June is PTSD Awareness Month

“We don't heal in isolation, but in community.”
― S. Kelley Harrell

June is National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month, which is intended to raise public awareness about issues related to PTSD, reduce the stigma associated with PTSD, and help ensure that those suffering from the invisible wounds of trauma receive proper treatment. Read more
PTSD Statistics

  • About 6 of every 10 men (or 60%) and 5 of every 10 women (or 50%) experience at least one trauma in their lives. 
  • Women are more likely to experience sexual abuse and are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD. Men are more likely to experience accidents, physical assault, combat, disaster, or to witness death or injury.
  • 1 IN 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime.
  • PTSD affects 3.5% of adults every year.
  • Latinx, Black, and Indigenous people experience disproportionately higher rates of PTSD.
Get Over It?
The Surprisingly Pervasive Effects of Childhood Trauma on Adult Mental and Physical Health

by Lisa Spears

Many practitioners of all varieties are beginning to agree on one thing: there is a very strong link between adverse childhood experiences and adult health problems, both 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. Researchers 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. (continued)

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Havening: Healing in your hands

When an event or experience is perceived as traumatic or very stressful, it becomes immutably encoded, often with life-altering consequences. However, recent research from the field of neuroscience has shown us how it’s possible to modify this encoding. The Havening Techniques are methods which are designed to change the brain to de-traumatize the memory and permanently remove its negative effects from both our psyche and body.”

~ Ronald A. Ruden, M.D., Ph.D.

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What is Waking Up?
By Bill Boyles

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 toward the program and causes many survivors to not 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 patterns are not sufficient once a survivor joins the survivor community and is exposed to frank discussions of the practices and circumstances within the program. Hearing someone else describe the program in realistic and honest terms can provide a new paradigm with which to view the experience - a paradigm which can prove hard to deny. This seed of doubt can grow and blossom in the mind into the realization that one was abused.

This starts the “waking up” process. Survivors often begin to mentally review their memories of the program, examining each scenario with their newfound clarity. They begin to question long-held assumptions. This can be an extremely painful process. Some survivors may struggle with mental and emotional well-being during this time and may be prone to outbursts and become disruptive, or they may become withdrawn and depressed as they begin to cope with the reality of their trauma.

While not every survivor has this experience, since some either remain aware of the abuse during their program stay or come to this same clarity very soon after leaving, waking up is an extremely common occurrence among survivors, and it may not occur for years or even decades after leaving the program. Sometimes, the longer one has been out of the program, the more intense waking up can be. Because this situation, and the resultant emotional turmoil, may be completely uncontrollable for a survivor, it’s important to be understanding, compassionate, and empathetic with those who are waking up.

Intrusion: Intrusive thoughts such as repeated, involuntary memories; distressing dreams; or flashbacks of the traumatic event. Flashbacks may be so vivid that people feel they are re-living the traumatic experience or seeing it before their eyes.
Avoidance: Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event may include avoiding people, places, activities, objects and situations that may trigger distressing memories. People may try to avoid remembering or thinking about the traumatic event. They may resist talking about what happened or how they feel about it.

Alterations in cognition and mood: Inability to remember important aspects of the traumatic event, negative thoughts and feelings leading to ongoing and distorted beliefs about oneself or others (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted”); distorted thoughts about the cause or consequences of the event leading to wrongly blaming self or other; ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame; much less interest in activities previously enjoyed; feeling detached or estranged from others; or being unable to experience positive emotions (a void of happiness or satisfaction).
Alterations in arousal and reactivity: Arousal and reactive symptoms may include being irritable and having angry outbursts; behaving recklessly or in a self-destructive way; being overly watchful of one's surroundings in a suspecting way; being easily startled; or having problems concentrating or sleeping.
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Jessica is part of the Media Relations team and is a strong advocate for survivors in both her writing and her superb investigation skills. Jessica first found her new family within the Breaking Code Silence community in October 2020, and she is passionate about standing up to the abusive practices of the "Troubled Teen" industry and holding perpetrators accountable. She is a survivor of Midwest Academy of Youth and Family Services, Howe Military Academy, Lava Heights Academy, Second Nature Cascades, and Hyde Schools. Outside of her continued efforts fighting the TTI with Breaking Code Silence, Jessica is a student majoring in social work, and she is currently renovating a school bus into a storefront for her own small crystal business.
Will became a member of our Investigation and Media teams in April, though he has been around the community for a while, so you may have noticed him. He attended an IFB program known as Thanks to Calvary from 1999-2002, and since then he has been very outspoken about his trauma in his personal life, which led him to the BCS movement. He was drawn to the public fight against the TTI to represent the survivors of IFB programs and become a voice against the tactics of religious brainwashing. Will is passionate about helping fellow survivors in their real life struggles. He is an abstract painter and avid reader of philosophy, and he has an unhealthy addiction to tacos and sparkling water.
Jenny is the Interim Administrative Director as well as a survivor, mother, entrepreneur, and activist from Atlanta who now calls Southern California home. After spending 2 1/2 years at two TTI programs in Georgia (Inner Harbour and Hidden Lake Academy) from 2000-2002, Jenny attended college and then served as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). She immediately connected with CASA's mission of advocating for child victims of abuse and neglect, and she spent most of the next decade working with CASA and other nonprofits. After switching paths to run her own dog training business and raise her amazing daughter, Jenny is thrilled to have the opportunity to put her nonprofit background and MBA skills to good use in building and guiding Breaking Code Silence to be as resilient, sustainable, and effective as possible in taking down the TTI and ending institutional child abuse.
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Grove School Suicide
by: Josh Scarpuzzi

Coronavirus outbreak, runaway students, teachers posing nude! The Grove school is in the news again, this time another tragic suicide by a young girl. Her friend spoke out on social media saying she was “one of the nicest people I have ever gotten to know.” Joshua Scarpuzzi reports on this heartbreaking story, reaching out to the Grove school for comment.


BCS Stands with CV Safe
by: Josh Scarpuzzi


Chula Vista safe is fighting tirelessly to halt development of a new Acadia facility in Texas. Local residents are concerned and so is BCS! Learn about steps you can take to help put a halt to the new facility being built.


For more news and weekly updates, check out the Breaking Code Silence HUB - your source for everything #BreakingCodeSilence, where survivors and allies can go to find information about advocacy, legislation, research, survivor articles, dissertation digests, and more on the troubled teen industry.

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 Zoom
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.

What a month! Our incredible volunteers are working hard and making progress on numerous projects and programs. 


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 Administrative Team has created an onboarding guide, internal communications guide, code of conduct, and several other policies to guide daily operations and the culture of the organization.


Our skillful Information Security Team has been updating our website with new and previously developed content, helping our social media volunteers with strategy, and digitizing old program footage.


The Mission Control Team remains dedicated to sharing weekly updates of progress by all teams, as well as making sure those updates are shared with our community of survivors, advocates, and supporters.


Our Legislation Team has made significant strides in building out our Federal coalition for the introduction of our upcoming bill. Our partnerships will be announced publicly soon!


The Media Relations Team aired the “We are BCS” live event at the beginning of May (YouTube link), announcing our official status as a nonprofit organization. The team made a new partnership with Chula Vista Safe to stop a new Acadia facility from being built. 


The Breaking News and Awareness Teams have published multiple breaking news articles, available on the Breaking Code Silence HUB. They also sent a guest speaker to the "I Don't Get It" podcast.


Your friendly Breaking Code Silence Facebook Group Moderation Team has been implementing new rules and policies to shift our community space toward a more welcoming and supportive group culture. As tough topics and difficult situations arise in the group, the team has been meeting to discuss the best uniform courses of action - as these finalize, the group  will release a document so that our mods, volunteers, and our general community members are all able to get on the same page, and know exactly what mod actions they can expect in a given situation.


After a team meeting in early May, the Program Investigation team has been working on a complete timeline of the Troubled Teen Industry, as well as a complete database of every RTC/BOARDING SCHOOL/SECULAR PROGRAM/FAITH BASED PROGRAMS/ETC. It will be one of the largest and most detailed databases available.


The Reporting Team has been working with the Enthusiastic Sobriety Abuse Alliance to assist in ethics reporting for survivors waiting to come forward, as well as continuing with the large group Montana ethics complaint.


The Social Media Team has been sharing resources throughout May in honor of Mental Health Awareness month. They’ve been developing strategies to best use our platforms to grow awareness and provide resources for survivors and families.  


The Thought Reform Thursdays Facebook page, produced by volunteer Lisa Spears, has been the place for lively discussion topics and weekly, informative articles. May 13th’s topic for TRT was how to help a loved one who is trapped in a cult or pro-program. We recommend that all survivors give it a read.


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!

In service with you,
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