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News2021-10-20T00:03:45-07:00

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April 2021 State of Breaking Code Silence

Breaking Code Silence has been busy! We have accomplished an incredible amount in just the last few weeks. The Activism Model & Training Team is at work creating an easily accessible training guide to bring a safe, effective, and appropriate strategic model of activism that empowers us to multiply our reach and create historic change. The Legislation Team has created regional teams and specific task forces, discussed federal legislative objectives, and scheduled meetings with new and established contacts. Internal and community Communication Teams have launched the weekly State of Breaking Code Silence website report and our monthly Breaking Code Silence Newsletter to share updates with all of our volunteers, the greater survivor community, and the general public. The Reporting Team has created a streamlined reporting process for survivors reporting ethical violations. The Program Investigation Team has continued with ongoing investigations into multiple programs accused of institutionalized child abuse.  This team has grown rapidly and has created specialized teams to look into specific programs. The Media Team has created a press guide to aid survivor volunteers with press engagement, began looking into unique opportunities for new publication forums, and has taken a carefully crafted approach to empowering survivors to share stories and bring about opportunities for awareness and partnership. The media team produced a community video that inspired and united survivors in supporting each other and creating change for future generations. The Administrative Team has created an onboarding guide, internal communications guide, code of conduct, and several other policies to ...

Disability and the TTI

By Dr. Emmanuel Monneron As a way to celebrate "Disability Pride Month", Breaking Code Silence wants to dedicate July’s Newsletter to all the people with disabilities and especially to the children currently held against their will in Wilderness Therapy programs, Therapeutic Boarding Schools and Residential Treatment Centers. Our thoughts also go to the Survivors of the Troubled Teen Industry who have suffered from physical and psychological abuse resulting in long-term disability. We see you and we stand with you. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) give this definition of the word "disability" on their website*: "A disability is any condition of the body or mind (impairment) that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities (activity limitation) and interact with the world around them (participation restrictions). Although “people with disabilities” sometimes refers to a single population, this is actually a diverse group of people with a wide range of needs. Two people with the same type of disability can be affected in very different ways. Some disabilities may be hidden or not easy to see." A shorter version of this definition could be "the way a condition impacts a person's daily life". And while it may not be too difficult to understand how a physical condition impacts what a person can or can't do, it's probably different when it comes to psychological conditions. Extreme sadness, intense anxiety, panic attacks, substance craving... These emotional states and feelings are very difficult to apprehend ...

Breaking Code Silence: Advocacy on Social Media

By Sydney Schuck Since the beginning of social media, there have been creators who have made it their mission to raise awareness and bring attention to social issues. With the rise of the popularity of #breakingcodesilence and #troubledteenindustry we can see the direct impacts on awareness and individuals sharing their stories. The hashtag ‘Breaking Code Silence’ has a collective 178.8 million views on tiktok, and 7.1k posts on Instagram. This hashtag is filled with many creators who have sought out to share their stories of time spent in the troubled teen industry. From wilderness therapy programs, therapeutic boarding schools, boot camps, conversion therapy and more, you can find hundreds of accounts sharing funny moments, to the hardest, saddest parts of the TTI. Social media has allowed survivors to connect with each other and even in some cases meet up with fellow program survivors. Within support groups and virtual support meetings organized through social media, survivors can share mutual feelings and find a community to connect, grow, and heal with. With over a dozen groups on Facebook, and even more accounts on Instagram dedicated to helping connect others, it is easier than ever for survivors to find each other and come together to support one another. One amazing resource has been the monthly TTI Zoom Support Group. Created and hosted by survivors, and for survivors only, this virtual get-together is held on the first Friday night of each month. Social media has also been a popular avenue for programs looking ...

Signs & Symptoms of PTSD

Post traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is an often misunderstood illness. Evolving from earlier conceptualizations such as ‘shell shock’ and ‘war neurosis,’ PTSD can occur in any gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, or culture (Crocq, M. A., Crocq, L. 2000). PTSD is in the category of Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (APA, 2013), the diagnostic system used by mental health professionals. The media portrays PTSD as an illness that primarily affects military veterans and sexual assault survivors (Purtle, J. et al., 2016). It also tends to show an incomplete picture of PTSD, highlighting violent flashbacks or emotional reactivity; popular media may commonly depict someone with PTSD hearing a loud noise while driving and then throwing themselves in a ditch to take cover, or yelling at their loved ones for no reason. While these descriptors may reflect aspects of PTSD for some, they are not fully representative of the diverse experiences of those who suffer from PTSD. To understand the signs and symptoms of PTSD, we first need to understand what PTSD is. According to psychiatry.com (APA, 2021): “Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury. ” In plain terms, PTSD is diagnosed in people who have witnessed, experienced, or heard ...

Massachusetts Bill Would Offer Protections for Youth in RTCs

Senate Bill 1270 is a request bill that was submitted by the parent of a survivor and introduced by Senator John Cronin of Massachusetts. This bill will grant any child placed in a Massachusetts mental health facility the right to appeal their placement through a hearing process. The two exceptions would be if the child were sentenced due to a criminal conviction, or if the child is admitted at Bridgewater State Hospital. The bill also breaks down the various iterations of "mental health facilities" that will be included in this legislation. This bill would provide children the basic human right to speak and be heard in advocating for their best interest. The bill could also bring attention to abusive situations, whether that be an abusive facility or a dangerous family situation. Considering the stark imbalance between the reasons children are often placed in these facilities and the acute discipline they often encounter once inside, this bill will provide recourse in pursuit of fairness and justice. Breaking Code Silence is reaching out to Senator Cronin for further collaboration, and we hope to be an active role in assisting in the passage of this important legislation. Read the Bill here

Conversion Therapy – The Longterm Effects

It’s Pride month in the United States, and while celebrations of diversity and inclusion are underway, many in the LGBTQIA+ community are struggling with a very dark and troubling past. For some community members, there is pain lurking below the surface, a pain that exists because of a practice widely known as conversion therapy. This form of torture is as much a threat to youth in America today as it has been for the last century. The ‘Troubled Teen Industry’ has been keeping this method of ‘therapy’ nestled tightly under its umbrella of programs, aimed at profiting off of some of our most vulnerable youth. In the year,1899, Albert von Schrenck-Notzing, a German psychiatrist, made the first public claim to have allegedly cured, a homosexual man of his sexual orientation. Shrenck-Notzing came to this conclusion, through a series of forced heterosexual encounters, electric shocks, and intense sessions of hypnosis. Conversion therapy was touted as a successful treatment over the course of the twentieth century, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Not only do these “treatments''  prove to be harmful and ineffective, there are numerous studies that show how such practices have created long term, negative psychological and physiological effects. In addition, many of these practices were carried out and tested on the BIPOC community before being predominantly used on the white, upper class in the early trials of the 1900’s. Conversion therapy has since been proven to be a pseudoscience, however legislation on this topic is still a state-by-state ...

How EMDR Changed My Life

Sweating, heavy breathing, uncontrollable weeping, darkness, yelling, sheer terror...it was like I was back there all over again, but reliving the scariest moment of my life was completely worth it in the end. In this post, I will share with you my experience with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy and why I highly recommend it, especially for fellow survivors of the troubled teen industry. While it can be a terrifying process to go through, the results can be absolutely life changing. Since you are reading this, I’m sure you are familiar with the troubled teen industry and the many dangers of their practices. However, you may not be familiar with the abusive seminars primarily practiced in the WWASP programs. These seminars lasted for several days. They restricted your food, allowed very little sleep, and made the children participate in humiliating, degrading, and psychologically torturous exercises in an effort to “break” the child so they could be built back up again. In the first seminar that I completed, I was tormented into admitting a sexual assault I had experienced. Later on, I was made to bang a towel wrapped in duct tape on the floor, screaming at my abuser while fellow program boys yelled in my face, “You’re a dirty whore! You’re a little slut! You deserved this! You were asking for this!” At one point one of them pushed a pillow against me simulating the pressure of my abuser while I continuously yelled at them, “I’m worthy! ...

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 ...

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