Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)


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THE FAMILY FOUNDATION SCHOOL
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Brianna B

Campaign Administrator Note: POSTER'S LAST NAME HAS BEEN REMOVED AS REQUESTED BY THEM FOR PERSONAL AND PRIVACY REASONS.  Our Campaign has verified that the person who wrote this testimonial was a student of The Family Foundation School.

It has been many years since I have thought about my time at the family school (hence forth abbreviated as FFS), perhaps because it's unpleasant to think of it or perhaps because I some how can not remember all of it. I attended from August 8, 2002 until August 4, 2004, which were from the ages of 13 to 15. I think that such a time is difficult for any adolescent and that environment heavily influences development during those years. That being said, the way in which I believe I was abused most, is not physical, but mental and emotional. I was impressionable, confused and unstable, which was only exacerbated by the influx of messages about myself, the world, and how I belonged in society.

In order to provide a more comprehensive view of the way in which these "messages" impacted me, I think it is necessary to state my reasons for being at FFS. My parents were divorcing and my mother had cancer, so my parents wanted me to be in a situation where I could be cared for and stable. Prior to their divorce and during my mother's cancer I had been diagnosed with bulimia. I was the prescribed anti depressants, which made me exhibit symptoms of Bi-Polar disorder; this combination of factors made FFS appealing for my parents. After I left, I asked why they chose FFS and my mother explained that the information provided by the school was grossly inaccurate and that during my stay the FFS staff did not report my problems.

The FFS claims to be able to treat addictions, learning disabilities, eating disorders and behavioral issues, through the 12 steps of AA and counseling. However, when I attended they did not recognize my learning disabilities nor provide counseling. The FFS also had me involved in and learn about A.A., when I was not diagnosed or pronounced an addict or alcoholic. They also are a "school", not a treatment center, so has no documents of treating me for addiction, yet is able to "treat addicts".
 
I did not receive psychiatric care from any outside professional and the school psychiatrist took me off medication entirely. When I acted out: cutting, running away, screaming and crying, etc. instead of being provided with psychiatric help, a therapist or conversation with staff about my problems, I was punished. My mother told the school about my eating disorder, yet they still punished me with food sanctions (eating only dry tuna on a english muffin) and forced labor, thus I lost 35-40 pounds in 3 months and continued to act out in order to keep loosing weight. I became 98 pounds at 5'3" and lost my period for 6 months, yet was not allowed to go see a GYN. doctor (it took my mother visiting and scheduling an appointment without the school.) I am asthmatic and was told I was "faking it" (By staff in Family 7) after being made to run up and down 2 flights of stairs with a bag full of text books. I also got asthma from having to paint walls during work sanction. I was put on a sanction (disciplinary measure) in which I was not allowed to speak until spoken to, not even to use the bathroom and people had the right to ignore me. This sanction meant that I was constantly unable to go to the bathroom unless someone acknowledged me, so on three occasions I urinated on myself, after having to hold it for 4 hours. I was told that I had peed to be defiant and inconvenience other students. The no speaking sanction also meant that I could not ask for water, even during work sanctions of carrying buckets of rocks or a cinder block, in the heat. I was not allowed to drink and was severely dehydrated numerous times.

At the risk of being too lengthy, I will stop addressing physical abuse and try to convey the emotional trauma I endured. I was repeatedly told that I had caused my mother's cancer and father's divorce through my behavior; that I am a liar, cheat, manipulator, pervert, sinner, sex fiend, callous and evil. The FFS had other students address me as such and state their grievances against me. I had to state " Hi, my name is Brianna and I will manipulate you, beware." These sanctions came from me doing things like cutting myself or threatening to cut myself until I spoke with my mother or a doctor. Instead of allowing me to do either, I was locked in a 6x6 room, with moldy carpets, in a t-shirt and gym shorts and had my arms wrapped in a pillow case and bound with duct-tape and then bound together. This room was air conditioned and had a bright light, so that I could not sleep and was freezing. My arms were tapped so tightly that when it was removed the following day I had multiple bruises. On another occasion when I was cutting myself, staff made two students sit with me. Staff told them to ignore me, even if I was bleeding and to not do anything until I stopped cutting. I cut myself for 3 hours straight, hoping that this would make staff let me talk to my mother or a doctor. The staff would not take me to the nurse so I got an infection in my arm.

So, back to emotional abuse, instead of being on no speaking until spoken to, my family leader Mike Lossico, told my family to completely ignore me (SHUN me) and made me stand out in a hall during both the winter and summer, this was because my mother had decided to transfer me to a private,less restrictive school. Mike Lossico told my family (unit of students) that my mother was sending me to a lock down facility, because the school could not help someone "hopeless" like me.I was entirely ignored, silent and doing manual labor on and off for 2 years, during which time I was also restrained and bruised.
So, that was my experience; I do not blame the family school for my life subsequent, nor do I deny the positive experience had by other students. I simply stated what I could remember, so that prospective parents are aware and so that others, who shared in the struggle, know they were not alone.