Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)




Kathleen VanArsdale

In the early summer of 1987 I was leaving drug rehab. Because of my age and general lack of cooperation the rehab wanted me to seek additional help. The rehab recommended The Family. In the summer of 1987 the "new school" was still in the process of being built. The guys still lived in the house in Long Eddy, NY. The girls were at that time living on the farm in the dormitories.
The day I got to the family was a rude awakening. I had been a vegetarian for many years and the people that ran the school, at that time Tony and Betty told me that I would have to eat what ever was put in front of me. That meant meat from livestock that had been slaughtered on the farm. I was sick for a while.

The next wrong was having to perform sanctions for the mistakes of people that had been there before me. The women were forced to run 2 miles per day after only sleeping for about 4 hours. I was forced to eat dry oats as a punishment for not finishing my run in time. I was forced to stand in the corner for no reason, and after my parents brought my brother there for two weeks because they were going on vacation and had know one else to watch him. Because of the treatment that my brother received, he ran away, was brought back by the police because he was 16 and then he was beat up. He is now 39 and still has a bump on his ear as a result of that altercation.
I cut my hand bad doing trash duty and was not taken to the hospital for stitches and a tetanus shot. I still have a scar on my left hand.

I was encouraged to write out a 4th step and was given a "sponsor" to do my 5th step. 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.

I saw arranged marriages, brain washing, sleep deprivation, back braking farm work in the heat of the summer, and physical abuse.
The place was a nightmare.
There was no access to telephone, television, news, newspapers, magazines, books, money,
I was screamed at, forced to eat food that i had not eaten in many years, I was subjected to physical torture, and forced to work in subhuman conditions.

I believe the situation that really convinced me that the family school was really a cult were two situations:
1. When anyone from the outside was allowed in the usual behavior was curtailed and nonexistent. That is why people from the outside were not allowed to come in very often.
2. When I had been there about 1 month a little boy was brought to the house by his parents. His name was Anthone and he was 11 years old. His parents and Tony and Betty called him a "potential alcoholic". He was so cute and he was a very nice boy. Tony and Betty destroyed this child. They caused him unnecessary emotional and physical abuse and they probably wrecked his life as much as those people wrecked my life for a while.
All I can say is that my life has turned out amazingly well. I have been sober for almost 23 years. That is more than half my life. I have a loving husband and three wonderful children. I have many close friends and a life worth living that I feel very blessed to have.