Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)





THEFAMILYSCHOOLTRUTH.COM NOTE: This survivor uses the term "The Family".  Before The Family Foundation School became a school, the facility was simply called The Family.

I attended FFS from the age of 13-18. A full 4 years. To take this opportunity to tell you my story is also opening up a flood gate that I shut and walked away from years ago. I walked out if The Family on my graduation day and never once turned my head back. Now, 12 years later, I am asked to tell my story. It is not a happy story as many are not.

I was 13 years old. I was a virgin and I had never sipped alcohol or tried any drugs. My faults were the desire for freedom and my inability to conform into a religion I did not believe in. I lived in a strict home and was not allowed to go to friend’s house or have friends over. My only freedom was use of the telephone. My mother is a mentally ill and was always very physically abusive. When my brother and I were younger she used to tie us to chairs in the kitchen so she didn’t have to take us to the grocery store with her. When I would come home from the bus in a blizzard she wouldn’t be home and I was not allowed a key so I would freeze. I was adopted as a baby by this evil family.

I was told at the age of 2 that I was not their child and at 11 that they didn’t want me anymore and they were going to “send me back”. The horrors at home go on and on but that is not what you are here for.

I spent a lot of time rebelling from my “parents” rule. I ran away several times. I ran to save my life. Each time I had been beaten so badly that I landed in a hospital. I had friend’s mothers call the police when I was at their house to evaluate my condition. My mother was quick to say my brother did it, tho it was her. Once I lay down at a friend’s house with a concussion and was unconscious for over 14 hours. My parents had decided that they did not want to be parents anymore and found “The Family” because, as my mother put it, “we are legally responsible for you until you are 18”.

I did not know I was going anywhere. I was called out of school to the office where my drama queen mother had half of the local police department waiting with her “in case I tried to fight her”. Ridiculous! I had never fought back thru any of the beatings. This was over kill! I was taken to a gynecologist (under direction of the school) because they wanted to know if it was possible I was pregnant and my mother wanted to know if I had been sexually active. I freaked out and would not let the Dr. Examine me and my mother tried to direct the Dr. to “tie me down if he had to”. Naturally the doctor did not. The next step to satisfy The Family was to get me evaluated by a psychiatrist. I had to spend a week in a psychiatric hospital for a “full” evaluation. Even those doctors were not fooled.

They told my parents that I did not belong there and actually suggested to my mother that she seek help. Well, she didn’t like that at all. As they took me to the car they had my bags packed and I was disposed of at The Family.

It was traumatic. Being stripped of one’s whole self. Every belonging, every picture, every CD, letter, all my clothes, all taken from me. It was clear that I had left one nightmare only to enter another. It was 6 months before I was allowed a phone call. I was only allowed to speak to my parents “yay”. I did my best to keep my nose clean but it was a full year of me being accused of being a slut, a drug addict and an alcoholic that was unbearable. I was “protecting my disease” by not owning being one of those things. So I was stripped of what self I did have at that young age and they wanted to replace me with one of these labels? It made no sense to me at all. I ran away and got restrained like everyone else. That was life for us.

The sanctions varied and one was only worse than the other. You weren’t allowed to associate with the opposite sex without being accused of being a slut but they threw a dance every freaking month and made you dance together. It was simply crazy. Then the next day they would have a huge table topic about anyone’s lustful feelings from the night before. If you danced with a boy you were a slut if you didn’t you couldn’t control your “disease”, this disease that they had invented for me in the first place.

Meal time was my biggest horror. This soon led to them labeling me an anorexic and eventually bulimic. They served fish more than any place I can imagine and I have a deadly seafood allergy. If I refused to eat the seafood I was put in the corner and the same exact plate was brought out at every meal until I ate it. I soon learned that even if it grew mold they would continue to bring the same plate. I was stood up and yelled at for not eating because I was insulting the cook and be grateful I had food and all that jazz (Paul was a big fan of leading these table topics and yelling in my face so close and violently I was covered in his spit). Every time I ate the seafood I was rushed to the hospital in anaphylactic shock.

My parents were told that I had asthma to explain the hospital visits. I never had asthma before. But they believed it. I was not surprised. I have other food allergies that cause me to vomit uncontrollably. One of these is mushrooms. They started serving these awful veggie burgers made mostly of mushrooms. The reactions didn’t stop them from forcing this on me. I would be vomiting all over the table and told I was manipulating to not eat something I didn’t like. Then I was bulimic because I was throwing up.

Moving on to the other horrors of my 4 years there, we were all forced to impose sanctions and punishment on each other. This was simply sick. To live with yourself after being forced to abuse a peer us unbearable. The visions that I still have from that make me, literally, sick. There was no choice in the matter. Many times I refused and found myself on the receiving end of the abuse myself. If someone ran away we were to chase them, tackle them and restrain them. Many students, myself included, spent a few evenings wrapped in a blanket and duct tape. We were forced to sit with students wrapped and watch them suffer. There was no release from the abuse.

The director (Tony [Argiros]) wouldn’t even let restrained students sleep. He would wake them violently. There was no use of restroom provided to the restrained student. He would tell them that if they were going to act like animals they would be treated that way and they subsequently would have to eventually relieve themselves while wrapped. If you told your parents what was going on the school said you were manipulating and lying. Every letter sent home was read and most rejected. Only letters that had the “I love you tone” and the “you saved my life by sending me her please leave me here and give The Family more money” were released to the parents. 11 years after I left The Family I found a folder with letters sent home. 2 of them were actually written by me. The rest were not in my hand writing. Many of these letters admitted to things I did not do. I always wondered when I finally left why family friends and relatives thought I was a heroin addict and a thief. I found out last year.

The things admitted to in these letters are things that I still have very little comprehension of. I have never been on heroin. I never stole from my family. But, these letters signed with my name told them I did. These letters admitted that I physically abused my family (yeah right) and they were clear to mention that I was manipulative and a liar. This only fed the control the school had over them.

I was visited every couple of months by my parents. Even when I was “allowed” to go home for the weekends by the schools opinion, my parents did not take my home once. I was taken to visit my grandmother but other than that I was not taken anywhere. I was a Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior at The Family. I graduated finally and was allowed to leave. I walked out of my graduation and never looked back. I repressed most of my memories of the stay consciously. I have nightmares still. The effects of the torture have not faded completely and I had many problems in the years following my stay. I find it difficult to sustain relationships both romantic and friendships. The lifelong friends I do have were my friends before I “disappeared”. The handful of people allowed close to me are the only I trust. I have major trust issues. I do not trust men at all. I have been described by those closest to me as a Pit-bull. I am protective of the friends and family I do have. I am guarded beyond belief toward anyone not in my inner circle.

I have been told I am the toughest person most people who meet me know. I am beyond loyal “if” I let you in. I have since lost any and all relationship that ever would have been possible with my parents. Although I put more effort into holding on to them than I should have it was eventually in vain. I have a beautiful daughter. And when the pattern of abuse that I lived with started between her and my mother I severed the relationship completely. I admit I stuck around and received many more beatings both physical and emotional from her until I finally made that stand.

Today I am a successful VP of a major corporation. It took me many years to get where I am. I took years of heeling, years of searching. I was not prepared by any means to enter the world. I was taught that talking to boys made me a slut. I was taught that my personal safety and my body were not important. I was taught that I was to be subservient. I was taught to be abused which led me into many horrible relationships. I was not taught self worth. I was not prepared for college.

I was not taught how to have, sustain, or end, if need, be relationships. I was not taught to love. I was not taught to stand up for myself. I was taught to lay down and die. I was taught that I was worthless, identifiable only by a disease I did not have. Imagine for a moment that your only identity of yourself was false and you were thrown to the world on your own. How lost I was. I still have not completely found myself. I am now a much tougher person than I was the years following my stay at The Family. I took many emotional and physical beatings before enough was truly enough. I still struggle with letting people who are not good for me go. I hold onto relationships I have because of my fears of abandonment.

When I was dragged up to the woods and left there that is exactly what happened. It affects me still. I have serious trust issues. I cannot be so much as sitting at the same table as someone eating seafood. This shouldn’t be a problem but I cannot bear to be that close to those experiences. I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. I have not slept more than a 4 hour night since going to The Family. The panic attacks are so severe that I actually am under the care of a cardiologist because I have had what are assumed to be minor heart attacks. I am only 31. I should not have these problems. I have gotten treatment for PTS. It did help a little but I am not in control of the anxiety by any means.

The money…… The Family helped my parents drain all of my accounts. They also empowered my parents to steal what money I had left for college and starting my life. They believed that my “disease” would not use the money wisely. So my parents stole it. I had a fund left to me by my great aunt. She never had children and left all of the great nieces and nephews her money to assist them in starting their lives. $270K vanished and I was never provided and explanation of what it was spent on. That money did not pay for my “education” (abuse) at The Family. My inheritance from my grandmother did that. I was disposable from the start with my family and they found an organization sick enough to reinforce and encourage their sickness.

I was at The Family from 91-95. I went to purchase a house last year and learned that I had a mortgage already. Apparently I mortgaged my parents’ home in 94. It will take almost 2 years to clear that up IF I can find the strength to press charges that would put my parents in prison for @30years (according to law enforcement). The Family teaches one thing. No child is of value. They are all disposable and to be taken advantage of for personal and financial gain. If you have a child at The Family please go get them. Go today before it is too late. If you are thinking about sending your child to The Family, I beg you to find another way! Lives are ruined there. Souls are destroyed and self worth crushed.

Submitted By: S. H.