Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)


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Carleen Stroh

My name is Carleen Stroh. I am 38 years of age at the present time. This is my Testimony.

After I graduated middle school and was anticipating a summer vacation with friends and activities, my mother informed me we were taking a trip to Six Flags. Unknown to me my bag was packed and in the trunk of the car. It was 1985 and I was 13 years old. I fell asleep in the car ride as I've always have. When I awoke I looked around and could see nothing that resembled Six Flags. My family got out of the car and the next thing I saw was my suitcase. I was so confused. I was greeted by an oddly shaped, large man who seemed gentle and glad to see us. Looking over at my mother I could see tears running down her face. I knew something was going on. I was not the most placid of teenagers so I demanded to know where I was and what was going on. I was then separated from my family with not so much as a hug or explanation. The house was in the country. It looked like an old broke down Ranch home. On the other side of the road was a hill fenced in with animals.

Entering the house it smelled of a must smell. There were about 5-7 unattractive people staring at me. I was brought into a house where the once gentle looking man started yelling at me to where I could feel every drop of spit spraying from his mouth hit my face. I thought I was having a nightmare and couldn't wake myself up. I started walking away when I was grabbed by my arm and pulled back to sit in a chair again and again. After many attempt to get up and get out I noticed more and more people surrounding me. If my own mother had not have dropped me off I would have thought I had been kidnapped. I remember telling them this was a mistake.

Then I was informed that I was a drug addict, an alcoholic, a sexual pervert, and a sinner in the eyes of God. Mind you I had never done drugs and I had drank on two occasions. I said a few choice words and Tony jumped up like a mad man and told me he was not my mommy and I wasn't going to suck the milk from 'his' tit. Then he acted out that of a person drinking then a person doing drugs but when he got to the sexual pervert part he looked like a crazy man. Standing up and acting as if he was pulling his penis back and forth. Tony was always talking about masturbation. Night after night at the dinner table he would accuse some one of masturbation. As he would say "Are you pulling your pud!" (Tony's favorite phase) It got to the point where at dinner someone would confess to having masturbated that day and Tony almost looked happy. We were not allowed to talk to the guys and seeing that I was only 13 I wasn't interested in the old men that were there. Their was only maybe 3 guys that weren't old. I was a 13 year old girl. The only sex I had was being a child of molestation. I told him he was crazy and then everyone standing over me starting yelling, not that I could make out what one of them was saying because they were all yelling at the same time. I decided to shut up and not say anything. That made things worse.

I was made to sit in a chair in the corner of the room with my nose pushed up against the wall. The house was not big so sitting there you could hear everything going on around you and they were talking about me. If I even turned my head to the side I was given another hour. I must have spent hundreds of hours in that corner before I left. No one was allowed to talk to me but anytime someone would walk by they would yell scaring the crap out of me.


As I was sitting for about 3 hours I could hear women in the kitchen cooking. I could not see them because of facing the corner, but I could hear their conversations. They would say a persons name and then a number. I later found out that the number was your portion of food you would receive. One, two, or three. I became a one; this meant I would receive the least amount of food. Ex: One egg and one piece of toast. I was not allowed to eat my first day at the table. They handed me my plate in the corner, it was a half of a bologna sandwich and three potato chips. The food did not get much better the entire 9 months I was there. I often wondered what we were eating. I could not identify which animal I was eating or if it was an animal. But we were made to eat everything on the plate. If you didn't it was wrapped up and waiting for you for the next meal. I had the same plate of Liver for 6 days, which meant I ate nothing for 6 days; I could not and would not eat it. I vomited a piece up that I managed to get down and I was made to pick up the vomited portion and eat it again. I was ready to die of starvation before I ate that Liver; It grew some kind of mold and smelled so bad by day 6 that tony actually through it in the garbage plate and all. I was underfed and made to eat things I never would eat. I was given a goat that I named Billy and soon after I was made to eat him.

My relationship with Billy(the goat) was the healthiest I had during my stay at The Family. Who does that? Imagine your father telling you to go outside and shoot your dog, then clean it up, cut it up and cook it and eat it. Because of all of the physical labor I was always hungry. I stopped getting my period while I was in there. Which was almost a blessing because women could not use tampons they were restricted to Pads only as it was explained to me by Betty that tampons were wrong because of being inserted into the vagina.

I don't remember many names of the other people in there but I knew I was the youngest. The names I do remember were Kevin; he had been there a while and was one of the 'good' ones. He led the boys in work details. Betty looked over the girls until a girl Darlene came back. Apparently she had been there before and returned and after she received the silent treatment she moved up the ranks, she was brain washed, but she was older then most of us. According to her she had no place else to go.

Their was a girl Theresa she was 16 or 17 turned out she lived in the same town as me and both of our parents were referred by Jim Lawler from New Platz, NY, he was a teen councilor who I only had two sessions with. Another girl Regina or Gina as we called her she was a little overweight. On many occasions she would some how get food wrapped in a napkin and would try to eat it at night in bed. She got caught many times and was put in the chair in the middle of the circle and everyone was yelling at her. Mostly calling her names associated with being heavy. I refused to scream at her and so did some of the others. If we were caught not yelling at her we were punished in different ways.

No set punishments across the board, it was whatever Tony came up with for that person. I also remember Tony making Gina run as one of the older guys followed her in the van yelling at her the whole way. She passed out every time this would happen and never receive medical attention.
We were not allowed any contact with the outside world. We had no TV, newspapers, magazines, or phone. Even books that our parents may have sent us were never given to us. A phone call from your parents was something you had to earn and even then Tony, Betty, Annie, Mikey, or one of the older ones was listening on the other line. My mom would call to check on me and ask to speak to me and she would be told we were on a hike or something like that. When my family did come to see me we were never left alone. My cousin who was like a sister to me started asking me questions and my chaperone told her that those were inappropriate questions. She and I had a bond and she could read my eyes. She told me she stressed to my mother the whole way home that things were not as they were made to look. But prior to seeing your family they had to go through a family meeting themselves with Tony in which he would tell them that sometimes tough love is confused by us as abuse. So he covered his bases in case your family was catching on to what was going on.


Tony and Betty ran things back then at 'THE FAMILY'. When I 1st got there the girls slept in the main house in the basement. Soon after they put a mobile home in the back yard and gutted it out so they could put bunk beds and just the bathroom. It was not cooled or heated. So we had 12 girls in an old broken down mobile home. There were holes in the 'roof'. They would just take a silver sheet of something and nail it in to where the nails came into the roof on the inside and if you had a top bunk you had to watch where your head went because you could easily catch it on the nail. I used the nails as hooks to hang my hand washed underwear to dry. The laundry was shady, you would put in clothes and they didn't come back. I kept my socks and underwear and hand washed them when I could. I was not going to go in animal crap without extra protection of socks, and the underwear, there were girls that at times did not wear any. We could not take a shower everyday; it was more of a rotating schedule.

The floor of the shower broke so they cut it out so the water would run in a ditch they dug under the mobile home. So we had to stand on this rack 2, above the muddy waters underneath it. It was gross because we worked with animals on the farm, shoveling crap, plucking chickens that were beheaded and boiled right in front of us, as well as rabbits, goats, and cows. I was 13 and did not have working papers but yet not only was I made to work on the farm we were also subcontracted out. Their was a Jewish summer camp not too far away and we would go into the kitchen and clean up all the trays, pots and pans, mop the floors and anything else that had to be done. We went to the local churches and cleaned. The guys did construction work building the new mens house. THE FAMILY got paid for us to do this work, plus I paid $5,000.00 to go there.

While on the farm I had to bail hay. I weighed 80lbs and I was expected to walk behind a truck while it was moving and pick up the hay and throw it into the truck. I could not physically do this so most of the time I ended up on sanction, which meant that anytime the others had free time I had more work to do. I often was put on breakfast duty which meant getting up at 3am so to have breakfast ready for everyone by 5:15am. Also if I was on breakfast duty and it was my day to shower I was not allowed. So I might have gone more than 5 day without a shower. Betty cut my hair off when I first got there because my hair was long. She was not a hair dresser, and used regular paper cutting scissors. We were only allowed 4 minutes in the shower and most of the time the water was so cold and it was 30 [degrees[ outside. Hard to wash your body and hair in that amount of time with warm water try it with cold water. I had an enormous amount of colds that winter and a case of bronchitis. They used anal thermometers so we wouldn't be asking what our temperature were. While canning tomatoes outside with large pots set on burners, my hands would be red and the skin was peeling off my fingers by the way of blisters. Some days I could hardly stand. It was freezing outside but I was burning up and felt so weak. The first couple of times I would point it out to them but they only made me stand out there long after the other had been released and I would have to clean everything up. So I didn't mention it again. I did bring it up when a lady standing next to me did drop to the ground. All I heard was a loud thug. I looked over and there she was on the ground and no one moved. They all kept to their positions and didn't even blink. I stopped and started over to her when I was grabbed and placed back in the position I was working. I received a sanction that evening because it was my fault for not knowing she was a diabetic. Tony later sat me down to let me know that this woman was only 'acting' because she was a lazy useless pile of poop and that I was never to show her special attention because that is what she wanted. Didn't look like it to me but, don't question Tony - EVER. Many other cases of people being ill or hurt and no treatment was administered was normal.

I had two medical emergencies while there. The 1st was I was struck by a goat with horns and rolled down the hill into a barb wire fence. I was in a lot of pain and told to shake it off. I was bleeding from where the wire went into my arms and legs but was told I had to finish feeding them before I could come in. The 2nd was I passed out from heat stroke and laid unconscious for more then 10 minutes. Neither time was I looked at by a professional, only Betty. My point in telling the above is that these people played GOD with my life. Laws that were set in place for minors did not apply at THE FAMILY. I once sat on a trailer stacked over 5 feet with bails of hay being pulled by a pick up truck with about 5 other people and the hitch broke and we went flying down the road until a pick up truck got in front of us to stop us. That night I was upset that we didn''t die. I thought to myself I should have jumped and this would all be over.

I canned vegetables in the freezing cold until my fingers had blisters so bad I could not pick up anything. Anytime I complained I was yelled at and called a lazy masturbating pervert. They broke me down so much that I was looking for ways just to kill myself. But with no alone time to speak of this was next to impossible. I started writing in a book my mom had sent to me and that was not only taking from me but read aloud in front of everyone. However the words I wrote were translated by Tony. I was then set for the silent treatment. No one was allowed to talk to me, if they did, they would have gotten in trouble. Also, my mom was sending me cigarettes and candies and I would be lucky to see one pack of them. Let it be known that at 13 I was allowed to smoke there, again against the law, but I guess it was ok with the Argiros'.
 
Tony was made aware of me being sexually molested from the time I was 8 till I was 11 and the fact that I had a step father that physically abused me. He took this and shared it with everyone around the table. They even voted on whether I provoked it or not. Saying that I was just asking for it. I was 8 years old and Tony did not know me. What 8 year old asks to be raped day after day by my 16 year old step brother? He told everyone my step father tried to help me by beating me within inches of my life for my own good, now that started from the time I was around 4 years old. He applauded my step father and told everyone had my mother stayed with him I might not have been sent to THE FAMILY.

Tony told everyone my Mother did not want me back and I would have no place to go. From then on I was a slut. That is what Tony would call me. I would be doing something and I would hear his loud mouth call out "SLUT! SLUT! It is time to go clean the church." "Hurry up I know you can move those legs faster". Then he would make sexual motions, trusting his hips front and back, then opening his mouth and gesturing a blow job. At this point he broke me. I had no life left in me.

He confirmed my worst fear in life, that I deserved to be raped and physically abused. I did die that night. Any sense of self respect I was holding on to was gone. Watching Tony prance around like a monkey with me in the middle of the group showing everyone how much I wanted it by putting his hand over my breast and I didn't move. This made his point that I didn't even try to fight him off. When I finally stood up he gave me a small pat on my back side as to show I enjoyed it. At that point he won. I became a walking talking FAMILY ROBOT. I belonged to the CULT. It was my turn to start yelling at new comers, which I never did before. I wasn't getting in trouble anymore because I did whatever was asked of me and did not question anything. I did not sleep; I lived in fear of what might happen if I fell asleep. (I have never been able to fall asleep again natures way. I have been on sleeping pills since I left there when I was 14.) I worked twice as hard as before to where my body became numb. I was a robot. The focus was off me and he moved on to someone else. I worked my 12 steps. Which was a joke because I would listen to what the older kids were saying they did and then I would just change some of it around and say I did it. I had to do my 4th step and I was actually admitting I was wrong for my step brothers sexual abuse and my step fathers physical abuse. You can see where this is going. I could write a book on my experience at THE FAMILY and it would be a horror story.

To make this already long testimony a little shorter I will just let you know what has happened to me since leaving THE FAMILY. Four days after going home to my mother I went to a party and drank. My mom kicked me out. I then went to stay with my aunt and left her when I was 16. I lived on the streets until I was 18. Then got my GED and went to business school. I left NY and have not been back and my life has been a very hard long road. Do I blame it on THE FAMILY, yes; in part they took me and broke me down beyond anything you can imagine. I needed help and they gave me HELL.

The army mentality of breaking a soldier down of his past ways is what I could compare it to. Except in the army the next step after breaking someone down is to build them back up so they become confident soldiers. Tony and Betty left us like broken down dolls on the side of the road. Tony ruled with fear. Betty tried to make us girls feel like she was on our side but her fear of Tony prevented her ever protecting us from him. Mikey was The Golden Child, but he was a coward and he just like to come watch the Freak show. Tony would make the girls date Mikey if he wanted them. The Family as it were was a sick breeding hole with a man obsessed with his penis and masturbation. I still have nightmares about him trusting his hip back and forth and back and forth.

I to this day do not know why I was let go. I had only been there for 9 months. My mother says it is because she did see the abuse. She said I had no light in my eyes and never a smile on my face and that is not what she signed up for. She told Tony I was going home with her right then. Something else must have happened because Tony does not let anyone go unless you don't pay or you leave in a body bag.

I am sorry to all those who came behind me. Looking back I wished I could have somehow stood up to them. But I was unable.

 
Submitted By: Carleen Stroh