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Breaking Code Silence Blog is your one stop for everything #BreakingCodeSilence, where survivors and allies can go to find information about advocacy,  awareness, legislation, research, survivor articles, dissertation digests, and information on the troubled teen industry.

The month of June is so much more than the start of summer – June is Pride Month!

Pride Month is a month-long celebration of the LBGTQIA+ community and the many friends, family, and allies who stand with them. This month is a time to stand proud and celebrate the self awareness, diversity, dignity, and history of the community. LBGT History month was founded by a high-school history teacher named Rodney Wilson in Missouri, USA and it was first celebrated in 1994. The council chose to use the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots, which took place in Manhattan, New York. The demonstration of the Stonewall riots is one of the founding moments that led the LBGT community on a path of inclusion and acceptance. Now the community celebrates this history during the month of June by hosting large events from parades, concerts, charities, and more all while promoting awareness and providing a safe space for younger generations. One of the ongoing battles our LBGTQIA+ youth face today is being sent to the ‘Troubled Teen Industry.’ These facilities are primarily focused on ‘behavioral modification’ types of therapeutic treatments for ‘troubled teens' ranging from ages 9-17. LBGTQIA+ youth may be sent away for simply identifying as such and not meeting their parent/guardians ideal family dynamic. This creates a back door in places were conversion therapy has been banned or restricted. Conversion therapy has been around for centuries but it has taken hold as religious freedom laws have often allowed religious based facilities to operate completely unchecked and unregulated by any government body. Currently only 20 ...

Get Over It? The Surprisingly Pervasive Effects of Childhood Trauma on Adult Mental and Physical Health

Many practitioners of various kinds are beginning to agree on one thing: there is a very strong link between adverse childhood experiences and adult health problems, mental and physical.  Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have a tremendous impact on adult victimization, career and educational opportunities, mental illness, addiction, and physical disease, including cancer. From 1995 to 1997, a series of studies were conducted at Kaiser Permanente known as the ACE study.  Over 17,000 individuals were studied, and underwent physical examinations, mental health evaluations, and interviews regarding their childhood experiences.  It was found that ACEs were strongly linked to most of the leading causes of death in adults. They also found that certain groups, such as women, racial minorities, sexual and gender minorities, and those with neurodivergence or disability were more likely to have ACEs. What is an Adverse Childhood Experience?  The ACEs are divided into 10 categories. If you experienced any of these 10 categories, give yourself a point. 0-10 Before the age of 18, did you experience: 1.     Physical abuse 2.     Emotional or mental abuse 3.     Sexual abuse Before the age of 18, were you: 4.     Emotionally neglected 5.     Physically or medically neglected Before the age of 18, did someone in your family: 6.     Attempt suicide 7.     Go to prison 8.     Get divorced 9.     Experience battering 10.  Have a substance abuse problem These are by no means a comprehensive picture of ...

June 1, 2021|Categories: Awareness|Tags: , , , , , , |

What is “Waking Up”?

A common experience among the survivor community is the phenomenon of “waking up.” Waking up is the realization, often sudden, that the treatment one received within a program was wrong, immoral, and even abusive. It can be a disorientating, uncomfortable, and emotional process both for the survivor and for their loved ones, as they quickly shift from a positive or neutral view of the program to a negative one and begin to acknowledge and cope with the trauma they experienced. Abusive programs work hard to get their subjects to believe the abuse is normal or justified, often through a regime of “seminars” and “therapy” that is aimed at destroying the self-worth and independence of survivors. Students are bombarded with messaging that they are unloved and unlovable, that they deserve their abuse or that traumatic experiences were their fault, and that the program is saving their life so they should be grateful to their abusers. Attack therapy, LGAT (large group awareness training) seminars, cultish love-bombing and jargon, and other fringe practices are presented as normal and mainstream, and survivors often have no way of knowing the truth. This can engender a sense of trust and gratitude towards the program and causes many survivors to realize they are being abused even as the abuse is occurring. Often, some piece of the psyche understands the true situation, however. A thought-stopping pattern arises, where doubts about the program are subconsciously suppressed to avoid the cognitive dissonance inherent in the situation. Sometimes, these thought-stopping ...

June 1, 2021|Categories: Awareness|Tags: , , |

Breaking Code Silence statement in support of Chula Vista Safe

Breaking Code Silence is working tirelessly to end institutionalized child abuse in residential care facilities. It’s at the very core of our mission, and it’s why we stand beside Chula Vista Safe in demanding an end to the development of a new Acadia facility in the Eastlake/Rolling Hills Ranch Communities. Facilities within the United States that promote themselves as “residential therapeutic care facilities” have had a long stained history of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect of the vulnerable children under their care. Often these facilities are unregulated, under regulated, or under enforced, providing opportunities for abuses to occur that often go unseen. Acadia currently operates over 580 facilities within the U.S., with over 18,000 available beds in 40 states. Worldwide, they bring in $3 billion annually. They recently settled a court case for $17 million over an alleged billing scheme, the largest settlement in West Virginia history. Between 2014 and 2018, Acadias Oasis facility near Phoenix had been investigated numerous times for allegations of abuse and neglect within that one singular facility. These reports also included forged documents, sexual abuse, failure to provide safe houseing for patients, runaways, suicide attempts, and understaffing. Acadia facilities can not only harm those within their walls, but pose a threat to the communities they are in and the children they are meant to help. We stand with the concerned residents who make up the Chula Vista Safe community and strongly oppose the development of this Acadia facility. Get involved and make your ...

Student Dies by Suicide at the Grove School, a Boarding School for “Struggling Adolescents”

SUNDAY, MAY 23rd - This past week, a young girl took her own life while under the care of the Grove School, a therapeutic boarding school in Madison, CT. Full details have yet to be released; however, a current student at the school confirmed the incident on social media. “We are still trying to process it,” the classmate said. “She was a friend and one of the nicest people I have ever gotten to know.” This is the second suicide in the last few years, the first resulting in a lawsuit recently filed against Grove School. The suit brought action against the school for wrongful death as a result of their alleged negligence and poorly trained/unqualified staff. The Grove School has made headlines in the past for various lawsuits, a coronavirus outbreak, and two students who went missing. The most recent lawsuit involved a teacher who was fired for posing semi-nude to support President Donald Trump. The Grove School was also hit with a lawsuit after a student was allegedly sexually assaulted. In another suit, a student claimed that the Grove School used improper restraint procedures. According to the lawsuit, the child had threatened to kill himself while under the school’s care. Andrew Pullak, one of the three defendants named in the suit, is still listed on the Grove School’s website as an active staff member and therapist. The student’s attorney said Pullak punched the young man in the eye while restraining him. As many facilities within the “Troubled ...

Religious exemption – Or excuse for abuse?

Circle of Hope may be finally closed, but for many of the victims, the fight is not over.  Stephanie and Boyd Householder, former long-time directors of a “troubled teen industry” program called Circle of Hope, were arrested and formally charged with over 100 felony counts of child sexual abuse, child physical abuse, and child neglect. Jerry Pyle, Pastor of the Bible Baptist Church of Vernon County, has now issued a statement to his congregation in support of the Householders, calling the charges “false, demonic accusations,” and asking for spiritual and financial support for the couple. Circle of Hope officially shut down in August 2020, when investigators removed all children from their care.  Charges were filed in March of 2021. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt brought 102 charges against the Householders, including dozens of sexual abuse charges.  Schmitt has also raised concerns regarding their attorney, who was indicted in 2019, during which he was accused of bribing a witness to commit perjury in a murder case. Victims have alleged sexual assault, the use of stress positions, including being forced to hold a pushup position, violent restraints and physical assaults, including having their heads slammed into walls, and other humiliating punishments.  Those alleging sexual abuse state that assaults happened regularly. Charges were first filed after the couple’s daughter, Amanda, published allegations on social media site TikTok.  The facility had previously been investigated many times before.  Pastor Jerry Pyle, however, has stated that these charges are “false, demonic accusations.”   Pyle is the ...

Sequel – The Unlucky 13

Another Sequel Youth and Family Services facility has closed, marking the 13 closures for this for-profit troubled teen industry giant. Northern Illinois Academy is the latest closure since 2019. There has been a long history of reports of abuse for Sequel Youth and Family Services, most notably a case out of Michigan, where Cornelius Fredriks was restrained by 6 adult male staff, piling on top of the 16-year-old, ultimately resulting in his death. The restraint was retaliation for throwing a sandwich. Cornelious laid lifeless in that cafeteria for 15 minutes before the school nurse eventually called 911. Quite a number of Sequel facilities have had horrific allegations of abuse over the years.  Last year, survivors told NBC news that they were subjected to physical abuse and medical neglect, including a 14-year-old boy who had his head slammed into a wall. The child was then refused medical care.  Similar stories came out of Sequel facilities in Alabama in the NBC investigation, where survivors described being told to kill themselves or being taunted about sensitive subjects, such as one child’s deceased father.  Sequel also uses solitary confinement and pharmacological manipulation. In 2019, a former staff member at a Sequel facility in Illinois was sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting a child in the facility. Despite its many allegations of physical and sexual abuse, Sequel continues to secure government funds and grants, as well as private funding, and is currently worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Many children are ...

Missouri Law Passes – A Step Forward

TUESDAY, MAY 11TH - The Missouri State Senate has passed a state bill today (23-9), which provides government oversight for the state's currently unregulated boarding schools. Many of these schools have recently come under fire for reports of child abuse, rape, neglect, and other crimes. Owners of one school have been charged with over 100 felony crimes this past week.(1) This historic bill is the first in Missouri to target facilities within the ‘Troubled Teen Industry,’ a multi-billion dollar, nationwide industry, which profits off of vulnerable youth. Included under the umbrella of this industry is a variety of facilities, including: boot camps, behavioral modification facilities, conversion therapy programs, theraputic boarding schools, wilderness therapy programs, and rehabilitation programs. These facilities operate with little to no government oversight, with many slipping by under religious exemptions from the state. The approved bill requires all faith-based facilities to register with the state, and to conduct federal criminal background checks on all staff and volunteers. The bill also includes a requirement that facilities adhere to all state fire, safety, and health regulations. The next steps for the bill are House approval, which is expected, then the Governor’s signature. Programs within the ‘Troubled Teen Industry’ often use an assortment of seminars, behavior modification tactics, and forms of ‘therapy’ which are rooted in abusive cults, such as the notorious Synanon cult. These types of ‘attack therapy’ often leave the survivors of institutional child abuse with a myriad of long-term physical and psychological symptoms, such as nightmares, ...

HB 557 #exposingcircleofhope #exposingagape #churchtoo

On Wednesday, April 15th, the state of Missouri is holding a hearing on HB 557. This legislation helps stop and prevent child abuse in important ways including: Registering programs and removing exemptions for boarding schools and programs; Ensuring state authorities know of children being placed in the state of Missouri; Ensuring state authorities have access to investigate and check on their welfare; Providing state authorities with the ability to help children via CPS and emergency services; Making a three strikes/out rule for abusive programs; Deterring abusive programs from relocating to Missouri; Requiring background checks for all employees and volunteers; Requiring programs to comply with provisions protecting the health and safety of residents; Ensuring that state authorities can immediately investigate abuse allegations and intervene appropriately. It's important to note that many independent fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) affiliated "boarding schools" such as Circle of Hope, Agape, Master's Ranch, etc., claim that food deprivation, isolation, restraints and paddling are part of their religious beliefs. These bills outline how the Department of Social Services can petition the court to investigate child abuse. Shoutout to TROUBLED podcast, #exposingcircleofhope, #exposingagape, #sparetherod, and all the survivor communities who made this hearing happen. 

Utah SB127 and RISE Justice Labs

Survivors Caroline Lorson, Paris Hilton, Chelsea Maldonado, and Jeff Netta Legislative Team Chelsea Maldonado and Caroline Lorson Recently Breaking Code Silence took part in two important initiatives. Utah SB127: SB127 imposes the first meaningful regulations on troubled teen industry programs in the U.S. in 15 years. This legislation requires programs to allow multiple unannounced site visits, prohibits the use of pain, humiliation and silence as punishment, requires programs allow contact between parents and children, and takes steps towards eliminating chemical and mechanical restraints. Rise Justice Labs:  Breaking Code Silence just completed Rise Justice Labs 12-week legislative accelerator, in which we learned about the processes and techniques needed to pass our first bill. Rise not only taught us what we needed for Utah, and helped us navigate that process, but also has given us the tools and backing to begin working on federal legislation. We're so grateful to this team for everything we've learned and hope to continue this valuable partnership moving forward.

April 13, 2021|Categories: Legislation|Tags: , , , , |
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