and attaches that credibility to a pattern of destructive confrontation and control.

One Family’s Story

Indeed, most parents are willing to go to any length to help their children, and many will even engage in “painful interventions” when supposed experts advise them to do so – which brings me to the impetus for this article.  The Matthews were the kind of family who was willing to go to any length to help their son Steven.  When he got involved in drugs and alcohol at an early age they sent him to Straight Inc.  This wasn’t a lock him up and throw away the key situation, Straight Inc demanded a high level of involvement from the family.  The parents had to get involved with other parents, attend several meetings a week at Straight, be willing to eventually host other troubled children from Straight in their own home, and any other siblings had to attend special meetings too.  They truly were willing to go to any lengths to help their child.

Steve was involved with Straight Inc from 15-18 years old – during which he had little contact with his family, and escaped the program 7 times only to be forcefully dragged back in, one of these times he even jumped from a moving vehicle to escape.  He finally escaped Straight’s clutches for good the eighth time when he turned 18 and was able to legally remove himself from the program.  What’s more, his family was no longer intact – Straight had pressured his father to quit drinking altogether, or move out, and eventually he chose to move out. They had broken up his family. At the point when Steve left Straight, his distressed mother did the only thing she thought she could do – refused to allow him back home unless he would attend AA meetings. Sick of being controlled and subjected to cults, he refused this condition. He ended up living for some time with old friends, and shortly thereafter checked himself into a motel room where he jumped to his death from a fourth story balcony.

Confrontation and control did not help Steve Matthews, it destroyed him.  Such abuse helps no one – but when you feel that troubled substance users are incapable of self-control, and that the only way to help is to attempt to control them, then abuse is the logical consequence.  Such an approach often leads to failure at changing the problematic behavior, at best, and devastating suicides, deaths, or newly acquired psychological problems, at worst.

A Different Path To Resolving A Substance Use Problem

I know of Steve’s story from his younger sister Kelly.  She has made it her mission to spread awareness about the horrors of programs like Straight.  She’s got a website where she tells her brother’s story, and an upcoming feature length documentary about Straight Inc.  Perhaps most importantly though, her own life serves as an example of the alternative to the control model.  She’s set a powerful example of self-change without even realizing it.

I spoke to Kelly last week, and she told me about her own problems with substances.  She was just 13 years old when her brother was first shipped off to Straight.  While she luckily never ended up in the full Straight program, she was nonetheless required to attend special meetings for the siblings of ‘straightlings.’  At 18, like many other college students, she began to smoke pot.  She carried on this activity for 10 years, and it caused few if any problems in her life.  Certainly, it caused less turmoil than the devastation of how and why she lost her brother.  She stopped smoking pot (on her own), moved out west, but continued to toy with drugs and alcohol occasionally.  Eventually, she did get into a pattern of use that was troublesome.  She used quite a bit of cocaine, and a prescription drug, Xanax.  After 6 months to a year of this, she realized that she was experiencing withdrawal symptoms from the Xanax, so she asked her doctor for some help, and he helped her to detox by prescribing a milder form of Xanax which she was able to use to taper off of the drug without dangerous complications.   There was no inpatient help, no traditional addiction treatment, no counseling, and no meetings involved.  The doctor only helped her with avoiding medical complications, he did nothing to control her choices.  However, she continued to do cocaine and powerful methamphetamines, and accelerated into a more extreme pattern of use with those drugs.

Interestingly, Kelly’s period of problematic use coincided with learning more about her brother’s experiences in Straight, and the discovery of his suicide note all these years later.  While she doesn’t blame her use on this, it was some added stress which was weighing on her at the time.  In addition to this, she changed from an office job to working from home.  These factors, while not determinants of an addiction, helped to set the stage for more problematic choices.  Kelly’s cocaine use accelerated to freebasing, and she was also using what she personally considered a much more serious drug, methamphetamine. Eventually, she had a physical injury which sparked some consideration about whether she should make some changes. Kelly reached out to her mother for help, who responded by flying out to see her, helping her with the injury, as well as providing love and moral support.  She never asked Kelly to go to meetings or treatment – both of which she probably wouldn’t have attended or benefitted from anyways, since she did not believe that addiction was a disease.

The entire period of problematic substance use lasted 2-3 years for Kelly, and she simply decided to end it.  She went back and forth a bit as she first stopped using cocaine and meth, but her resolve remained strong.  It didn’t sound like this was a planned part of quitting, but at the same time as she ceased use, she moved back East to her hometown, started up a new romantic relationship (more serious than any other she’d ever been in) with a Straight Inc survivor who she’d been involved with through her activist efforts, and started work on a documentary film with others who’d been involved with Straight.

That was four years ago.  Kelly hasn’t had a problem with drugs since.  She may drink or smoke occasionally, but it’s at such low levels that it causes her no problems.  What Kelly probably didn’t know, was that she was doing much more to address her addiction than she even realized – she was making big changes to improve all aspects of her life, she embarked on a personally meaningful undertaking (the film), she was developing new habits by investing in more fulfilling rewards than the cheap thrills of substance use.

Kelly engaged in what is known in addiction research circles as “self-change.”  She changed her substance use habits without the help of the conventional recovery models or rehab systems.  She did what the majority of people who permanently end their addictions do – she simply moved on with life instead of becoming obsessed with her past mistakes and struggling to recover from an imaginary disease.  She did all of this without anyone forcing or guilting her into it, without treatment programs, and without 12-step meetings.

The key point to remember about Kelly’s story is that she was free to make her own decisions, to think for herself, and to pursue a life and goals that were internally motivated and personally rewarding.  Programs like Straight don’t allow for any such thing – nor do most 12-step based programs.  They arbitrarily assign behaviors and goals which have nothing to do with the suffering person’s personal goals.  In the case of Straight, it seems like the only activity one is allowed to engage in is being lectured, expressing their devotion to the program, and psychologically abusing each other.  At the end of the day, they had to do “moral inventories”, but morality revolves around personal behavior and whether one’s choices, thoughts, and behavior are of the nature that lead to personally judged integrity, success, and fulfillment – yet how can someone who has no freedom to make their own choices, express their own thoughts, and follow their own goals ever be in a position to assess themselves morally?  They can’t.  They can only reflect on whether or not they’ve complied with an imposed course of behavior and set of moral views.  Likewise, in 12-step programs, people are taught to deny their own self-interest, and take on as their primary goal the act of spreading the 12-step program, winning new converts, and abiding by the dogma of AA.  Again, this is yet another controlling approach which allows for no personally motivated behavior, and thus allows for no personal growth.  It’s no accident that 12-step programs also include a nightly moral inventory of sorts – reviewing one’s “character defects.”  When does someone get to review their day and ask themselves “did I do things today that bring me closer to my own personal vision of a happier more fulfilling life?  Did I move closer to my own goals today?  Did I live up to what I think is important, right, and good”  There certainly isn’t much room for this in today’s addiction treatment system.

Doing Nothing Or Doing Something

So here we have two distinct paths for people with substance use problems.  The first is to go to a controlling domineering program billed as compassionate medical care, Steve’s path – the second is to focus on personally improving your life, Kelly’s path.  In this case (and I would suggest always), the second path obviously worked much better.  But the second path might simultaneously be seen as “doing nothing” – that is, no outside help is involved, it’s entirely self-directed.  Unfortunately many people feel the need to “do something” about the problem, and don’t know where to start – and parents certainly don’t feel right sitting back watching their loved ones kill themselves with self-destructive behavior.  At this point, the controlling policies and practices of the treatment system have shown through mountains of evidence to be ineffective at increasing success.  What’s more, the evidence of harm caused by this model is beginning to pile up as well – the suicides of Straight Inc alumni is but one extremely chilling and extreme example of the damage done.  We should be abandoning the control model, and embracing something which harnesses the factors of self-change.  There are ways to “do something” about addiction without being controlling, manipulative, and confrontational.  Hopefully if you look through this blog, you’ll find examples of how to put these principles into action – again, there are some alternative approaches who are on the right track with this.

Surviving Straight Inc – The Documentary

Here’s the trailer:

The film, which is yet to be released (stay tuned to http://www.survivingstraightincthemovie.com/ for updates), was the brainchild of not only Kelly Matthews, but 3 other Straight Inc survivors who had connected on the web: Marcus Chatfield, Todd Eckelberger, and Alex Layne.  Kelly originally connected with filmmaker Christopher Oroza who had read her website with stories about Straight, and contacted her about helping him to make a short documentary about it for his class at Florida State University.  Florida is ground zero for Straight Inc though, where the organization still exists under the name of The Drug Free America Foundation.  Shortly after Oroza showed the short, he got a chilling personal taste of Straight’s intimidation when he found an ominous note taped to the front door of his home which read “You won’t Survive Straight Inc.”

The incident (reminiscent in spirit of an attempt by Synanon to take down a detractor by placing a live de-rattled snake in their mailbox) was so creepy that Oroza severed all contact with the Straight survivors.  However, despite any potential personal consequences, he hooked back up with the survivors 2 years later to help them tell their story of Surviving Straight Inc in the form of a full feature length documentary, and enlisted the talents of fellow filmmakers Katie Scoones, Andrew Penczner and Patrick Nissim.

From the trailer, the filmmaking looks to be high quality, crisp and clean, the clips of interviews available on the film’s site are compelling, and vivid re-enactments are used to bring the viewer into the terrifying reality described by the interviewees. I think it will be an important work to open people’s eyes to the darker side of the treatment industry and hopefully spark some debate about the fundamental approach used with troubled substance users of all ages – from teens to disenfranchised adults. I hope to see it soon and give it a full review, and I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

There’s a real movement going on here, and the film will hopefully lead the way, but that’s not all that these survivors have in their bag of tricks: Kelly just launched a new site this month called TroubledTeenIndustry.com.  The site is partnered with Reddit Troubled Teens to provide an active hub for information about the troubled teen industry.  In my opinion, this really is a much needed public service.  Working with troubled substance users I’ve heard plenty of horror stories first hand – recently.  The stuff that went on at Straight isn’t dead and gone, it’s alive and well.  Anyone with a troubled child should beware, and do their homework before putting them in someone else’s care.  TroubledTeenIndustry.com promises to be a good resource for checking things out, and Kelly hopes it will also be a central place to organize reform.  The site is already providing support for those who have previously been abused by the system.

I think that the story of Straight Inc is so important that I’m going to ask you, my readers to do something I haven’t asked of you before: please spread this around, by any means.  If you care about this, then please Diggit it, reddit it, post it on facebook, or link to it in any way possible all over the web.  Attention must be brought to these issues for any change to occur, people need to be aware of a problem before any action in fixing it can occur.

 

Comments

  1. Leslie Weiss Flora says

    Thank you for being a voice for so many that no longer have a voice…including my brother, Chris.

  2. Clay L. says

    After having experienced Straight, Inc. at its heyday and most abusive period, I can say it is all true. I was so damaged that I really couldn’t function in society for several years after getting out. I had nightmare into my late 30’s and to this day cannot sleep in a dark room. It wasn’t until, like you said, I stopped relying on the control models and made decisions for myself that life came together and I became what I believe is successful.

    • Clay L. says

      He has then phases wrong. On first phase you could ask for certain things on Open Meeting days. You had four choices: Nothing, Talk, Talk & Responsibilities (T&R) and Home (Second Phase). You didn’t really have to ask for everything on first phase, it just depended on whether you “oldcomer” (Second Phase or higher) was an asshole or not. The really bungholes would make you ask for everything, mess with you about whether you asked or not and the try to make you feel guilty for imposing on their family, eating their food and what an ungrateful little bastard you were for begin there. I spent a while on first and had both kinds.

      He’s also off on the higher phases, but I just don’t want to write about the whole thing right now.

      • melissa says

        first phase in my world was u can do nothing ever. Ask to pick up. It was the most horrific experience of my life. Three long years.

    • Clay L. says

      He has the phases wrong. On first phase you could ask for certain things on Open Meeting days. You had four choices: Nothing, Talk, Talk & Responsibilities (T&R) and Home (Second Phase). On T&R you could guard the doors, take others to the bathroom while in The Building, but that was about it for extra privileges. You didn’t really have to ask for everything on first phase, it just depended on whether you “oldcomer” (Second Phase or higher) was an asshole or not. The really bungholes would make you ask for everything, mess with you about whether you asked or not and the try to make you feel guilty for imposing on their family, eating their food and what an ungrateful little bastard you were for begin there. I spent a while on first and had both kinds.

      He’s also off on the higher phases, but I just don’t want to write about the whole thing right now.

  3. Susan T says

    All that is being said in this documentary is true. For the longest time, I thought I was the only one who had not been on drugs and put into that place. Later, I found out this was not true. However, there were people in their who had done drugs; even so, this place of abuse (kids on kids, physically, verbally, mentally, and emotionally abusing each other) was not the proper place for those who needed treatment. I watched one girl, who is now dead because of Straight, go through severe withdrawals while no one provided medical assistance. In addition, like the video testimony of a gentleman I do not even know (above), I heard others (people in addition to myself who was also abused) being slammed up against intake walls and being screamed at; also, I visually saw it for myself. Never think that people cannot make you do something because they would get 4 or 5 huge males on a tiny female and make them physically do something they did not want to do (clean floors with toothbrush, get motivated by shaking arms like a lunatic frantically, and etc…). In addition to being abused myself, I witnessed numerous cases of abuse throughout the years I was there. Once free, I obtained legal counsel, sued Straight-Marietta/Atlanta and closed their doors for good. But the other video poster is correct in that they reopened in another place under a different name (for this place, it became the Nelson Price Treament Center in Marietta, GA, using the backing of a well-known Marietta church and preacher’s name to hide under).
    Like Clay L., I too had nightmares for years after becoming an adult (well into my adult years and late 30’s) and as a result, I am very untrusting of others and I also have quirky behavior like leaving lights on or making sure doors are secured and locked (just to name a couple).
    Straight severed family relationships and took my childhood (two things that are precious and irretrievably broken or severed), not to mention the severe, lifelong physical medical illnesses I got from being there.
    After getting out if Straight, I discovered there was more violence (rapes at gunpoint, for example) that occurred in other oldcomer homes. Straight was so bad for many of us, but I guess it was worse for some others.
    As an adult, today, with 5 children of my own, I guard them and protect them from abusive people and places like this. I now know and realize that Straight (under the direction of Miller Newton et al) was a mere money-making cult designed to instill fear in families by delivering continuous abuse to their offspring. The kind of thing that went on in this place was that of mind-control, brainwashing techniques, concentration camp techniques, and clear and undisputable physical, mental, verbal, emotional and sexual abuse. I was a victim of all this abuse, as were many thousands of us. In my opinion, the only fair punishment for all of the adults that headed up this program should be incarceration while being given the same treatment we received (withholding of food, peanut butter diets for months at a time, and all the other abuses we sustained). Does this make me an abuser of the same category? No, it makes me a product of their abuse they gave to me. Miller Newton, Dennis Buttimer, Dave Tllly, Adele Bird-they all deserve years of the same abuse. If I abused my kids in the way they abused me, then I would be sitting in prison or on death row.Why aren’t they? Why is Miller Newton still a free man?

    • Larry S. says

      My name is Larry S., I am a Recovered Drug Addict who Recovered using the 12 Step Approach as laid out in the Big Book of ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS.
      My Sponsor (Al T.) “Recovered” (22 years Sober), after staying in Residential Treatment at Straight for 540+ days!!
      He has told me (some) stories of the “methods” (Abuse) that transpired during his stay and I don’t doubt the horror of his (& others) experience(s).

      I can only speak for myself that my life while using was aimless, selfish, destructive & abusive- I am so grateful that my life today hardly resembles my life of old at all!
      Should I have remained unwilling to FREELY participate in Recovery, continuing to harm others, Society, myself my ends would likely have been becoming Mentally Unstable or in Jail: (Yes death was a possibility but then no more choices would need to be made).
      As I sit here “Recovered”, I’m not certain that even after reading all the horrific things that happened at “Straight”, that I still would not have considered it “an option” and been grateful, IF my obsession to drink & drive could have been removed at Straight Inc.
      My heart goes out to you all.
      I can say that my Sponsor has gone on to become a great friend:
      An honest man who works hard, is a role model in his community, generous, a good husband & father who provides well for his family.
      He is couragous , perhaps BECAUSE of Straight?!? I don’t have the answers, I’m not “Condoning their processes” only to say that there is at least one success story in Al T.
      After hearing of his home-life prior to Straight, he was no stranger to abuse!
      No one abuses Al T. today.
      Peace & G d bless you.

      • Susan T says

        Great for you;I am happy this sort of treatment helped you. Really, I am. On the flip side of the coin, there were many people forced into this Straight cult/government experiment who never used drugs a day in their life,myself included.
        I wonder what sort of drug problems I should have been addressing and why Straight/AA/NA or otherwise would fail to *help* a non-addict. Just curious.

  4. Marcus Chatfield says

    I wish I could amend something I said in that clip…”to realize you were abused is to realize you were an abuser”….while this may be generally true, it is not the truth for everyone who was subjected to Straight.

    That statement is only true for those who progressed in the program. Progress was dependant on displaying an internalization of the program, including the abusive aspects of the Straight personality.

    Many kids did not give in. Many kids refused to go with the program, endured insane abuse and torture, and made no progress.

    I recently heard through the grapvine…”You all making this movie act like you had no choice.”

    I think this is a pretty amazing statement, it brings up one of the aspects of brainwashing that was partially addressed by Congress in the early 70’s report, Individual Rights and the Federal Role in Behavior Modification. The citizens right to an authentic personality. The legal and human rights violations began to be identified in this Congressional Report, but the questions were not directly answered. The answer in practice is “no”, children especially, do not have the inherant right to their own personality.

    When subjected to the exteme psychological pressure of a program like Straight, it’s is hard to say if we really had a choice or not. The foundation for mind-control is based on the tendency humans have to dis-associate when under this type of pressure. In that dis-associated state, did we have a choice?

    I know that I and several others were bent to the breaking point, were broken and rebuilt, just as the technology was designed. But there were others who never gave in. Most were withdrawn from the program, either by their parents or by the staff who feared the effect this could have on group.

    If I had been reading a script during my interview I would have acknowledged that not all adopted the abusive psychology of the torturer, there was a percentage who failed at being a Straightling.

    • says

      There’s a reason why we hold children to different standards legally, why we don’t punish them as strictly as adults for various crimes, why they’re not allowed to drink alcohol, and why they’re not allowed to have sex with people outside of their age group: because their minds aren’t fully formed. Because they haven’t matured psychologically. Whatever you want to call it, children can’t be held to the same standards as an adult because they’re still developing the ability to make informed/rational choices.

      Yes, some kids were better equipped to resist the brainwashing and tolerate the abuse – but I don’t think that should reflect poorly on those who couldn’t. When I quoted you in the piece I meant to highlight the idea that you were probably a victim in both roles (both as a target of abuse and a coerced abuser), and I probably didn’t communicate that.

      I wonder, would we charge a person with murder if someone held a gun to their head and said “kill that guy, or I’ll kill you” – probably not, right?

      • rick says

        I have some degree of sympathy for those who experience any of the abuse. But, I cannot condone the somewhat weak and maybe “selfish” motivations which allowed this program to operate for so long. I think if you were an abuser, out of weakness, to further your own selfish interests, or some misguided belief in their system, you need to take responsibility for your behavior. Admit to yourself that you were wrong and forgive yourself but don’t excuse your weakness. Wrong is wrong, so recognize it for what it is and don’t allow yourself to be such an obedient and compliant person in the face of wrong-doing in the future. In over a year in Straight I spent one day on 2nd phase, and the first chance I got I left. Again. I left every chance I got. I never abused anybody except the abusers. I abused them every chance I got. I paid for it all day, every day for over a year. I paid with my physical and mental pain everyday, while you did not. So now it is your time to pay. Take your penance and become a better person. Face the mental anguish for the abuse that you heaped. Don’t excuse it. Accept it and move on. It is the weakness that exists within us that allows things like this to happen. We cannot excuse it. Hitler’s boys tried to use the fact that they were following orders as an affirmative defense. We cannot accept that as civilized people. Shame and guilt serve a purpose in a society. They tell us we did something wrong. Don’t deny it. Face it. You were abused, there is no doubt of that. But you were also an abuser, there is no doubt of that. So I appreciate your clarification Marcus. Congratulations on the work you have done. To your point Mr. Slate, I went to prison when I was a juvenile and stayed there for several years. I was in a prison where a riot occurred and one guy was in a cell with multiple people who had killed five people a couple of days earlier. They told him to kill another inmate in the cell with them or they would kill him. He did and he was sentenced to 7-25 years for manslaughter. I feel very sorry for him. I can’t think of many situations more horrible to be in than that. But I understand that we probably can’t allow even that to be an affirmative defense for murder in a civilized society. So yes, we would charge them and convict them. I went to prison for what I did. I have no problem with that because I did it. I was responsible and I paid and I will continue to in some ways for the rest of my life. That’s ok with me. I don’t make excuses for my behavior. I don’t blame my family or my “bad” childhood or how horribly I was abused. I am a better person for it. To Sonia I have to say that we don’t give a shit that Straight helped you. Let me tell you why. You refuse to realize that a program that supposedly helped you abused thousands of people and committed thousands of crimes. We could start an Anger Management group for straight survivors. We’ll come to your house, kidnap you and take turns putting our feet on your windpipe. Then we’ll get on a website and tell you how this therapy helped us resolve our anger issues. Get it now?

        • Susan the one who sued and began closure of Straight says

          Wow Rick. Thanks for that well thought out post. Unfortunately, there are some people who are still majorly brainwashed and rave about Straight. Child abuse is child abuse. I think I never progressed because I would not be abusive and confrontational; I always got sat down or confronted myself. It just was not in me then, but I think I put up with less sh** now because I was there; it did not make me a better person, but it made me a person untrusting of others, overly cautious of people’ motives, and profoundly insecure and robotic for years. There were people I knew (Patty Johnson, God rest her soul) who went onto staff, then left and overdosed and died. Many more are still attempting suicide today and some are succeeding. There is not a moment that goes by that I do not worry about being too confrontational with my own 5 children and second guessing whether or not what I say is an ingrained tape or is a reasonable mother.
          Carrie, another fellow straightling, recently told me, “Straight always taught us to talk about how we feel, when no one gives a rat’s butt about you feel; they only care about what you DO.”
          I have to agree. Show me. Don’t tell me.
          I defended myself in Straight when I was abused, to the extent that I could. There is still some animosity, mainly towards the parents (mine and others), which I deal with on a regular basis. I try not to dwell, and I find comfort in speaking to others who understand the embarrassing, humiliating, tortuous childhood I endured as a child, because I know they can completely understand where I am coming from and I completely understand where they are coming from. The experience changed every one of in a bad way in that the Susan I was died when I was 16 years-old. I reflect back and sometimes I wish I had that shy girl back in my personality that gets shown to the world today, but the truth is she is gone forever; she does not exist anymore.
          I started some Facebook groups for people to reunite and they turned into another nightmare. I closed the groups and the two Kellys reopened the groups and many more followed suit. I rejoined hoping to help others who might still be struggling and also to reunite with those who were a significant part of my childhood. They were made to be my childhood acquaintances without choice and selection. All of you have become an integral part of who I am today and you are deeply embedded in my memories forever. I ended up leaving all the groups again because for a select few, it was still old hat to call people out in the group, confront them just as in Straight, and berate them as if they were those same teenagers back at the building. The actions were very outstanding to me, maybe because I got confronted a lot and since I no longer am that scared little girl, I chose to leave the abusiveness behind. Now, I have a choice. I choose to try and understand how my brilliant parents were so helpless and “duped” as some call it. And I try to understand the dynamics of paying some strangers to take care of my child. I still struggle with both of those things daily because I would NEVER do that to any of my children and I would give my life for them to try and stop anyone else from doing so. That is what you do for your children.
          There were vast breakdowns in the family relationship that were wholly blamed on children in the family, even though Straight was a family treatment program; I cannot say I have ever heard to date that any one parent was abused in the ways we were, nor food, medical care, and other basic necessities withheld from them.
          Our parents allowed STRANGERS to abuse and neglect us. Our parents allowed STRANGERS to withhold food from us for months. Our parents were perfectly content with someone else taking on their responsibility of raising us, and might I add that they delegated responsibility of raising and taking care of us to families who were just as neglectful and irresponsible and incapable of raising children as they were.
          And one last comment, in case someone comes up with the “I would have died” remarks, I was a sweet and innocent child who was too afraid to do any wrong because of the wrath of God my parents would instill upon my rear or beat me to a bloody pulp if I even remotely embarrassed them for a second (trust me on that one).much less do any drugs. That does not mean I condone the program for someone who did do drugs, because I do not. Likewise, please do not try to convince me that your parents did not know how to transport your butt to a medical facility and have you medically treated for drug abuse if you needed help. THAT IS GARBAGE!!! Just as they knew how to transport themselves to an obstetrician to deliver you as a baby, their head was not up their butt being delivered right alongside you!
          We were a horrible bother to our parents and they bailed on parenting WAY before Straight.
          I do not bail on my children and by virtue, they have no reason to seek out habitually, offending, detrimental behaviors such as drug use. That is one thing Straight did not take from me and one thing they did not instill in me. This nurturing behavior was well-thought out way before Straight when I realized something was inherently wrong with my parent’s parenting skills. I knew it as a very small child and I still know it today. My dad has profusely apologized and he is the one that pulled me, in light of my overbearing and controlling mother threatening to divorce him, which is what she ended up doing anyway; in my opinion, he is way better off without the mental illnesses she has. I try to steer clear myself and no one has to direct my children the other way, as they plainly see with their own eyes and make good, sound choices when it comes to being polite but distant. I applaud my children for the responsible human beings they are becoming. I applaud my children for making great choices in their lives and learning from the mistakes they make as well. And I pat myself on the back for striving daily to not allow the deranged “parent tapes”, from Straight and my upbringing, to cloud my judgment,
          Just like many of you, I battle the PTSD and I try to face my fears instead of running from them.
          I have reunited with many of you, with whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know outside of a concentration camp. I applaud you all for having the courage to stand up and share your story. I applaud you for taking responsibility for anything you feel you need to own up to; that takes courage.

    • Susan says

      Marcus, in reply to what you commented on, we did not have a choice. Some people, like me, never even touched drugs before coming to Straight and it was all about a *control* thing with our parents. Even when I tried to play the program and *think up* things to talk about, I only made it to 3rd phase and then got sent to my own home on newcomer status. I stagnated because I could not dream up things I had never been exposed to. Sure, I heard others talking about events, but I was terrified that if I made up a lie I would not be able to remember the lie (and I would not have) and then I would have been tortured for lying. It was a lose-lose situation for me. I gained nothing from Straight except determination to stand at the gates of hell to fight for myself, my children, and what is right. My guess is that I am that type of person already and Straight did not cause that. All that Straight did for me was rip me from my normal life and friends, keep me from graduating school with my class, keep me from attending a prom, keep me from getting a senior yearbook (which all meant something very dear to me), keep me from joint enrollment in my senior year, cause extreme mental, physical,and emotional damage, cause psychological damage, caused me to go downhill from a typical teenager AFTER leaving that place, caused permanent broken family ties and mistrust (not just with me, but with all of my family), reinforced that my parents have issues with control & other, caused me to be extrememly untrusting & cautious of others, marital issues later in life, and the list goes on. Those images of abuse I suffered and abuse I saw others suffer are crystal clear in my mind as if they happened only last week. The damage caused by that place is horrific, even for those who had severe drug problems (they needed medical care, not kids on kids which can be cruel at very least).
      That place almost cost me my life several times, while in there and after exiting. A relative (sort of by marriage) of mine, Dave TIlley, was on Executive Staff. We don’t speak and for years, I wanted to harm his family and kidnap them and torture them as I had been tortured. I have no respect for the church I grew up in, which he is active in and my views about God changed drastically (although I still believe in a God because that is how I survived). For years, I had hatred in my heart for all involved, then I realized the kids were only pawns; the adults were the ones that should have put a stop to it, but they were weak also (obviously). I could never turn my head on abuse to anyone, especially my own children. Straight made the parents feel like (and even told them) that we would be dead if it were not for them. Truth be known, I have been near death many times in my life because of them. If it were not for Straight, I would have taken a different life path-a better life path. I would have graduated with a degree in electrical engineering early on and many personal choices would have been different. Instead, my life went a different route. And although I am happy to have the 5 children and husband I have today, along with college degrees in Criminal Justice and nursing, it happened much later than expected and these were not the chosen fields I had originally desired for myself. I have made the best of my life, in spite of the circumstances and I have turned out well. I am an at home mom. I homeschool, still hold my nursing license, and I use my skills to help my kids and others with special needs. I have a decent home, 5 children (with a grandchild on the way), and I have been married to my husband for 12 of the 16 years we have been together. My husband has a good job with a reputable company and we seem to be fairing better than most in this fallen economy. My children will all have a good Christmas, and I am content in where I am for now. The psychological damage remains, as does the emotional harm, but I am able to psyche myself out and deal with it much more appropriately at age 46 than I dealt with it in my teenage years, as well as 20’s and 30’s. They say time heals all wounds; I say that is not entirely true. Some wounds constantly ache and seem to be like a cancer. Straight is my cancer. I deal with it and I have good days and I have bad days. I must be in remission because I have more good days than bad days. :D The cancer creeps up sometimes and I have to be strong, remember who I am, and realize that those days are gone. I have to remind myself that the cancer is really gone and only a memory exists of it. I try to band together with others that have had similar experiences (the same cancer, so to speak) because I know we share a common history and can understand exactly how each feels and thinks.
      I look to the future and surround myself with what makes me happy. I steer clear of control and I make decisions for myself that make me feel happy.
      This sets me apart from some that have been through places like Straight. I feel for those who did lose a family member to that *cancer* (Straight). I understand why they cannot forgive, forget, or let go. In doing so, means that they would have to let go of their beloved. I hope to one day see these affected individuals to come to a place of happiness and content, knowing their beloved is in a better place and they are no longer suffering with the tragic memories of that place. It is these people that need our love, support, help, and encouragement. We should work together to help them find peace to move on in life. They deserve to be happy, happier than their beloved who is no longer with us.

  5. Sonia says

    While I have never denied that terrible acts were committed in Straight in the name of recovery it is a dangerous path when one states opinions as facts. It is a sad comment that anyone who is not anti Straight is seen as suffering from Stockholm Syndrome and pro Straight. I do not stiffle anyone that tells their story of what happened to them nor do I shout them down and tell them they are delusional. Why can they not do the same for me, or anyone else that got the help they needed from Straight? I know many people that 20+ years later are still sober and Straight gave them the foundation they needed. They are not pro Straight. The hate is so stong in some people that thye see us as brushing off the abuse that people suffered from even after we express our sorrow and shame for what happened to them. We share in your pain yet your continued hatred directed at us as we try to share out experience only drives us farther away from supporting you. Maybe if you stop yelling at us and hating us we might be able to help since we shared a very unique experience.

    • Kelly Matthews says

      @Sonia I myself don’t consider someone pro-straight just because they claim they got help. However, just because “straight” helped them doesn’t mean it should have ever happened. I have a problem with people who are truly pro-straight. That believe because it helped them it should have existed, no matter who it hurt. I also have my own beliefs when it comes to addiction and it NOT being a disease. I believe there is more proof to support this then oppose it. However, I have no hate for anyone who believes Straight helped them.

      I had some pretty interesting discussions on a certain Facebook group, with several of the members, until I was told to shoot myself for believing Addiction, which I have been subject to, is not a disease. When someone starts spouting Straight rhetoric, I tend to give my opinion or belief on the subject and don’t expect to be attacked for it. Respect goes both ways.

      I have no hate, not even for the survivor who thinks Straight was great. The only thing I have hate for is Straight itself and those adults that chose to lock children up and take away their rights. Those who chose to let teens diagnose other teens, and interrogate many who into admitting they had a problem they did not have. Confrontational therapy, if it’s your thing, great, but it should ALWAYS be voluntary. Children should never be forced to endure such horrors nor should adults. Period. Personally I think it’s a crock though and other methods work better.

      Maybe people should start giving themselves credit for “waking up” and choosing to stay clean, rather the giving credit to an abusive institution that really didn’t care about anything but the bottom line.

    • Clay L. says

      See, I look at this differently. That some folks actually came out of there and remained clean is something that happened in spite of straight, not because of the assistance the individual received there. I know many people as well who have long periods of sobriety that started in straight, and most of them agree with me on this point. When looking a the surface, it all started in that place, but when one delves only just a little deeper, that place didn’t help them all that much. It was the relationships we all managed to build in some fashion that saved us not that place and its ruinous treatment modality.

      Also, how many former clients lives were totally ruined (Think suicide here), how many former clients ended up with severe mental issues, how many former clients have never been able to developed as well as they should have, compared to the few who actually received help from that place? Now that’s a statistic I’d like to have.

      Your argument is like saying that because a Dachau survivor did well after being released and rehabilitated, that Dachau wasn’t so bad. While none of us were tested to see how long we’d survive in hypothermia, or without a liver, make no mistake, we were subjected to many things that are completely unethical.

      Lastly, failure to try to look at that place through other peoples experience is short sited and I do indeed believe many many folks minimize or just don’t remember what went on in that place.

    • Susan says

      Sonia, not sure who is *yelling* at anyone. But if you read my previous post, maybe you can begin to understand why some people have difficulty moving from the past.
      Straight was not medical or professional help; however, I am glad it helped you (in an odd sort of way). In reality, you are easily swayed, which is not to say anything negative about you, but perhaps what got you off the beaten path also got you back on the path to life. For that, I am happy for you.
      Straight is all about kids on kids. Straight was all about money. If you do some research, you see the monetary empire and the cult for what it really was. Sad, but true. I personally had no idea what all was behind Straight until recently. Mark Levine can help to enlighten you on the corruption.
      The truth is that none of the people higher up in charge of Straight cared a damn about about whether or not us kids got *Straight*, got off drugs, or were even on drugs to begin with. It was all about taking the $$$.
      I think we need to be a little more empathetic with an open ear to really listen to what some families have endured. While I endured some horrific abuse, I came out 30 years later with my life. Some people were not so lucky. Some people lost their lives in Straight; some people lost their lives after Straight. I was one of the lucky ones, as are all the people commenting here.
      I started a FB group, which many people (who 7 stepped Straight) left. Many negative comments started to ensue and it became a big fight. Some people that I think were never in Straight started posting odd stuff. I closed the group and it was reopened (divided into two separate FB pages). The so-called *positive* people never sent me a request to join the group and the so-called *nay-sayers* did. It sent me into a different perspective. The people you say are yelling at you are merely reaching out for help; they need our support, understanding, and years more therapy than I can give them. They have a *right* to feel the way they do and they have a *right* to say the things they do, just as you have a right to say how Straight helped you. As human beings, who share a common bond, we have an obligation to not shun either side. We do not have to belong to either group or we could belong to both. The nice thing about that is as adults, we now have a choice to make on our own about that.
      I lost a friendship from someone I knew in that place, recently, all because I asked her why her daughter was attacking me on FB. Instead of dealing with the situation, she deleted me and blocked me. Her daughter was use deroggatory language towards me and telling me to get off FB. I was totally shocked. I began to realize that this person, who graduated and became part of Straight, was no better off than those who were still stuck in the past with losing a loved one; however, she believes she is. The thing is that each person copes differently and perceives the same exact situation differently. If you take 100 people who were involved in a tragic incident, each one will come out of it differently and each one will have a vastly different story to tell. Each one’s brain will interpret information differently, if even slightly. And they all will remember it differently. In the legal field, we call that courtroom truth. One event can be seen 100 different ways.
      All that said, maybe look into what the person (or persons) who you portray as yelling at you are really saying. What are they really saying. What are they really feeling. What really happened to their persona and soul. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand what they are going through. Then, and only then, can you begin to see ways that you might be able to reach out and help these people, who do need our help. *We* are the only ones who can truly understand and who can truly help these people. If you feel you cannot do that, then you need to reach deep inside of yourself and ascertain why not. To do that is to be human. Straight took away our humanity. Isn’t it time that we all get that humanity back?

  6. Lucy says

    As I read your article, I thought of a high school friend who suffers from bipolar disorder.

    Her father was a doctor and sent her to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist was vehemently anti-drug, and, when she told him she had tried marijuana, ignored the obvious symptoms of depression and sent her to a mental health facility for several months.

    In the 1960s, drug treatment programs in mental health facilities weren’t much better than the teen treatment industry is today. Psychiatrists used electroshock therapy to control kids who were unruly, and doused angry kids with ice water. The regularly used cattle prods, isolation, straight jackets and four point restraints.

    As I read this article, I thought of my friend living through the hell of 1965 “treatment” because of a misdiagnosis. I realized that these teen treatment centers are not the progeny of a well conceived therapeutic model, but of parental scare tactics and Torquemada torture techniques.

    Not much has changed since 1965. There are just more snake pits around so that people can make money off of them.

    When I was in treatment in 1982, the center admitted a 15 year old girl who had been doing acid with her boyfriend when he killed himself. The girl had suffered severe anxiety as the result of his death, and her parents had sent her to the center to “straighten her out.” But when her parents came for family week, her dad was so drunk that he had to be taken off the center grounds by police.

    Find a kid with a problem, and you’ll find parents who contributed to it. I guess these places just help them feel less guilty.

  7. Sonia says

    Lastly, failure to try to look at that place through other peoples experience is short sited and I do indeed believe many many folks minimize or just don’t remember what went on in that place.

    This is one of this biggest issues I have. I am short sighted b/c I can not or do not see the place through someone elses eyes. Yet on the flip side you tell me I minimize or don’t remember what went on in that place. Seems as if there is a failure on your side to see the place through someone elses eyes. As I stated before I do not call into question what any says they experienced there and hold what they say as the truth. Yet you can not do the same for me. If someone is not 100% anti Straight than anything they have to say is called into question. Frustrating to see people that I know that were helped by what they went through be told they are delusional or do not remember. You do not see any of us tell any of you that you don’t remember what happened in there and are exaggerating events do you? No b/c we respect you and your voice. Why can you not do the same for us? Weird that a group of people that shared a very unique experience can not find any common ground to get along. Please take your own advise and stop being, as you said, short sighted.

    • Kelly says

      Sonia you said “Lastly, failure to try to look at that place through other peoples experience is short sited and I do indeed believe many many folks minimize or just don’t remember what went on in that place.”

      I’d have to say, when children are being abused, I could care less about the positive. Period. End of story. I think if you were ever in a situation where your children were being harmed, you would not care about all the kids that were having a GOOD time in the same situation. Your focus would be on taking care of your children and getting them out of harms way. So I don’t think anyone is being short sighted. If you had a good time in straight? Good for you, I DON’T CARE. They killed my brother, hundreds of others, caused thousands to have PTSD. That’s my only concern. As it should be. Abuse is the problem, a few people escaped that abuse, good for you. Have a great life, I’m about being active in the fight to END the abuse that still goes on to this day!

      Peace out!

  8. Sonia says

    That’s about the type of reply I have come to expect from your side of the issue. It’s either calling us delusional, brushing us off as crazy, being closeminded while telling us we need to be openminded or just plain ignorant. We will be openminded and accepting of people to make up for you all. Too bad you think not being anti Straight is being pro Straight. You only have one opinion and state it as fact. Anyone that does not agree with you is wrong and should not be listened to. We all must conform to your way of thinking. Hmmm sounds to me like some people are still in Straight and practicing the very program they hate. We will pray for you.

    • Kelly says

      Sonia,
      First of all who is we, can’t you really only speak for yourself? Ultimately WE don’t have a side, I speak for myself and myself only. I’m not sure who you speak for, but my guess is you really can’t speak for anyone but Sonia.

      Second if someone is not ANTI child abuse, it leaves me to believe they are pro child abuse. If they don’t have a problem with kids being abused, then yes I would look at them as someone that supports abuse. Straight Inc., was abusive to children. I would venture to say you are ANTI child abuse, so to not be anti-straight makes me realize you don’t know the whole story. It’s a pretty logical conclusion. Therefore, maybe once you realize that Straight in fact abused children, your tune will change. Who knows? One can only hope.

      I am ANTI abuse, therefore I am ANTI Straight Inc. and all that they stand for.

      *reposted and edited the last line.

  9. Sonia says

    Kelly funny how you only point out that I am supposedly speaking for others but not anyone else in this thread that is doing the same but agrees with you. Weird how it works out that way. Clay is with you and you with him – yet he makes a statement that people such as myself have minimized what went on or do not remember. He does not know me yet speaks for me. I did not see you calling him out on the matter. Why is that? Is it because he things the same as you? Your argument would hold more weight had you directerd it toward him as well. I have my own support group of people that were in Straight before, during and after so when I speak about “us” I have their full support when doing so. Clay stated an opinion as fast – which I pointed out is a very dangerous thing to do but alas you either did not catch that or since you agree with him it’s only ok to do so when it supports you. You are entitled to your own opinion just as I am. Imagine your reaction if I were to post something like “well since Straight worked for me and many people I know those that it did not work for must have had other issues or just not worked the program”. She how an opinion stated as fact can be more damaging than the facts? Now this is not my opinion nor is it a fact but it is the opposit of what people who are anti Straight claim – anyone that got better b/c of Straight is delusional, crazy or not remembering what really went on. I only hope that the other side, and yes there are two sides to this issue, can one day understand that just b/c we got the help we needed we do not care about those that suffered and are still suffering today. Do not hate us b/c we somehow escaped or did not experience the abuse many others did. Less hatred towards us could bring many more people to help spread the message you are trying to get across.

      • Susan says

        Thank you Steven. Some people are oblivious ot brainwashing because they are no longer on the same path that they were as a child. They consider that *helping* them.
        Sonia and some others have not done their research and they do not realize what a money-making empire cult that Straight was. Straight was a cult, Sonia, and it was all about money; it was not about helping you. I am glad you are a successful person today in spite of Straight. My guess is you were not subjected to extreme physical, sexual, emotional, and mental abuse. My guess is you were the STAR of the Straight program and you wanted to be there. Sad thing is that so many people are used to abuse that they just cannot see the forest for trees. I feel for you, and I will pray for you to see the forest and the trees from all sides (the whole picture).
        You are who you are today because you made better choices. You are not better off because you had undereducated children beating good sense into you. Let’s really think about what you are saying.
        No matter what your life is today, it was not becuse of the *glory* of Straight. By your remarks, we can all see you were successfully brainwashed past the point of no return, whether or not you 7 stepped or left the program.
        I have seen many people who 7 stepped and who are not necessarily anti-Straight, who have endured years and years of abuse afterwards because they are used to that type of thing. Abuse hides in many forms (my guess is you will say you have not been abused after Straight). That is just it. Some people cannot even recognize abuse now because they live in it everyday. What you are saying in response to these hurting people is very abusive. It shows that you have had humanity ripped from your soul and you (and only you) are righteous for believing the way you do. We all suffered abuse, even if we were the ones watching and not getting physically abused; as watchers, we were abused.
        I hope that you can sit and think about where some people are coming from and in the meantime, do your research on Mel Sembler and Miller Newton (amongst others). Pray about it before responding and ask God to help you to understand something you have apparently missed.
        I am glad you are doing well today in spite of a horrible money-making empire. The people who started the beginnings of Straight originally had good intentions. It is sad that it became something different in the end.
        I am personally glad that I was instrumental in closing the Austell Rd Straight and I would do it all over again and fight until the end. Ironically, that old Straight is a Child Protective Services unit, now, in Cobb County.

          • Susan says

            Just speaking from the heart as a human being. I can only imagine what it would be like to lose a sibling. I lost my grandmother on December 1st (yesterday was very difficult for me). :(
            I know what it felt like to almost lose myself. My husband says almost doesn’t count, but yes it does. I would have never taken my life before Straight, but as it turns out, after being there, I considered it several times.
            I see people going to the extreme on both sides of the equation. Both sets of people are still having an extremely difficult time coping with the autrocities of that place. My heart goes out to all of those people.
            I think that sticking to the facts of what we saw, what we endured, what really happened, who we lost as a group of kids, is the best way to cope. In the process, many people have a variety of feelings about what we saw, what we endured, what really happened, and what family members and friends we lost. To not have these feelings would be inhumane, for that is the little smidgen of humanity we are able to hold onto. I understand and can appreciate that.
            I think it is very cold to dismiss that as *those people are still living in the past*. By the same token, I find it very odd that some people can only use profanity and nonsensical behavior to cope. I try to dissociate from those types of people because it is not who I am. (When I saw an ordained “priest” using language I saw on FB, I was appalled that he could use the word “priest” and “foul language” in the same breath. None of us are perfect, but that was a little overwhelming.)
            I do hope that in time there will be some substantial compensation and resolutions for your losses and the losses of others I received some compensation, but it would have never been enough. The satisfaction I received was by helping others by virtue of closing that place down. I hope it all helped some in some ways. If ever I can do anything to help you with your pain, please let me know; I will do my best. By the same token, I hope you are there for me, if ever I need it. Take care.

    • Kelly says

      I have no hatred. You are making an assumption, based on what, me being attacked by someone else on a Facebook thread when I discussed my opinion on drug addiction? Where is this hate you seem to think I have? You are wrong.

    • Clay L. says

      Yes, I have stated my opinion, nothing more, nothing less. If I was going to put forth an argument, then I would have included supporting articles along with annotations. I stand by my words. Failure to look at that place through other peoples experience is short sited and I do indeed believe many many folks minimize or just don’t remember what went on in that place.

      Please notice that I use the first person. In writing this denotes personal belief or opinion. I called no one delusional, crazy, or mental, I just said I believe them to be dishonest with themselves. Hate y’all? Oh please.

      I do feel pity and sadness though.

      I have said all there is to say on this really. I have neither the time nor the inclination to argue if it is acceptable or moral to destroy people in the name of helping them. We were human beings, not mayonnaise.

      To the rest of your arguments, I give a heart felt whatever.

      • Susan the one who sued and began closure of Straight says

        LOL Clay…..want to share your religious beliefs? Just asking without any need to know personally. :D

  10. Sonia says

    @ Steve – I turend 18 while on 1st phase and could have walked out the door anytime I wanted. Straight gave me the basic foundation of AA to help me rebuild my life and the way I thought I about life. I believed it was ok to steal from work, break into neighbors houses and take whatever I found in the medicine cabinet. I dropped out of high school. I emptied my father’s bank account to buy drugs. I thought this destructive behavior was ok. I had no self worth. Straight taught me to think in a diferent way. To behave in a different less self abusive manner. To appreciate something that I had set a goal to earn and worked towards that goal. Straight taught me I was not a bad person and there were other people who felt the same way I did. Taught me to trust other people and that asking for help was not a sign of weekness. 24 years later I an still sober. So for me it worked and that is what Straight taught me.

    @ Clay – I just find it odd that you state your opinion and include people you have never met. Stand by your words and see the place through other peoples eyes then. I will not state again my feeling about the abuse that happened to other people b/c it has fallen upon deaf ears. I see and hear what other people have to say and take them at their word. Something you advise but do not do yourself. You have proved this point in your posts. You are unable to see it through my eyes yet see nothing wrong with that contadiction.

    I have never stated what my version of G-d is yet you you again make an assumption about me – and one that is wrong yet again. B/c I disagre with you want nothing to do with I have to say, think or feel. You continue to teach the very ideals you hate about Straight.

    @ Kelly – I have read enough of your posts on many other sites to say that yes I believe that anyone that does not share your total hatred of all things Straight you hate for the sole purpose b/c you equate not being anti Straight as somehow evil and against you and the terrible loss of your brother.

    If we say we are sober today b/c of the help we got from Staight we are crazy or don’t remember what happened. Who is to say that maybe it is you that do not remember what really happened. See how easily things can be turned around and thrown back at you. Now before you all go off half cocked remember in my last post I only used this as an example and said I do not believe this to be the case.

    I see your side. You can not even come to grips that there is a different side than the one you are on.

    I hope all that are suffering find whatever peace they are looking for and yes I will still pray for you all. Interesting to note I never said what or who I pray to yet an assumption was made. Dangerous to do that.

    • Clay L. says

      You have no idea what I am talking about. You came in way past Fred Collins, way past many of the other straight’s being shutdown because of abuse. You just don’t have a clue where I am coming from.

      You turned 18 one week after being signed in, well la-ti-da. I was 18 when I signed myself in and it didn’t matter then if one was over or under 18. I watched 5th phasers tear up withdrawal requests and laugh at people trying to get out who over 18 and not court ordered. I watched people who couldn’t take the abuse dig in their arms with fingernails and even saw one girl yank out a small artery squirting blood all over the girls next to her. I have seen much more and much of it I will never be able to forget. I was starved, spent several months allowed to only sleep 1 to 2 hours a night, I spent months on end where not one thing nice was said to me. I was also a true believer, ended up a Jr. 2 and almost a Sr. Staff member. I was also more than 18 years clean when someone finally listened to me and made a correct diagnosis and everything fell into place for me.

      I think I know just a little more about that place than you do. Am I deaf to your arguments? You bet! I have lived both sides of the argument and know where I stand.

      Now, I know you are going to discount all of this and write me off as someone in denial. That’s okay with me, I just don’t care.

      One other thing, all that crap you said straight gave you? You do realize that you could have achieved the same ends without straight too, right? The only things I got from that place that I couldn’t have found elsewhere were nightmares, and PSS (Post Straight Syndrome) with all its itinerant baggage.

      I will not reply to this thread any more.

      Last, I made no assumptions about your version of God, but only see Him as you represent Him.

      • Clay L. says

        Awww, shoot! And all that means is your experience was vastly different than mine. Not quite so bad.

        So never mind the rant….

        • terri says

          Clay I was also abused, physically and mentally. That place screwed me for years in fact, to this day I have never had a normal relationship. What you are saying is the TRUTH I lived it too.

      • Susan says

        Clay, you are not a sad, sick person. You are a person recovering from institutional abuse, just as we all are. Some just refuse to progress in *this* program called life.
        I learned a few things about you from reading your posts that I did not know. However, I know all of what you say is true….sad and heartbreaking, but oh so true.
        @Sonia, that is the point. We unfortunately *do* see your side and we know you are one of the ones still stuck in the past, believing that place was helpful to you.
        I know from personal experience that someone can get off bad drugs without Straight, without institution, and without a doctor. To say that Straight *helped* you means that you are really saying that you think nothing was wrong with the place because you cannot say that witnessing or enduring abuse to children is a healthy thing. Hello?
        You are still living in the pseudo-reality of 7 stepping. You are not better off for having witnessed or being involved in heinous and egregious crimes to children. I think most people who are being really painstakingly honest about that place can see this is where the problem lies.

  11. Sonia says

    One sad sick person you are my friend and I hope you get better. You have no idea when I came in, what Straight I was in, what I witnessed or what I experienced. The fact that you think I turned 18 one week into Straight only proves my point that people such as yourself do not even take the time to read what people such as myself are writing. I know where you are coming from and up unti lthat last post gave you the benifit of the doubt that you spoke the truth about your time there. But now I will say I give 0 credit to anything you say since you have shown that you are just unable to see past the hatred and that is a sad way to live. You are correc that I discount you now and this is something I am just going to have to come to terms with myself. I’d say go back and read what you have posted here and realy see that in every reply to me you stand on your soapbox and shout that your view is the only one that can be right while I had patiently tried to tell you yes you have your view but here is mine and it is just as valid but I undertstand where you are coming from. You want to know why there is so much hate still to this day being spewed about Straight? Sure a lot of it has to do with the trerrible unspeakable crap that happened there. But a part is also due to people such as yourself that can not get past the hatred you have and let it fester for decades and take it out on the few people that shared a unique experience with you. But you shout them down b/c they did not suffer as much as you and you resent us for that. If we can take what each other has posted and see their image of G-d then your god is a vile, self loathing hypocrite that is blind to other people. I not only will still pray for you but I pity you as well. I tried to be polite here but it appears as if you have mastered the teachings you learned in Straight and only dragged me down to your level. Keep coming back it works if you work it.

    • Susan says

      @Sonia, you are really resorting to name calling? Really? (calling Clay one sad sick person). He is NOT sad and he is only sick from the abuse he suffered. He has moved way past that place, whereas you seem to be stuck in the same damn hellhole.
      There are no “levels” here Sonia. All the children in Straight were abused, as I have stated before, I am appalled that your brain has accepted the abuse and in awe that you are still able to dish it out. I like to think we are all humans here.

  12. JR Harris says

    One thing I am noticing is that this discussion seems to be focusing on the “Age of Majority” which is prescribed by law as the point they “assume control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thereby terminating the legal control and legal responsibilities of their parents or guardian over and for them.” This age limit is determined by the society they are a member of. This age limit is also different in different countries and in the US is generally considered to be 18 with the exception of drinking Alcohol. The actions of Straight, Inc. were horrendous and that is why they are no longer around and disbanded.

    The survivors of Straight, Inc. are now at the age of “majority” and have every legal right to pursue and legally punish the people that abused them by assuming control over their persons, actions, and decisions. I wish them well in this journey to make sure it never happens to another teen. Psychological and physical torture is still torture, no matter how you want to debate it. I see people trying to justify it by saying that it helped some but not all. This is a justification based on sacrificing the lives of a few to save the lives of many. Unfortunately I believe Straight, Inc. has an inverse relationship where the lives of many were sacrificed for the lives of a few. If this is the case, it needs to be documented and explored fully. I commend the Survivors of Straight, Inc. for their actions and stand behind them completely.

    • Kelly says

      JR Harris,
      Nice post. Straight by name went away, but it’s still around. So are many abusive institutions as you probably know.

      It is very difficult to pursue anything legally at this point due to the statue of limitations. There are a few loop holes. If you can, for instance, prove federal kidnapping (like if you were over 18, or were an emancipated adult) there is no statue. If you can also get a diagnosis from a doctor and tie the cause to Straight, then you open a window where you can sue, in some states.

      I’d agree, torture is torture. If some kids were tortured in Straight, then Straight itself was bad, I don’t care who it helped, it’s really a moot point in my book.

  13. JR Harris says

    Crimes against Humanity have no statute of limitations. The prison guards in concentration camps that did not participate in any torture, were tracked down in their 70’s and brought to justice. They were only doing their jobs and may have even been forced to work there. According to the International community, they had a moral obligation to prevent what was happening. In a plea deal they often gave up information about the actual perpetrators of torture. They were found through documentation by the survivors. I commend what you are doing.

    I understand that Straight, Inc. turned into the Drug Free America Foundation (DFAF), an International corporation. Have they helped to spread the policies of Straight, Inc to any International institutions that can be considered abusive. The International community takes human rights abuses very seriously. They are known to sanction companies that supply anything to corporations they believe are guilty of crimes against humanity.

    • Kelly says

      AARC in Canada uses the same model that Straight used. The guy that opened AARC, trained under Miller Newton, who was with Straight until he finally started his own Program, Kids. So I’d say yes.

      Also groups like WWASP, Aspen Education Group. There are others you can find here
      http://wiki.fornits.com However they are not all Straight clones, but definitely abusive institutions.

      • Jennifer says

        From my understanding Michael Scalleta who was one of the execs at the Orlando Straight inc. Is associated with AARC in Canada as well. I only saw this when I did a search for his name and found his work associations. He went from straight to kids to AARC from what I can remember.

  14. JR Harris says

    I was wondering if in the US you keep track of known abusers to to see if they keep maintaining tendencies of abusing their patients. In the US, all states have independent medical boards which keep track of violations that the registered medical professional in that state are sanctioned for. It is usually a publicly available database. All that you would need to know is what state they are registered in and their full name to see if they have been sanctioned or accused of any violations.

    When they are being investigated for an allegation that is also publicly posted. This would be the time for other victims to come forward and contact the medical board in that state. A quick search showed that Florida and Georgia have these databases. Australia and the UK where many of them may have fled to avoid possible prosecution until things died down may be more difficult. They most likely worked in the same industry in the UK and Australia

  15. JR Harris says

    Kelly – that fornits wiki and the other two linked sites are pretty impressive. I have never seen it before. I have looked at a few of the forums before, but just a few of the threads and never the front end. Thank you for pointing it out. It does seem well organized. I was not aware of these problems until they were pointed out to me, and that other people were researching it to this depth.

  16. Hollis says

    Somehow I survived for 2 years in this place as a teen trying to hold on to my mind until I could run at 18. When I turned 18 I ran away only to be hunted down and kidnapped at age 18 without any type of court order. Jerry Rushing (Cinci / Executive Director) ordered others in the group to go to my home town to kidnap me. I was held prisoner in this abusive mind control, criminal cult for another 2 years for a total life sentence of 4 years in Straight. 30 years of nightmares. Still a survivor.

    • Marcus Chatfield says

      Hey Hollis,

      Have you tried to get your local member of Congress to investigate the Federal role in developing and supporting the program? I could email you a letter from my congressman’s office to the Department of Justice. You might be able to get your local politicians interested in investigatiing it as well. The more the better. My email is dragonfly-1969@live.com

  17. Jennifer says

    Way I see it is that those who went through the program and beleive to this day that it helped anyone, they are still under the brainwashing. Straight ruined my childhood and continues to haunt me 20 years later. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me. Also claiming to be not for profit private programs, then why did they take my parents insurance with 2 years paid in full? I was there for 10 months, the rest went in their pocket. It did not help me nor did it help anyone I know, in fact the torture remains deep with in me as well as many many others, the nightmares remain. I have PTSD, depression, anxiety, social phobias, and panic disorder, all as a result of my treatment in Straight. I know that I am not alone that there are thousands of others who suffer today as well. The sad part now is that facilities like these continue to run today. Why is it okay for strangers and children to abuse other children, when I can be put in jail for spanking my own? Abuse that is much much worse then a spanking! That is all I can say at the moment as thinking of it all is causing me anxiety as I type.

    • Susan says

      Jennifer, you hit the nail on the head. Those individuals, who believe (in their mind) that Straight did them any good, are still under the control of the brainwashing they endured. It is sad to me. I guess some of us are just stronger people than others. We need to help the weaker in mind, somehow. I know, by genetics, that I am a very strong-headed person. I, like many others, was able to start climbing out of the concentration camp for children. How can we help others to climb out?
      I am glad some are sober today that were not yesterday, but I also do not think it is a crime if I go out and have a pitcher of margaritas with consenting adults of age to do so. I understand I am not an alcoholic, though, too. Some people are alcoholics, but what they do not understand is that sober they are still dry alcoholics. Their behavior can only be changed by themselves, not any psychiatrist, doctor, group, or Straight program. It is sad to see that it takes brainwashing a person in order for them to believe that a place such as Straight was helpful. :(

  18. jen says

    I was held Captive in 1986 I was 14 ….I was never stoned… I only drank 2 times Never did ANY DRUGS AT ALL ” I was called a dry druggie I was restrained 100s of times I was a missbehavior because I was “in denial” of my drug problem that I have never had I never did shit …when I figured out I wasnt getting out I was going to disrupt the group as much as I could before they put me in time out room …. I have permanent neck back and knee problems from being restrained so many times by other detainees.. Everything I have bad ie. Panic attacks cronic pain and anger issues is all from Straight inc 2400 silver star road orlando florida ….. I still cringe when I hear cats in the cradle… I would have been fine if I was never taken there to be evaluated…… Once you were getting evaluated you were NEVER getting out EVER …. In prision and jail you get 1 phone call a day in Jail you get to talk to your parents..You get to go outside in the sunshine in jail in 17 months we went in the back outside barbe wire fence area 1 time EVER .. forced confessions so you can earn your talk with your parents .. There still scamming the govt getting medicade .Cassian miller miller newton … I am great today except for my back and neck injurys that I recieved in straight as a missbeghavior….. as I never had a drug problem and I still do not have a drug problem and I am a sucessful business owner and This Scam that the govt has been backing all these years… Stupid hand gestures talking behind ,backs face forward, Beltloops straightlings You mother Fuckers better watch your backs!!! WE the Survivors are linking up and finding each other were comming to get your ASSES!!!! You stole at least 6 years of my life and it almost cost my parents ME as I hated them so bad for getting me evaluated and it was a scam to get my parents money and then you had to pay the host family to feed your kid…. NOW all these years later My parents wish they never did that Now they understand what they did and they feel awful my Parents were a different victom, There were 15 kids 12-14 that never did drugs like me and they were locked in there for months and as soon as you get to 2nd phase they found a way to set you back to keep you there longer and collect the $$ from your family……. It is a scam in the bible it states people that abuse children should have a bolder tied around there neck and thrown into the sea!!!!!!!! Bootcamps AARC Kids helping kids straight inc church by the sea were finding out who you assholes are and where you work FAKE bible thumping mother fuckers!!!!!!!!!!! i could go on for hours what I saw and heard that a little 14 year old girl that was innocent had to be forced to hear and see I HOPE all the executives founders Affialites , Backers ……..BURN IN HELL AND DIE 10 thousand deaths!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Susan says

      Jen, You got to go outside? We never got to gooutside in a fenced area, ever! I hear your pain and I am in the same damn boat. Never stoned, never did drugs and only drank wine on a cruise with my parents permission.
      I did not know Medicaid paid for these services??? What a scam.
      I have had so many health issues from Straight, including all you mentioned.
      I do think we all need to come together, as adults, and legally put an end to these places.
      Yes, there is a drug war (fueled by none other than the government itself!!!), but institutionalization and abuse of our children, as a society, is NOT the answer.
      Remember NOT to vote for Mitt Romney (pass the word) as one of his main supporters is Mel Sembler (a higher up in Straight’s cult than Miller Newton). We do not need people in charge who cohort to abuse children in the name of money.

      ~Susan

    • Susan the one who sued and began closure of Straight says

      I am wondering if we can sue on another note: theft of inheritance. When our parents do pass, if they pass after us (which would be a different suit then for speeding up our early demise!), we could always say that X amount of dollars that could have been left for us and DRAWN INTEREST ;) went to abuse and torture of us as children. Hey I will try anything once, especially if true! Many parents from out of town spent $10,000 or more dollars per MONTH. Where is Derek Hall when you need him? :D

  19. Celeste says

    Wow! I guess I’m concidered one of the lucky ones because my parents yanked me out of there after just a few month. They said Straight was trying to brain wash them as well. I feel sorry for the people that can turn a blind eye to the abuse that was happening around them. I understand, Sonia, that Straight planted the recovery seed 4 u. But there are so many other treatment centers that do the same without any form of abuse. I know this because I’ve been to many of them. It’s really nieve and irresponsible of you to speak so highly of a place that should be brought to justice just because it didn’t happen to you. I went to a differnt rehab just 2 weeks after Straight and my recovery seed was planted there. No children were abused in any kind of way and the sucess rate was much higher without any damaging effects to those that just weren’t ready.

      • Susan T says

        ……Not to mention the seizures I am now having, which can be linked back to Straight. I have a friend that works as an ambassador to The UN for Children’s Rights and I also have connections with the Dept of Justice. I intend on finding out what we can do 3 decades later to get remedy. I know I sued and I won, but there has to be other measures for those who did not sue and even for those of us who did.

  20. terri says

    My name is Terri. I was forced and tricked into straight. I smoked pot one time in highschool and hated it. My parents assumed I was on drugs as I was a lttle rebellious. I was screamed at in my face that I was a liar. After a few months of that I lied and told them what they wanted to hear so I would stop getting yelled at. I have never even heard of some of the things I said I did, I listened to others and said I did it too.I turned 18 and left but not the same person. I was brainwashed. I really believed I was a druggie. I have terrible memories from that experience, I pushed it away but after reading these posts my nightmare s have returned. I’m crying and can’t write anymore

    • Susan, who began the closing of Straight says

      Face your fears. Face the nightmares. It is the only way to get them to go away. Crying is okay.<3 They will go away. Your facing them determines how fast they do.

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