Sorry for the Intrusion – By Sara

My name is Sara. I was 15 years old when my mother woke me up around 3 am. It was February 1996. My mother was crying. She said I had to get up. There were 2 people in my room. They said I had a choice to do this the easy way or hard way and showed me handcuffs. I had no idea what was happening. In silence, I walked outside with two strangers. I didn’t get to say goodbye to my family. After asking several times “where are you taking me” I was given a brochure. The next thing I knew, I was on an airplane.

When I arrived at Hidden Lake Academy in Dahlonega GA, I was stripped searched against my will. After what seemed like forever I was told I would be in this “therapeutical” program for 18 months, maybe longer. Adjusting to this program was quite difficult. I couldn’t talk to my family for 2 months. When I earned the privilege the calls were strictly monitored. I cried and pleaded to come home. I begged. No one believed what they were doing to us there. No one.

Several months after my 16th birthday I tried to kill myself. They had taken everything from me from my toothbrush to a picture of my 6-year-old sister. I broke down and cried. I took a paper clip and cut my wrists.

Shortly after being released from the hospital, I was taken out into the woods. I stayed in the woods for about a week. I think this was the first time in my life I ever really prayed to G-d. I knew I was either going to die or never leave. And so I learned how to play by the rules. I learned how to manipulate everyone around me.

I graduated from the program in the summer of 1997 after turning 17. Coming back home wasn’t easy. Who could relate to what I’ve just been through? Months of verbal, emotional, mental, physical and even sexual abuse. No one cared. No one believed me.

I spent almost 13 years after destroying myself. I was worse coming out than when I went in. From heavy drug use and drinking to cutting and several other failed suicide attempts, abusive relationships and years of chaos I finally made peace with myself. Today, I am 40 years old and have 15-year relationship with a wonderful therapist but still have nightmares. I still have flashbacks. I still get triggered when the seasons change or something wakes me up in the night.

I barely spoke about this with anyone other than my therapist. Thank you, Paris and all the other survivors for giving me the courage to use my voice and start a new chapter of healing.