Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)


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Rebekah Silverman

My name is Rebekah Silverman and I attended the Family Foundation School for about five months in early 2008. It was a short period of time but it ended up scaring me for life. When I was about seven years old I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. I was on medication but none of it ever worked. I was sent to a psychiatric ward when I was twelve and was abused badly there for two weeks before I was released. That ward was soon shut down after I left because of my abuse. They said if I was there one more day I would of died.

I was never and abuser or "addict" but I was severely depressed. My parents decided they couldn't help me anymore and sent me away at 5:00 a.m. January 28th 2008. I was woken up to my mother shaking me in my bed saying "you have to go away now". I was still half asleep as they left the room and had no idea I was being sent away prior to this no warnings nothing. Two police officers then entered my room and told me I had five minutes to come downstairs and get in their car. I didn't fight it I then got up and went with them. We drove for almost four hours they told me things about the place I was going to like it was beautiful and very open I would be able to smoke cigarettes and it was just like one big family. All of which turned out to be lies when I arrived but yeah we were all one big abused dysfunction family. Two girls greeted me at the car before I could even get out. They took a large plastic case from the trunk supposed to have my stuff in it. I hesitated to get out but I thought this was inevitable so I didn’t waste time and reluctantly went with them into the building. I walked in it looked like a normal high school. They then took me to the girls locker room. I met Jackie Petriella there and two other women there. They made me take out all my piercings which I declined at first but ended up doing it anyway. One of my piercing I had just gotten (a monroe piercing) with my parents permission two days before I was set away. I could not get it out and neither could they so they had no other choice but to let me keep it in. As they continued to search through my things they wrote my initials on everything I could keep. Then they said I had to get naked squat a cough I was appalled that strangers would even ask this of me. I then started to flip out screaming and cursing at them. They said since I was brought here by escorts they just made me shower and when I did they would walk by and peek at me to see what I was doing. I felt so violated and they seemed very perverse and malicious in their ways. A woman that was already in the room went a got a Polaroid camera and took my picture. When you come in and put it up on a bulletin board with your name and what "family" you were in for everyone to see. I called it the Victim Board. My "buddy" then walked me around and showed me the place. It was a group of scared and brain washed kids smiling and praying. I tried to talk to people but they just looked away and I wondered why they didn't talk back it's because they couldn't they were new at this school too and they couldn't talk to people who were there under three months. It was called “blackout” and I was put on three months blackout which meant I couldn’t talk to anyone who wasn’t at the school for over three months. That night at dinner I freaked out and walked out of my “families” room.

I was screaming and cursing and banging on the windows and floors that this was wrong and I needed to call my parents to get me out of here. That was the first night I met Tommy [Cummings]. He acted like he ran the place at first glance he seemed to be thinking oh great here's another one. It was very clear he loves the power he has over the children in The Family Foundation School. They sent two girls from another family to talk to me but I wouldn't have it. Tommy [Cummings] restrained me and told me he was a cop and could do whatever he wanted to me and that I have no say. That night I was put in the "quiet room" by Tommy and four other men. I received a number of bruises from that restraint and I had no idea there was so much more to come. Everyday was constant hell I was extremely suicidal and non-compliant. They would not let me call my parents or anyone for that matter. I would tell them that this is child abuse and I was in so much emotional pain I started to hurt myself against walls, or anything for that matter and scratch myself until I bled.  

Throughout my stay I was restrained and put in the "quiet room" more times than I can remember. It was always very cold and they would never let me use the bathroom or even give me a blanket. I was so severely depressed and lonely all the time some students would ask the teachers if they could talk to me and cheer me up. I remember one boy asked permission to speak with me and he came up to me at my desk after I had a “fit”. I was so groggy and I was sobbing heavily he said something like "I have been here for a very long time and I have never seen someone more depressed with this situation than you. Some people don't belong here but we don't have a choice" He advised me to go along with the program to make my life there easier on me. I felt so helpless and soon started numerous negative contracts which meant associating with people I was supposed to because of my black out or talking about the outside world and “war storying” which means talking about being defiant at home or times you used drugs and/or alcohol. I was not an addict and still am not but I did listen in and did not report these conversations to staff.

I can recall two events specifically in which I engaged in this type of “defiant” behavior. One kid and I would conspire to runaway and he would gather others to join us in our plan. I could not branch out to find others because I was too heavily watched. Another situation a boy would always try to talk with me and he would try to get my attention by tapping on my shoulder which was forbidden(boys cannot touch girls). I later decided to send a note to that kid thanking him for his concern but there was nothing he could do and how I was going to commit suicide If I couldn't find a way out. Everyone knew me there and would hear me scream and cry. They said I was the most miserable kid there at the time. I tried to run away but was caught but one of the search dogs and brought back and they promised me I could then speak with my mother but it never happened.

Joe Petriella had dislocated my shoulder during my stay. He was talking to me and I started to walk away he grabbed my back pack and pulled me back hard. He told me he wasn't done speaking with me and continued to yell and scream at me. They would force to me to eat food that would make me sick and from this horrific food I gained 40 pounds in about two months.

The staff was very verbally abusive and seemed to love the power they had over all of us. Most of their staff are recovering addicts of drugs, alcohol and sex. These people are not qualified to treat or teach children. They decided to send me to a psychiatric ward in late April where my parents decided to take me home after I told them the abuse I endured. I didn't adjust very well when I came back I started to do drugs then which I didn't do prior to the family school and I had so much hate against my family I couldn't be around them. I was recently diagnosed with Post Dramatic Stress Disorder on top of other things I have been diagnosed with such as Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder.

I have many issues with trust and It's very hard for me to have relationships with people because of this. I do not trust my family and do not love them because of this situation which just topped off my previous hate for them. I am deeply scarred from this experience and just want to shut this place and others like it down for good. This place has ruined me.

Submitted By: Rebekah Silverman