"The Worse Experience of My Life"
Hi, my name is
Melanie and I was sent to Casa by the Sea when I was fifteen years
old, I was there for 11 months and then sent to “Tranquility Bay” in
Jamaica for another year and a half. Before I was able to return
back home. It was the worst experience of my life. All I had done
was get bad grades and talk back to my parents. It was a last resort
I was told that I would not be able to go home for good until I
graduated from the program or turned 18. No matter what I do I still
cannot get those memories out of my mind. To this day I still have
nightmares about it.
When I came home
from school. Waiting for me November 12,1999 was my mom and the
police, I was told that I was going to a nice fun "boarding school"
and that it was going to be a great learning experience. They showed
me the pamphlets and it looked ok, or so I thought. That night two
large men, who were there to “escort me”, waked me up. When we
arrived at Casa By the Sea, I was introduced and told to strip, they
went through my belongings I felt so violated. I was then handed a
uniform and told to dress.
I was then escorted
by a level 4, and shown around the compound. I was then taken to my
room, which had two bunk beds by each wall and a tile step with a
cot; five to six girls in one room. I was the introduced to the
Alliance family. There I was told all the rules. When a boy passes
you were not allowed to look at them. Each time you walked by anyone
it was a rule to say compromiso (excuse me). We were only allowed to
speak Spanish. It took me awhile to understand the "mamas, my case
worked Imelda." If we did not we were punished. There were no
razors, mirrors we were only allowed to wear sandals that way it
would be harder for us to runaway. We had to ask in Spanish to go to
the bathroom get up to throw something out, stand, sit, talk, asked
to leave your room, etc. Our mail was read going out or coming in.
My belongings and packages my mom sent me were never given back to
me when I left.
The first few weeks
were hard I got in trouble a lot, and were sent to the worksheet
room listening to books on tape. I would then be quizzed on what I
heard and if you did not get them all right you were sent back to
the worksheet room. They made us sit up straight on the edge of the
chair, hands folded in front of you starring at the wall for 8-24
hours at a time listening to the tapes. It was horrible. Also, if
you didn’t do as you were told. I was forced to lay on my stomach
with my chin up, or touching the pavement, hands tied behind our
backs. They would force us to lie in this position for hours,
sometimes a few days, until they felt we learned our lesson. Also,
had to right a thousand word essays about how we learned our lesson.
It was torture if you did not follow these rules or they felt you
were being defiant they would beat you; the girls didn’t get beat as
bad as the boys. I know of several girls including myself hat had
been raped, and tied up for hours until they were done with us. If
we spoke about or wrote to our parents about it we were punished the
same way again and again.
Every night we had
to write up our reflections for the day what you learned in-group,
from feedback about your character. We had to finish them and turn
them in to our "mamas," before we were able to take a shower or get
ready for bed. The water was always ice cold and we were an allotted
only 5 minutes. Then lights out by 9 o'clock.
It was also
mandatory for each student to attend seminars. Discovery was the
first seminar it lasted three days. They did everything in their
power to mentally and emotionally manipulate, or try to break you.
If you did not pass the seminars you were unable to move up to the
The last two months
I was at Casa by the Sea, all the girls were placed in doublewide
trails bunk beds lined up on each wall. Two families to one side of
the trailer. They put all four families in one trailer, with 4
showers stall and four toilets. When we were escorted to our
classrooms the people who worked there would search through all your
belongings looking for anything that you were not to have.
I was pulled from
class and was told I would be leaving Mexico. I was so happy until I
realized I wasn't going home instead I was then escorted to Jamaica.
I thought Casa By The Sea was bad until I reached Jamaica. If you
broke a rule you were whipped then sent to worksheets and denied
food or water until you learned your lesson.
I thought being at
Casa By the Sea was torture. When I arrived at Tranquility Bay I
realized that they
had most of the same rules and punishment techniques as Casa By the
Sea had. However, we were not aloud to wear anything on our feet,
forced to sleep outside on the ground without a blanket or pillow.
The facilities goal was to manipulate us, and forced us to practice
their religion. Or be punished for disobeying. When I had returned
home I was completely shut down, I. wouldn’t speak to anyone for
months. When I was home I was worse than I was before being sent
into the program. I had completely shut down emotionally, and
physically I am still trying to this day to move on from the
experience I have major trust issues with anyone let a lone my
parents for sending me there. It was the most horrible experience of
my life. The memories will always be with me, and I have to deal
with it everyday. If anyone who was there during 1999 thru 2002.
Please e-mail me. It will help dealing with it to talk to someone
who was there and knows how things were.
Los Angeles, CA