Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)




Melanie Bilcik

 Reading others Testimonys about their experience at the Family Foundation brings back a lot of bad memories that I have tried to forget. I guess I thought I was just really bad or extra sensitive and didn't think anyone was affected as I was. It brings me so much peace to know that others had endured what I had (if that makes sense).

I was at the FFS for 6 agonizing months. I honestly don't know how the people that were there for years lasted.  I always wondered how people let themselves get brainwashed in cults. It never made sense to me. I understand now that the human mind is not always as strong as we want to believe. I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. I also had substance abuse issues as a teen. I used drugs to numb the pain I felt because finding an appropriate medication for my illness as a teen is very hard. Doctors are not supposed to diagnose bipolar in anyone younger than 18.

My parents tried putting me in numerous rehabs and psych wards but the short term just wasn't working.  I would be good for a couple months and then revert back to my old behavior.  I was also missing so much school because of my issues. I kept getting kicked out of every high school my parents enrolled me in. My parents finally found the FFS and thought it was the perfect place for me. To this day they do not want to believe how horrible the place was and how severe it damaged me. The FFS is very good at brainwashing everyone they come in contact with.  They convinced my parents that it was not a mental illness that caused me to act the way I did, it was the music and clothes I was interested in. My parents threw out all my clothes, tapes, CD's, posters, basically everything I owned. They bought me new clothes that didn't fit right and I was not permitted to have any of my personal possesions like my journal. My first day at the FFS was not bad.

People were very nice to me and they didn't force me to eat anything I didn't want. I figured it was just like the other places I had been in, I would just be there longer. I was so wrong. On my second day they still hadn't gotten me my psychiatric meds and I was getting very ill. I kept asking for my meds and they said that my meds were not a priority and I would get them when it was convenient for them. I grew increasingly ill and was starting to have psychotic delusions but no one seemed to care. They would not let me call my parents to let them know what was happening. Had my parents known they were withdrawing my meds, my parents would have thrown a fit. Eventually they got me meds, but would not give them to me as prescribed. I was anything but mentally stable. Two of the side effects of my meds was they made me gain weight and very tired. I was put on a trotting sanction(you have to jog everywhere and jog in place when you are standing)and brought up in front of the family and humilated by everyone. I had 20 kids and 5 staff call me lazy and fat and told I would never find a man to
love me because I was so disgusting. I started having nightmares because I was brought up in front of everyone to be more and more and humilated.

They would keep telling me I wasn't being honest about certain things, when I was. I was trying so hard and doing every thing they said so the verbal abuse would stop but it only got worse. You are not allowed to touch or look at the opposite sex but at dinner the seating was
boy girl boy girl, and they put the seats so close together its almost impossible not to brush up against the person sitting next to you once and a while. The boys would tell staff I was touching them and that I creeped them out. I learned to not make eye contact with anyone and I was terrified to look at anyone for fear they would say I was staring. I walked with my head down all the time.

Due to my nightmares and medication I was falling asleep in church(chapel was twice a day, once in the morning and once at night) and also in class.  A group of girls and staff did an intervention with me and accused me of staying up all night masterbating because one girl heard me tossing and turning. I was yelled at and told that they will always know when I masturbated because lust causes fatigue and if I was tired it meant I was masturbating all night. I denied it because it wasn't true but no one would talk to me and I was always yelled at for everything. I had to run around the building 2 times every morning and put on a work sanction to "wake me up". I eventually admitted to having a 'severe masturbation' problem just so people would talk to me.

I was also assigned a junior sponsor who was a tyrant. She followed me everywhere, constantly yelled at me and brought me up in front of the family and made up things just to humiliate me. Noting I did was ever good enough and I felt like I would never leave. My phone calls and mail were monitored so I couldn't tell my parents what was happening.

I was forced to eat what made me sick as was everyone else.  I remember this one girl was a vegitarian when she came in and refused to eat meat. They made her sit in a corner until she ate her meal. She didn't eat anything for two days and when she finally gave in they made her eat the meat she refused two days ago. You had to eat everything on your plate, even if you were full. If you didn't you were put in the infamous corner.

I was in the corner so many times I cant remember. You had to sit the corner, look down and couldnt talk to anyone. They also made me miss school to sit in the corner all day. I missed more school in the FFS than when I was on home schooling. My education level did not improve and I was failing classes. In FFS you had to get a B to pass. I was getting more and more frustrated and whenever I showed the slightest sign of anger or depression I was rolled in a blanket and duct tape and thrown in the janitor closet alone for hours, one time a whole day. I couldn't use the rest room and was forced to urinate myself. When they saw what I had done they called me a disgusting pig and threw me in a scalding hot shower with my clothes on and threw insults at me. The abuse was getting so bad that I was suicidal and started wetting my bed. I wasn't getting better at the FFS I was getting worse. I was forced to tell my parents how happy I was there.

 I ran away once and made it back to NYC. I took a bag of clothes with me and hitch hiked my way into town. I found a guy to buy me a ticket to NJ (where I'm from. I had to switch buses in NYC and I lost all my street smarts. I was used to being in a cult family like setting that I smiled at everyone and almost expected everyone to be safe. I was almost kidnapped by a guy who tried to grab me but I got away. When I made it back home my mom drove me right back upstate.

They didn't believe anything I told them and thought I was making it up. I tried to run away again about a month later. I was caught. Because I was 18 they were going to let me go but I was not allowed to take anything with me but the clothes on my back. They said that everything I had belonged to my parents and my parents wanted me at the FFS so I could not take anything because that would be stealing. I packed a bag anyway and Bob Runge grabbed, hit and wrestled me to the ground with two girls from my family. I was so mad that I broke his glasses which I eventually had to pay for. I once again made it back home and was sent back.

My mental health was getting worse and I was developing severe stress disorder. One day I flipped out at the family and went to run out the back door.  A bunch of girls followed me and tackled me to the ground.  I blacked out and started choking my junior sponsor. A staff had to smother me and make me pass out to make me stop. I didn't realize what I was doing, I was just doing it. They sent a psychiatrist to evaluate me and I lied and said I thought about killing her all the time and was doing it on purpose so they would send me out. I got my way and was sent to a psych ward. My parents were going to send me back but thankfully the FFS wouldn't take me back.

Upon leaving I developed severe anxiety disorder and didn't know how to socialize with others. I develpoed insominia and to this day I suffer with nightmares and am terrified in social situations. My accounts may seem scattered but thats how my memories are. There is a lot I have not mentioned because I do not want to make this a novel. I want to thank you for giving me the chance to tell my story to people who believe me. Up until now no one has believed me. I was almost sent to Elan in Maine after but thankfully they would not let anyone on meds be admitted and my parents would not allow that.

In another testimony someone mentioned that people do not succeed BECAUSE of the family school but IN SPITE of and that is so true. I am still in therapy and have moved to AZ, I graduated from college and now work with homeless youth.

Submitted By: Melanie Bilcik