At the age of 15, I was sent to Second Nature Blue Ridge for depression, anxiety, and multiple other adopted-related issues. After being hospitalized in late 2014, my parents continued to search for any ounce of hope to ensure a healthy outcome. Soon after being hospitalized, a psychiatrist recommended my parents communicate with an education consultant who could further the discovery for treatment.

Within a day, I was being taken to Second Nature Blue Ridge. Soon after arriving, I realized something was not right. I was surprised to learn there was no communication with the outside world. In addition, we were required to hike roughly 9-11 miles a day, refused proper nutrition & medical attention, couldn’t speak without a staff member present, were escorted to the bathroom (due to safety watch), and were required to bow-drill if we wanted to eat warm food. If we couldn’t bust an ember, hard/cold rice & dehydrated beans were our meals.

After walking out of a standing group, I found myself tackled by 3 grown men. One man laid on my calves and held my ankles down, one man put his knee into my back, and the last man had both hands around the back of my neck pushing my face into the dirt. I started to scream and cry as I couldn’t breathe. I continued to yell “I’m suffocating” to the best of my ability, but it seemed they only pinned me down harder. As I gasped for air, I aspirated a mouth full of dirt. I started to choke & throw up. It took vomit running down the side of my face, eyes almost swollen shut, and my arms giving up resistance from pushing the ground for them to realize I had tapped out long ago.

After the neglect and the environment became too much, I ran from the program with permanent intent. When found, proper medical attention was not an urgency to them. I was ignored the next day by the staff and asked to stay quiet. I was isolated. I then was required to bow drill the majority of the next day if I wanted to avoid further punishment. That evening the staff insisted on taking a picture to send to my parents. She took off the bloody bandage from my wrist, poured water from her bottle onto it, and redressed it with a bright white bandage. She then grabbed a notepad/pen, sat down next to me, leaned over, and asked me to smile while he took the picture. I was completely broken.

Moving forward the next few weeks, my sleeping bag was wrapped inside a tarp at night, and our shoes were taken. I was pinned down by two men laying on each side of me. Any sound of movement would wake them. After the wilderness program, I was sent to a therapeutic boarding school. Wilderness was only the start to the brainwashing, manipulative, and saddening reality of the TTI. My experience lasted roughly 15 months in the TTI.  I, in some way shape or form, have thought about it every day since.