July is Disability Pride Month
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
As a way to celebrate "Disability Pride Month", Breaking Code Silence wants to dedicate our July 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.
Disability and the TTI
by Dr. Emmanuel Monneron
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. (continued)
Breaking Code Silence’s Document Library
The Information Security Team have been working tirelessly to provide an absolutely incredible resource for our community and anyone in the general public. With the release of Breaking Code Silence’s Document Library, more than 7,500 documents concerning more than 650 youth facilities have been made available to the world. The database will continue to grow as more court documents, articles, program reports, etc. are submitted to the team.
To explore the database and for some examples of what you might find, click below and follow this simple guide:
Are you stressed out, not feeling like yourself or worried about a family member? iChill can help by teaching you the Community Resiliency Model, a set of self-help skills. You will learn simple info about how stress affects the mind and body. iChill is also available in Spanish.
Advocacy on Social Media 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.
By Sydney Schuck
| Natalie Wills is an active member of our Legislation team and leads our new Indigenous People initiative, where she is currently developing a plan to support indigenous boarding school survivors and connect with current advocates against “Indian Boarding School” abuse. A native of California's Bay Area, Natalie ran away from home after experiencing domestic and sexual abuse as a teenager. When she finally agreed to meet her family at a therapist’s office, she was transported to Second Nature Uintas. Afterward, she was sent to Island View and then Family Life Center for a total of two years at programs from 2007-2009. The acoustic guitar she received while away from home became her outlet, and she still writes and plays music today (check out her YouTube channel under “Nefeil Productions). After leaving her final program and then attending college, Natalie went on to volunteer internationally before settling back in the Bay Area and working in marketing and software development. She now stays plenty busy with caring for her two wonderful little girls, volunteering with BCS, and managing her eCommerce business (Eternal Life North). Starting later this summer, Natalie is excited to launch a supportive partnership of Eternal Life North with BCS and explore new ways to raise funds for this important work. |
| Krystle Augustine has a variety of talents and copious amounts of knowledge from being a self-admitted “overly curious bookworm.” She has used these talents and knowledge in contributing to a variety of projects, including legislation strategy, news articles, editing assistance, and local issues in her home state of Utah. After growing up in Utah, Krystle spent four years at Cross Creek Manor, a WWASP program that was later shut down amidst extensive public reports of abuse, neglect, fraud, and more throughout the WWASP network. Krystle met her husband Dave soon after leaving Cross Creek, and the two of them now live in the Salt Lake City area along with their 16-year-old son and a herd of sweet but feisty cats. |
| Robert Cook aka Bobby aka Rob is a valued member of our Program Investigation team who recently joined BCS after being involved in the movement through leading his program's individual survivor group for many years. Rob was sent to Hidden Lake Academy from February 2002 (Valentine's Day, specifically) until May 2004, which at the time was one of the longest "full program" stays ever before being allowed to "officially" graduate. Rob is originally from Atlanta, GA, but now resides in Albuquerque, NM. He is married with three children, two boys and a girl, and he is a stay at home father and sometimes paranormal investigator. He is excited to work with BCS and looks forward to bringing accountability and exposure to this industry and seeing the day when youth are no longer abused at programs. |
| Breaking Code Silence is working with AmazonSmile. If you are shopping on your computer, use this link to have a portion of your purchases donated to Breaking Code Silence. If you are using your phone, we’ve included a handy guide for setting up the fundraiser.|
In the News
by: Molly Rose
In addition to June’s BBC article which many Breaking Code Silence volunteers contributed to, mentions of the TTI in the media have been increasing each month. As some of us might have been reminded with Britney Spears’s recent testimony, there are far too many ways for children and adults alike to be unjustly stripped of our basic freedoms. I think many of us may have resonated a bit too well with Britney’s fear of not being believed.
We know our stories are often difficult to imagine or understand for those who haven’t lived them. It’s the reason why many of us kept silent for years. But with people speaking out via social channels, to their friends and family, and to the media - we are witnessing a seismic shift in the public’s awareness of the corrupt, barely regulated, and inherently abusive “troubled teen industry.”
If you are not a survivor yourself, but have chosen to believe survivors and advocate to prevent more of these stories - our movement needs you and we thank you. Every single person reading and sharing the articles, educating themselves, and choosing to believe survivors is responsible for the incredible momentum of this movement.
Just this past month, two well-known programs have closed their doors for good. John Dewey Academy and Makana Leadership Academy (formerly known as Cedar Ridge Academy). While many factors were involved in the closure of Makana, the program’s executive director placed the blame squarely on Cedar Ridge survivors speaking out.
If you would like help shedding light on conditions in your program, or know of a place that should be exposed, please reach out to Breaking Code Silence. Our Advocacy and Activism Team is prepared to help.
More TTI in the Media:
'Chaotic' and 'unsafe:' Problems at Colorado Springs youth services center resurface, employees say - Gazette
Former students of Lakeland girls school come forward to describe conditions at facility where girl died - Fox 13 News
Code of Silence: Survivors allege teen rehab program refused to report rapes - Yes Weekly
“I Was Forced To Sculpt My Rape”: What Is Happening Inside The Troubled Teen Industry? - Refinery29
Can the $300 million ‘troubled teen’ therapy sector be reformed by legislation and public pressure? - Deseret
Colorado shuts down youth center in Watkins after allegations of drugs, fights and improper restraints of kids - Colorado Sun
Survivors from all over look forward to this monthly time together. We laugh, sometimes cry, share stories, and learn from one another. We support each other through providing space, sharing what helps, and providing a well-timed joke to keep the energy balanced. All survivors are welcome!
| JOIN LEGISLATION|
Breaking Code Silence is looking for volunteers! No experience necessary, we will train you and get you ready to engage politicians and the public on the need for our legislation and ways they can support it. Follow the link below to sign up.
| VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES|
Breaking Code Silence is now bringing on survivors and allies to join us in the fight to help reform the "troubled teen industry." We need all skill sets, knowledge sets, talents, and interests to take on this task. Sign up today, and we will be in touch soon to connect you with the best team that fits your skills and preferences.
| Join our LIVE Board Meetings! Sign-up below|
What a month! Our incredible volunteers are working hard and making progress on numerous projects and programs.
Our Awareness Pillar and Media Relations Team have done an incredible job working with journalist Kelly-Leigh Cooper and supporting other survivors in sharing their stories. We are so grateful to Ms. Cooper and the BBC for shining a light on a dark industry and providing survivors a central platform to speak their truth and be heard on a global level.
Our Breaking News Team covered topics related to PTSD and queer/trans issues throughout the month of June. We supported a campaign to ban conversion therapy in the UK. Meanwhile, Canadian lawmakers passed a bill this month outlawing LGBT conversion therapy. In America, only 20 states have legislation outlawing conversion therapy. Even then, as many TTI survivors have witnessed, and as an undercover phone call to a facility revealed, there are loopholes. Even without the “conversion” label, programs at times specifically target LGBTQIA+ youth for harassment and abuse. Read more about the dangers and prevalence of conversion therapy here.
Our Social Media team has kept our community informed of new developments, articles, and legislation concerning the TTI. Earlier this month, Oregon introduced two bills aimed at regulating the industry. The team helped lead a campaign inviting our community to send letters of support to Senators and Representatives. We were elated to hear that with the passage of SB 710 and SB 749, Oregon is the first state to regulate transport companies and “education consultants.” They have also banned prone and supine restraint in residential and wilderness programs.
Visit Thought Reform Thursdays to follow along with our recent series on Freedom of Movement and current series on the cult tactic of induced dependency.
The Information Distribution Team has been compiling and sharing team updates and progress with volunteers each week. They also brought on new volunteers to help build our monthly newsletter! These State of Breaking Code Silence update reports are also available on our website, and they are updated monthly!
There needs to be federal regulation of the troubled teen industry and our Legislative Team is up to the task. They have been holding countless meetings with organizations that share our passions and values - and so far we have received unanimous support for our Federal Bill, as well as invaluable advice from allies who have the experience of creating change from the ground up.
Our Reporting Team is calling all Montana Survivors: Report abuse, maltreatment, or witnessing this or other unethical behavior in a program. Montana is investigating now!
As Breaking Code Silence continues to grow, our Program Investigation Team has made themselves available to find answers for people who’ve reached out needing information on current programs. Meanwhile, they are completing an exhaustive and detailed chronological TTI history, which we will be proudly sharing across Breaking Code Silence’s platforms once complete.
Our Administrative & Strategic Planning Division has been hard at work behind the scenes in continuing to build the organizational infrastructure, expand capacity, onboard new volunteers, and connect with outside experts and advocates in this area. The team finished setting up donation processing capabilities on our website, and Breaking Code Silence was officially accepted into the Facebook Donations program so people can donate to us through Facebook and do fundraisers for their birthdays! Breaking Code Silence is an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so all donations are tax deductible. In addition to more traditional fundraising avenues, the team is also working on a new partnership with a Breaking Code Silence volunteer who is a talented artist and creator who wants to start a fundraising partnership with her jewelry and eCommerce business.
We now have comprehensive organizational insurance, due in major part to the incredible expertise of our Safety Policy team. They have also been working to build our Conflict Resolution policies that are being implemented across the organization.
We welcome new volunteers! Please join us and click this link to sign up. So far, we have onboarded over 100 volunteers, with several more scheduled for interviews in the next week. We are intentionally creating a healthy community that honors and holds space for all survivors.
We are becoming a force to be reckoned with. We are here to make this world a safer and more inclusive place for all, and we could not do it without this amazing community of survivors and advocates.
Together, WE are Breaking Code Silence!