It is with extreme sadness that I have learned that a young woman in Florida is no more.
Her entire life has been a struggle. If life was supposed to be fair her story should have had a happy ending but real life doesn’t promise a Hollywood ending. Her only comfort was that she near her end was surrounded by people who loved her.Born into this life with a brain injury she faced challenged from the very start. Advised by so-called professionals who claimed to have found perfect residential programs which could improve her life, she was sent to Cross Creek programs in La Verkin, Utah. When the amateurs who ran this asylum couldn’t handle her they sent her to High Impact – a program so abusive that the government in Mexico closed it down as soon they found out it existed.
Her story is the story of an approach to treatment which could only exist because there were very poor sources for those who wanted to turn every rock on the treatment program they would send their child to. Conmen knew that. Just to make sure they found isolated small cities where they could be the large employers and let everyone know that a closure of their business could impact the economy of the entire community severely. So despite how abusive the program was and regardless of how involved workers became in the abuse none dared to blow the whistle out of fear that they not only endangered their own job but also the job of their neighbors, friends and family living in the same town.I doubt that her parents visited Cross Creek wandering freely around the campus speaking to staff and their daughter unmonitored just after she was enrolled in the treatment center. I doubt that they ever visited her in the boot camp in Mexico. If they weren’t allowed to see every place their daughter went to, how could they protect her adopted daughter?
That is the difference between the situation in the late 1990’s and early years after year 2000 and now. Today we have the internet. Every residential program today is held accountable by their former patients the very day the residents can leave the treatment program and testify online. This possibility alone has saved lives. It has closed programs – entire business corporations employing thousands of people have been closed down.
WWASP is gone. CEDU is gone. Aspen Education Group is crippled thanks to brave former patients who spoke about their experiences. Unimaginable destinies detailing abuse on a level were even the show trials in the eastern part of Europe cleansing the political environment of all opposition to communism seemed conducted on a dilettante level compared to the methods used in programs under the WWASP umbrella.
Brainwashing would actually be a nice word for the actions which took place at Cross Creek programs and High Impact. Criminal prosecution has been impossible because people voting for sheriffs and judges still are thankful for the jobs they had before the truth came out. Numerous lawsuits have been killed in courts on state level. If the former patients ever should be given some kind of peace and end only a federal investigation could do the job.
There are many adults living with the same emotional scars as she had to live with because she went to Cross Creek. There are also a lot of adult who are so blessed with a brain which protect them from remembering the most abusive experiences during their stay in these programs. Unfortunately she wasn’t so lucky. She remembered what she was exposed to. The burden combined with psychical issues which tormented her in the proved too much to overcome.
She did not struggle through life without impacting other people. Her testimony could prove to be a savior for teenagers in the next generations belonging to families seeking residential treatment. Now parents know that they have to demand access to their child from the very first day. They know that they have to visit every department the program have and listen to gossip in town. They know that they have to do the same for sub-contractors the treatment program use. They know that they have to be very careful sending their children abroad to countries where treatment programs are allowed to cut corners.
Every program from previous decades has their memorial site where former patients have opted out on life long before it was their time. Straight Inc. – the huge rehab program from the 1980’s and 1990’s have almost endless lists of former patients who have died in their 20s or 30s. The programs WWASP and Aspen Education Group established a decade later has lists of former patients dying young so they will unfortunately soon catch up. The emotional scars have proven too severe to live with and the programs have cleaned both college and retirement funds up so there are no money left for aftercare and treatment of the emotional scars. The result is often death.
Are there still programs around which could endanger future generations of teenagers? Yes. They have found safe haven in states like Missouri and Utah where they hide behind their religious status. Humanitarian organizations are watching them. Sometime they are able to stress a facility to close or move but it is a long and hard struggle. On improved legislation can protect children and the work is in progress. Hopefully we in the future would be able to put a stop to such programs.
For now we can only offer our prayers to her relatives and friends left behind and offer our promises that we will continue our work to wipe out programs function like Cross Creek and High Impact did. May she find peace where she is now.