By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved
[Originally posted 10/18/2008]
Former Hephzibah House students continued to raise awareness of their allegations of abuse at the home for troubled teens in Winona Lake, IN, on Friday, Oct. 17. Using the medium of the internet, about 80 former students have reconnected and shared their stories. Many are attempting to speak out and stop the school from continuing practices former students feel are both physically and mentally abusive.
To aid in that goal, a task force of former students and concerned citizens has been formed. Presently, institutions such as Hephzibah House are not under any type of governmental regulation and have no accountability for their actions. They are virtually free to do as they wish as long as they can spin a convincing tale to parents and church supporters. Those who are ignorant of the mechanics and mind-games of abuse are unable to see through the machinations of master manipulators who have been doing this for decades, and the publicity spin sounds perfect if you don’t know better. However, once you have seen the inside of the system, you can see the buzz words for what they are and it is very obvious.
For example, there is one incident in this story which should make every reader of the article a believer. I will quote the article directly.
It’s a story Gabriella Fleury says she knows all too well. She says the treatment she endured made her feel violated.
“A man came in, he was never introduced us. We weren’t put in a gown and given a proper exam. We were in dresses. Our dresses were forced up and we had to undergo a physical, invasive vaginal exam right there at the facility,” she recalled.
This is a school full of teenaged girls. This is not a medical facility. There are no doctors or nurses present. In the incident mentioned, there is no medical exam taking place in the context. This is just a moment when a man walks into a room (where, obviously a girl and another staff member are present during some sort of interview), and the girl is forced to have a vaginal exam, apparently without adequate explanation. This is at the very least a physically abusive incident because it takes place outside any medical context, and I would say that for a teenager who is a virgin it is a sexually abusive one! There is no context under which this incident is acceptable, period. It is absolutely abusive.
Perhaps you want to think it is an isolated incident; ill-advised. And maybe the director of the school would say that they have thought better of such a practice and would never do such a thing now. Here is a greater truth. The attitude and heart that would allow such treatment of the girls is a heart of disrespect. It is a heart that thinks of these girls as worthless things that need to be beaten into shape because they are disgusting trash.
If you read more about how these girls were treated, this is, in fact, the attitude with which they were treated across the board. The setting of the entire institution was one of dehumanization and humiliation, extreme and frequent punishment, with reward for complete and absolute compliance, and sacrifice of all personality and humanity. If you can still find the founder’s writings about parenting and his attitude toward the formation of children’s character (once people began to find it online he removed it; I wish I had copied it when I first found and read it) you will find that is his attitude toward children in general. This is not a man I would trust to raise a dog, much less have the molding of my troubled teenager. In fact, he might be arrested for treating a dog the way he treats children. The ASPCA would certainly be picketing at his doorstep.
In case readers cannot tell, on this issue I am by no means unbiased. I know without a single doubt this institution is abusive. I wish these former students all success and hope they never give up as long as there is a single girl in residence at Hephzibah House.