Monday, November 22, 2010

SIA Organization planning Convention in 2012 for survivors of abusive schools.

SIA Organization (Survivors of Institutional Abuse) will host a convention in 2012 for survivors of unlicensed girls and boys homes. The time and place will be announced in early 2011 but it is expected to take place in early 2012 in Southern California.

Los Angeles, being the media capital that it is, is a prime place for survivors of many homes and unlicensed schools to come together and have their story heard. It will also be healing and empowering to meet others that will validate what survivors have been through collectively.

The inspiration for this convention is rooted in the successful reunions that have been held by survivors of other reform schools across the country. Survivors of Victory Christian Academy held their reunion in August 21, 2010 where a tree was planted on the property that once housed VCA in memory of Carey Dunn, and other victims, who have died as a result of abuse or injury incurred at unlicensed and abusive youth facilities. Survivors of New Bethany, which was closed following an investigation into the death of Guy Richardson, held their reunion around the same time.

A video posted of the VCA reunion drew interest from survivors of other homes, including New Bethany, Hephzibah House, New Horizons, and the Victory Girls Home in Florida (no relation to VCA in Ramona). The dedication and enthusiasm of survivors to get the word out on the abuse still happening in many of these facilities has inspired us to work together.

We have done a lot on our own but more can be accomplished if we work together.

If you are a survivor and would like to be involved in the planning of this convention, please visit or contact:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Reactions for 'They Didn't Forget'

visit to read more comments about this video.

There are a few people who keep checking this blog but, by and large, all the action has switched to facebook. Partially because you can't get kicked off! Also, I like the idea that other people, unrelated to churches or this issue, can casually notice that a friend has been a victim, or survivor, and learns more about the issue of abuse by religious officials than if they visited a niche website.

I don't even give the YouTube address much business beyond embedding it on blogs and profiles. There are more comments about 'They Didn't Forget' at facebook's causes than YouTube.

Here's a sampling:

"This makes me so angry. I hope all these victims find closure one day. I am sure their PTSD will always haunt them. Torture and emotional rape...all in the name of God." Dwayne D.

"I'd like to revisit my reform school behind the controls of a monster bulldozer. Unfortunately, it's located in the Dominican Republic. Good work, Dwayne." Julia Scheeres

"What happened in this school was very disturbing and has shaped the character of so many. I pray that we can transform the pain and trauma into the strength of who we really are inside, courageous women full of compassion and peace."
Christa Munsell Baschung

There are other comments as well, including one heartfelt comment from a survivor of New Bethany's boy's homes.

Causes asks the question, 'What does this video mean to you?'. So, I answered it!

"This video matters to me because of the reactions. It shows there are others who have been affected and not just a hobby horse of one or two individuals. This is an issue that does affect people throughout the country.

If this is truly a billion dollar industry there must be rising groundswell of people, feeling unrecognized because of the lack of church, media, and government concerns, that grow more and more everyday. Of course, they can't take action because of attitudes that, in some cases, were literally beaten into them. Little things like saying 'you're wrong' or the reality that you have to find a political solution since church leaders, and even some children's advocates, aren't going to do anything about because they're afraid of appearing anti-religious. This means we have to take the human wreckage and literally put it in the face of those who would rather not comment. That's what this short video does.

HR911, which would have regulated these homes on a national level, appears dead in the Senate. If you look at who voted against it, it was predominately along party lines. Democrats tended to vote for regulation while most republicans voted against it. And yet, even victims of homes are shy about addressing that twist in the plot because no one wants to be called a 'liberal'---not even liberals want to be called liberals it seems!

Then there's the 'Movie of the Week' syndrome. People shy about telling their stories because they're either afraid of retribution or fear that putting their story in public would rob them of their opportunity of selling their story. Huh? Before the story can be sold, it first has to break press and become a topic of national debate. Seriously, I've met more than one like that.

The Victory story alone requires the story of six people to get a thorough understanding of how the homes came about, how they closed, and how Palmer, no longer running homes, probably because of the vigilance of survivors, now finds himself working as an escort taking teens from their parents to the various homes.

The most disturbing part is how many I've met who have confirmed a suspicion of mine. That some who were sent to the home had already been abused, or molested, by family members or church officials. One of the victims in the Bob Gray scandal revealed, in her deposition, that after she became pregnant (not by Gray) she was immediately sent off to Lester Roloff's Bethesda Home and her boyfriend shipped off to Jerry Falwell's complex in Lynchberg, VA.

It's like a throwback to the days when rich people would send their problem children far away so they'd stop being an embarrassment to their families. Some of these places are a veritable 'house of secrets' and I'm surprised more child advocates aren't looking into the abuses reported from these homes.

In the long run, it will probably be a long run. . .

As the number of people grow who aren't afraid to tell their story in public, perhaps we will see a gradual turn not just against these places but for some type of regulation.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Survivors of Institutional Abuse launch a movement.

Survivors of Victory Christian Academy, an unlicensed girls home that
operated in Ramona, California, until it was closed because of abusive
practices in 1992, held a reunion on school property on August 21,

Video of the reunion premiered last week on YouTube and
received praise from JESUS LAND author, Julia Scheeres. Scheeres,
whose memoir chronicled her time at a teen behavioral modification
center in the Dominican Republic, wrote, on her facebook profile, "I
would like to revisit my reform school behind the controls of a monster

Survivors of New Bethany and Hephzibah House also expressed solidarity
with the VCA women and are planning their reunions as well.

HR911, which was due to be discussed in the Senate this year but
appears dead, would regulate homes like Victory Christian Academy,
Hephzibah House, and New Bethany.

Jodi Hobbs, the woman responsible for organizing the reunion, has
formed the non profit organization, Survivors of Institutional Abuse,
which aims to unite victims of the different homes for healing and

Carey Dunn, a fifteen year old girl, was killed on VCA property in
1998. Heather Tierney, who was locked in a small closet called 'the
Get Right Room', recalls hearing helicopters on the day Carey was
crushed by a stack of plywood while doing construction on the home.
"I thought they were hear to rescue me." she remembers.

The women planted a tree in memory of Carey Dunn, and others who
suffered abuse, or death, at homes like Victory Christian Academy.

View 'They Didn't Forget':

Facebook: 'They Didn't Forget' at facebook causes.

YouTube: 'They Didn't Forget' at YouTube.

Survivors of Institutional Abuse: