St. Augustine, FL
MY HARD TIME AT CASA BY THE SEA...
I thought that you would like to hear from someone who didn't
love it there...
Hi, my name is Sarah and I spent 2.5 years at the behavior modification
facility that is called Casa by the Sea. My first day was January
3, 1999, and I didn't get to go home until the end of May 2001.
I was so upset when I first arrived that I was unable to eat
for two weeks. Finally, they had one of the male staff force feed
me by holding me down and shoving food down my throat, which continued
even after I vomited. I started out in the Courage family, which
consisted of a group of girls who where there for various reasons,
including drugs, sex, violence, run away, etc. As far as I could
tell, all I had done was smoke cigarettes, and get bad grades.
I spent about the first two months of my time in the worksheet
room because I spoke out of turn, or didn't fall to the ground
and hide my face in time when the boys passed. Apparently it is
considered wrong to look at a guy, which is something that it
took me a year to get over when I got out.
All schooling was self study. Most of the books were ok, but
the math books really sucked, it took me like 8 months to get
through one chapter of Algebra because I didn't understand the
teachers attempts to tutor me. Every family group has a "case
manager" and my first one was Imelda, who stole things that
my parents sent me. At least half of the books they sent were
never given to me, THREE graphing calculators were stolen.
Most of my items that were confiscated from me when I got there
were missing when I left, the bin that my stuff was in was somehow
gone and my stuff was in a laundry basket. I remember one day
when a new girl in our family ran away, and we were forced to
stand in the seminar room all day facing the wall with our noses
like an inch away. I never made it to level five or six, and found
it almost impossible to get to levels 3 and 4.
I had to stop brushing my hair because my red hair got everywhere
and I was unable to get all of it out of my brush. When I had
to live in a room with a girl who had scabies is when it got really
bad because I got it too and was forced to be quarantined and
wear an awful smelling cream that I still have nightmares about.
I still wake up in the middle of the night thinking that we have
to go outside for a headcount, and I even dream in Spanish at
times. I was once sent out to the gynecologist and was told that
I had Gonorrhea, which was impossible because I was a virgin,
and had never come into contact with anyone who had that, but
of course I had to pay a high price for that visit. I was forced
to pay with my college money for all of the school's fees, which
left me nothing to go to school on. I was forced to go through
seminars every month, and found that if I was unwilling to comply
with the program I would never get to go home. I was once put
on what they called a "challenge" where I was not allowed
to speak at all, and was only allowed to non-verbally communicate
with another student and was required to do everything that she
told me to do. I was told that it was for my own good. I have
so many emotional scars from my time there that I will never be
able to move passed. I was constantly used as an example by the
administration when we had facility meetings as what not to do,
and how not to act, and what was wrong with me. I still constantly
think that I can't do anything right because when I was at Casa,
I never could.
My parents were so convinced that they had to keep me away from
my friends that when I got out, I had to go to a different school,
and was not allowed to socialize until I turned 18. I sometimes
wake up hearing the tapes on the "World's 100 Greatest People"
or the "World's 100 Greatest Books" that I had to listen
too for hours every day until I was able to figure out how the
rules worked. They finally had to send me to "PC-1"
because I had been there for so long that they were sick of dealing
with me. Then a month and 1/2 later I was woken by one of the
"mamas" and told that I was going on a home pass, but
that I could not tell anyone. Why not?
Because I was a special case, and there was more to it, I just
didn't know at the time...When I was at the airport I was given
paperwork and plane tickets, in it I found a letter from my parents
to the administration thanking them for letting me go through
the last seminar in May so that I could come home for good. When
I arrived back at Casa for the last two weeks of my stay, I was
forced to write a 5000 word essay on the importance of being obedient,
because I had told my friends that I was going home. I still don't
understand why I should have hidden the fact that I was going
home and that I was happy about it! I needed to say goodbye to
my friends and prepare them for the fact that I was leaving. I
still wish that I had been able to keep in contact with some of
them. We all went through so much together that we should keep
in touch. If anyone was there during the times that I was, please
e-mail me. I think that the only way that we will ever be able
to get over the things that happened to us is for us to talk to
each other about it.
St. Augustine, FL