Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)




Emotional and Verbal Abuse

Below are clear violations of basic human rights
“I was told everything about me was wrong, bad, and even immoral.” - Jonathan

“Something that caused a lot of pain and mental hurt on me at the school was
when a young teen committed suicide next to me. He threatened suicide the
night before actually going through with it, but his threat was avoided and he
was told that he was looking for attention. He purposely fell from a third story
building onto the sidewalk in front of me and passed away. I don’t want to make
the situation strictly about me because it was tremendously horrible for the
whole school and especially the young boy’s family. I bring it up because I was
the only person who witnessed the whole situation happen, and I was the only
person outside where it took place. I was completely unprepared and taken back
by what I saw. I had a very hard time speaking and sleeping for up to two
months after the incident, and nothing was done to help me seek medical or
mental help. I still have Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome from the incident, and
loud noises continue to cause me to jump.” - Corey Ciresi

“But I was told that I was a whore and I had slept around and there was no way
that I was a virgin when I got there, I was appalled at what they said to me.” -
Darrillyn Boyce

“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.” - Brianna Bernstein

“The staff also heavily practiced verbal abuse techniques by saying that our
parents didn’t want us, we would die if we left the school before completing the
program, that no one wanted to be friends with us until we conformed, or that
we would just kill ourselves with drugs and alcohol until we changed. […] I
watched girls be called sluts and whores over and over for being attractive.” -
Corey Ciresi

“I was told I was a scumbag, pervert, loser, annoying, and my mom would be
ashamed of me if she was looking down at me in heaven. … Honestly I think
those 3 years were the worst in my life. I woke up every day wishing I had died
in my sleep.” - Brandon Adrian

“Eventually, after watching friends be pulled out of classes to carry rocks up and
down a hill all day, being forbidden to have contact with their families, forced to
cut their hair in a short, hideous, boy-cut, and some locked in an isolation room
where they were fed dry tuna on English muffins and warm water 3 times a day,
I decided to comply. Sure, if they wanted me to be an addict, I was now an
addict. […] And still, 10 years after attending FFS, I often have nightmares of
being sent back.” - Caity Super (formerly Caity Ingles)

“We were then cursed at, yelled at, and usually teased and told how inadequate
and unacceptable our feelings were.” - Caity Super (formerly Caity Ingles)

“I witnessed grotesque amounts of verbal abuse, mainly from staff members.
There was one student in my family – a very young girl (only 7th grade at the
time) who was routinely and ritualistically humiliated in front of the entire
family, including her older sister. I was constantly called ”spoiled“ and ”snotty“
and my sister and I had to tend to the family’s pigs for the entire season.” -
Marisa (Mitnaul) Diaz

“I saw was a girl being forced to dig her own grave outside. They said this would
help her realize that she really would be in a grave if she didn’t follow the
school’s recovery plans. Another girl was made to carry cinder blocks up and
down the road in January. Another sick sanction was the poverty sanction. This
was given to kids that acted to spoiled. Every comfort would be taken away,
including bedding. While I was there several students were made to sleep on the
floor or with no blanket. Winter months would not exclude you from this
sanction.” – Grace Cole

“They would ridicule people to the point of complete deterioration, make people
feel disgusting for desiring to have a relationship with the opposite sex, use scare
tactics to manipulate us into submission. All in all it was sick.” - Ryley E.

“I was abused emotionally and verbally every single day at the FFS for
over a year-and-a-half.” - Matt A.

“I remember a time when a new girl with bulimia was restrained by students
while one staff member yelled in her face during dinner.” - Fay Leff

“I got called names like whore and a no good lousy prostitute.” - Tatiana

“I remember the living skills class with Joe Petriella where he would emotionally
abuse me, saying I was ugly and disgusting, that I was a piece of shit, and that
my parents put me in that school to get rid of me, because I was a bitch…. He
said as long as I stayed there he would make my life a living hell…… even his
wife, Jackie, hated me and showered her hatred on me….” - Shantel Becker

“After a few days I was brought up and confronted with all of the facts of my 4th
step in front of the whole community. I was called a whore, cunt, bitch,
prostitute, and easy.” - Kathleen VanArsdale

“[The cow manure sanction] seemed to be a particularly popular sanction for
kids that were too fat. Fat kids were always determined to be lazy slobs who
needed to exercise and work more. They were very open with degrading
language and screaming and they would also throw food at you in some cases
while they were verbally berating you.” - Brendan McMahon

“The boy was forced to tell me in front of the house that he thought I was ugly
and disgusting and had never really been interested.” - Jennifer Jacobs

“Also, in my initial interview I found out I supposedly masturbated regularly
and beat my step-mom daily. They would not believe me when I told them it
wasn’t true.” - Rebecca Schwarzmer

“Our pasts, our friends, and even sometimes our families were vilified to our
faces. Staff often would openly make fun of students, sometimes laughing right
at them, before placing them in the corner or worse.” - Scott Conroy

“I was however subjected to mental abuse as was the case I believe with nearly
anyone who went there. I want to speak here of the more subtle forms of abuse
that go on there, abuses of power, truth and trust. […] I had to be a sex addict
and food addict and drug addict and every other kind of addict. … I had to yell
at people, bring people up, play the game. That’s who graduates and gets to
leave, the ones who play the game.” - Matt A.

“I asked Linda Anderson about an 18 year old who had left recently on bad
terms. I was told she was ‘sucking dick’(excuse my language, only quoting what
staff said).” - Sarah Forman

“The next few months were the worst of my life. I was mentally tortured
nonstop. Every part of my being was picked apart. Sometimes I had a table topic
every day for days. Scare tactics were used to try to change my mind. I was told I
would die, and that God would kill me himself if I walked at the door. The FFS
believed that they were doing the will of God, and that to leave before they saw
fit was going against the will of God. […] They kept saying that all my old
friends had forgotten about me and that my family had notified them that they
would have nothing to do with me when I left. I was told I would be a whore
and throw my body at every man and that I would become a drug addict. They
told me that I had all the signs of a drug addict, that I just hadn’t taken the drug
yet. Every day I was reminded of how sick I was and that no one was going to
take me in if I left. I was even told I would be raped if I left. I was told that if I
went back to my hometown I would die.” - Grace Cole

“One staff, Cathy, kept telling me that I was going to end of with an abusive man
like she had. She would scream about it right in my face. I could tell that she had
lot of anger towards some man and was taking it out on me.” - Grace Cole

“For example, at one of my table topics a staff member kept saying I had beaten
my grandmother up (I never had). I had to agree with her. At different points
they tried to convince me that I was alcoholic even though I had never drunk.
They said if I left and used marijuana I would die (I had never tried marijuana).
They even said that I had a hidden sex addiction that was waiting to come out. I
would admit I had these problems just so I could sit down.” - Grace Cole

“The staff were very verbally abusive and seemed to love the power they had
over all of us. - Rebekah Silverman

“This school humiliated me, degraded me, and made me stoop to levels I had
never, and thought I would never, go.” - Amanda Johnston

“Table topics is where most of the targeting, harassment, verbal and sexual
abuse, degrading, disciplining, and almost any kind of function that was
applicable to the faculty’s desire. This was a tactic used to show the rest of the
group the central dominance, superiority, and power of ability to control each
family’s individual students at large, but at the same time, dehumanizing the
morality and entity of a person and his/her peers. Table topics have been known
to be torturous, staff as well as kids verbally antagonizing the person up at the
table.” – Fabian

“So I was called up one day for a table topic (when a student stands in the family
room in front of 30 peers and 5 staff and is told how bad they are). I was told that
I was lying, stealing, masturbating – all the bad things that I worked so hard not
to do, to stay out of trouble. I argued back and said I wasn’t being dishonest
because I really wasn’t, I couldn’t figure out one thing I did wrong in order to
receive this treatment. I was then sentenced to work sanction (unpaid pointless
labor, carrying buckets of rocks from point A to B, digging trenches, cutting
grass, sweeping the road etc).” - Jacob Lysick

“I was humiliated and abused verbally in front of staff and peers. I was yelled at
by staff telling me I would grow up to be a rapist or a sexual predator. I was
mocked by both students and staff calling me a homosexual, faggot, and queer. I
went through daily verbal torture.” - Jonathan Bowen

“At the time I was very heavy into prayer and meditation because I did not want
to act out violently, and my retort was that my release was in prayer and
meditation. To which the staff member suggested that by saying this, I was
somehow massaging his prostate (in cruder words of course). Verbal abuse was
one of many ways the family school operates, which is sad but is not an isolated
evil.” - Emil Fischer

“A house topic is when the entire school gathers in the gym to address one
student who had done something especially heinous. It was like a table topic, but
with 300 kids and 30 staff yelling at you instead of just your family. A boy and
girl got caught making out behind the stage curtain. They had a house topic and
we screamed at them for hours. The girl was called a whore and they guy was
told he would be using girls for sex his whole life. The girl broke down and
cried.” - Grace Cole

“Oftentimes, the feedback would include derogatory words and screaming.
Students were highly expected to participate with staff in the screaming. The
more you criticized whoever was standing up, the more praise you got from
staff. If you were yelled out for an especially long time it was called being
slammed.” - Grace Cole

“During table topics I was degraded, humiliated and yelled at by both peers and
staff.” - Alex Dellinger

“The entire experience was like some bizarre game of Simon Says except if you
mess up, you don’t eat right for a week, are forced to do manual labor instead of
going to school for two weeks, and usually cursed loudly at. Not a day went by
where [Family Leader] Mike Ducey didn’t make creative use of the F-bomb,
often at 14- or 15-year-old kids who were too emotionally fragile and messed up
to function in a normal schooling environment.“ - Emil Fischer

“I remember her [a fellow student] crying as they berated her for something. I
think I cried just seeing her like that – it was terrible. I remember thinking that
they were doing this to test her somehow, like they really were searching for
something to pick on – some stupid, minute mistake – anything at all – tardiness
or something. If you got up at the table (standing at the open end of the U) and
cried in admission of anything, you were likely to be praised. If you admitted
you were a sinner and begged to be shown the way to light, you were
reprimanded for principal’s sake, but they were happier with you. But you really
had to convince them, and whether or not you could do this seemed to be luck.” -
Clay Hamilton

“So I got the chance to act the part of the senior student, I started to call kids out
on masturbating, I screamed at kids, humiliated them, I did everything that the
staff did to the kids so I could fit in under the staff’s shadows to stay safe and
fed.” - Jacob Lysick

“The school is set up in a way where kids are forced to be paranoid their entire
stay; because at any given moment what little dignity you are granted in life can
be stripped away from you. At the school reality and truth is not dictated by
reality and truth, but rather by the whimsical perceptions of the staff members
who take on a holier than thou role.” - Emil Fischer

“There was a student in Family One with me who has a clinical condition called
Asperger’s Syndrome, for anyone who doesn’t know what that is, it is a form of
autism. Tom[, a staff member,] would harass this kid, to the point where he
would act out, and people wondered why this kid was having a hard time
adjusting. This was one example of several that I can think of where staff
members would taunt kids who were particularly emotionally fragile. - Emil