Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)


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Dave C.

This is my full testimony about my time at the FFS. This was my nightmare. I've been hesitant to do this because remembering what I went through scares the living hell out me. I tried to block the FFS from my memory for almost 9 years now, so I'll try to recall my experiences as best I can. I remember the beginning like it was yesterday. It was June 4, 1998 when my parents woke me up to inform me I was getting sent away. I was a bad kid, there's no denying that. I used drugs, I drank alcohol, I went to one inpatient and two outpatient rehabs, I was arrested numerous times, made two trips to the psychiatric ward, and I was expelled from my high school all by the age of 15. I was the kid parents told their kids not to hang around. However, none of my behavior deserved the treatment I was about to endure. So after my parents told me this I wanted to call my probation officer to see if it was mandatory. She told me if I didn't listen to my parents that there would be a warrant out for my arrest and I would be locked up for a year. In all sincerity if I had to make the decision today I would choose jail over the FFS. So we headed up to Hancock, NY.

I was greeted by Bob Runge upon my arrival. He took me into a room with 4 guys who strip searched me like I was a drug smuggler, literally. Now at the time I had numerous piercings throughout my body. I was told to remove all of them, so I removed the ones I could. However, I had very thick gauged earrings which needed pliers to be removed. I attempted many times to remove them by hand, but they wouldn't budge. I simply asked for a pair of pliers so that I could remove them and the next thing I know Bob Runge throws me up against the wall and puts his finger through the loop and is threatening to rip them out if I don't remove them. Now Bob Runge was probably about 6'6'' tall and about 250-300 lbs., I stood probably 5'6'' tall and about 140 lbs., get the picture. He went on to tell me that I would be wrapped up in a blanket, duct taped, and thrown in the isolation closet (Yes, it was a dirty supply closet back in 1998) if I didn't remove them. I continued to ask for pliers and eventually Chris Nico (One of the few good Staff there) came back with them. My right ear lobe was torn and bleeding from the pressure that Bob Runge had put on it. Through all of this I was being ridiculed by Staff and senior members for my appearance, they called me a "punk" and a "freak" and took great pleasure in watching Bob Runge threaten me. That all happened in my first hour at the FFS.

I remember my first meal there in Family 6, I was instantly put on blackout with another girl who arrived that day, no reasoning behind it just because they were in control. Now since graduation was only a few weeks away the “senior” members were being brought up in front of the table. This was when I first met the infamous Paul G. (who by the way was my sponsor for my entire 2 and ½ year sentence there, Lucky me!) I remember a girl being brought up and talking about her fears of re-entering the Real world. I thought she sounded crazy, but little did I know that the FFS was what socially crippled her. After she was done sharing, the so-called FFS therapy began. Paul G. began by telling her that if she didn’t continue to follow the FFS way, that she would inevitably become the whore she used to be. He went on tell her without the FFS program she would amount to nothing and nobody will ever love her or care for her. I felt terrible for this girl, she was simply opening up about her fears. However, it wasn’t over. Then the loyal soldiers (aka Senior Members) continued where Paul had left off. About 5-6 Senior Members berated and demoralized this girl for over a half an hour.

They fed off of each other, they all seemed to say the same exact thing just in their own different words. Paul just sat back and watched these monsters he created verbally abuse this girl. This scared the ever living hell out of me. These students were supposed to be the ones we could trust and open up to, but most of them became worse than staff there. In my first week I had witnessed two students get restrained, and I don’t care what anybody else says it was nothing other than Abuse. It was outside by the school entrance right after the long hallway. The boy was refusing to do something his shadow told him, so the shadow called over a couple of staff members, Ted T. being one of them. They argued back and forth for about a minute, then next thing you know the three of them had the kid on his stomach with a knee in the middle of his back. Another staff member went and grabbed the blanket and duct tape and when he returned they proceeded to wrap him up and then tape the blanket shut so he was completely immobile.

The sick part was they all seemed to get some masochistic pleasure out of doing this to him. Then they carried him to the supply closet next to the locker rooms and threw him on the dirty floor. I remember him being in that closet, only being fed dry tuna on a stale English muffin three meals a day for almost an entire week. That’s insane! This type of stuff went on my entire stay there, the only thing that changed were the students and they also upgraded the isolation room to a small padded closet in the gym, those were the only things that changed. I remember students sitting or standing in the corner for months on end. Students being on work sanction all day for weeks on end. Skinny girls being forced to eat doubles, slightly over-weight students being forced to eat halves. The girls that staff deemed as being too attractive were forced to cut their hair and wear baggy clothes with no make-up. They labeled everybody as either an alcoholic, drug addict, sex addict, or all of the above in my case. Girls were told they were worthless pieces of meat and were simply blow-up dolls for male desires.

Anybody who experimented with drugs or alcohol was made out to be a complete junkie. They told you how you were before you came to the FFS and they controlled every aspect of your being while you were there. They played God! You were forced to pray and practice different religions. Any type of non-acceptance to the FFS program was met with extreme punishment. You had to be whatever they wanted you to be to survive there. I remember my sponsor, Paul Geer, telling me that I was insecure and that I resented many of the other students there. I remember him telling me that I was a sex addict and that I masturbated every night. I remember writing a list of the drugs I’ve done, which he told me to do, but then told me I was lying about the stuff I did. Paul was an admitted sex addict and seemed to want to label others the same to not feel alone, so I became I sex addict. I became whatever he wanted me to because I had to, or else! I actually had a serious problem with drugs, but because they deemed me as having problems with anger, resentment, defiance, disrespect, and of course a sexual deviance, I became what they envisioned in their minds. So my actual drug problem was pushed aside and never dealt with because they told me that wasn’t my main problem. I remember when Paul G. would verbally destroy me in our sponsor talks and then hug me when he was done as if to justify the verbal abuse I just endured. I did work sanctions. I did the infamous rock pile where you would have to move an enormous mound of rocks from one end of the parking lot to the other with a wheel barrel. I sat in the corner for days while eating the dry tuna for every meal. I was never the poster boy they wanted me to be, I learned to do the bare minimum to get by there. I refused to berate the other students and at times was punished for not ganging up with Staff.

I remember going on my first home visit, which took me about 15 months to accomplish. I found a bowl in my room that had enough resin in it to get high. Now like I said before I had a problem with drugs, so when I took the bowl and threw it down a storm drain instead of smoking it, I was proud of myself. In a real NA or AA program this would be considered a huge step, but the FFS saw it differently. They told me I was a liar, they drug tested me and they told me I tried contacting old friends. I was being honest (Stupid me) and the test came back negative, but they still threw me in the corner until I admitted to my faults when I was home. So I made up a list of things they wanted to hear, but never actually happened. I told them I called an old friend, I watched porn and I smoked a couple of cigarettes. By lying to them about stuff I didn’t even do I wasn’t allowed to go home for a few months after that. What you actually did never mattered to them its what they thought you did that counted.

By the way the FFS claims to practice the idea of Absolute Honesty! Everyday I was there I lived in this constant fear and anxiety . Nobody can understand what we went through there unless you experienced it yourself. The FFS is abusing and destroying kids lives. I didn’t even know who I was when I left the FFS. I got out in December 2000 and I went off the deep end. I was a complete and utter mess when I re-entered Reality. That place had crippled me in so many ways. Nine years later and I’m still living with the fallout that place created for me. I still have nightmares. They took apart of my life that I will never get back. My memories of that place still send shivers down my spine to this very day. Until recently I had blocked everything I went through there out of my memory the best I could. I lost contact with everyone there.

I’m in a better place in my life now, but the nightmares and abuse that took place there will never go away. I consider myself to be a huge success story from where I came from. I’ve accomplished everything the FFS told me I wouldn’t if I didn’t follow there program. The only thing I took from the FFS are memories of Abuse.

Submitted By: Dave C.