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NEW BEGINNINGS (AKA MARVELOUS GRACE GIRLS ACADEMY) IN PACE, FL & RABEKAH GIRLS ACADEMY IN TX

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Survivor account--rabekah girls academy (tx)

By jennifer

 

I give HEAL permission to post my statement for others to see...Everything in my statement is true! My name is Jennifer ------ and I had my rights violated at this home BEFORE they moved to FL, from Texas.  I was in the Rabekah Girls Academy, in 1999 I was in the home for one year and six months, I was taken out of the home in March of 2001, and while I was there Bro. MacNamara had wrongly accused me of stealing a watch one Sunday morning and i got 5 (licks) swats with a thick plastic board with holes in it every five minuets that I did not have the watch, they found the watch 2 hours later in another girls room on the other side of the dorm and all he had to say to me was sorry, my whole butt was badly bruised and it stayed that way for 3 weeks. Not only that, I was on " red-shirt " ( a punishment ) I was made to stand against a wall all day and was not allowed to sit at all, no red-shirt was. I had to use the restroom and I raised my hand and waited for a student helper to answer me and she was told to ignore me completely by Brother Mac himself, I then took it upon myself to go to the restroom, and then I was pined down to the floor by 10 other girls, I had to mess myself. I did run away from the home twice while I was there and I was gone for almost two weeks the first time and just a few hours the second time, the second time Brother MacNamara picked me up in his van and took me back to the dorm there were 6 other girls waiting for me and they were told to drag me out of the van and use force if necessary, I was punched and kicked and one girl slammed my face into the gravel, and Bro. Mac just stood there watching like nothing was wrong. I was given " licks " for looking at the guys in the other homes while other girls just got demerits, and the "helper's" would literally only give me demerits for every little thing...like if i sneezed they would write me up for talking....or if I  was not against the wall (while on red-shirt) they would write me up, and even when I was supposed to be reading my Bible they would write me up for being always from the wall under Brother MacNamara's orders. I do feel that the Bible was shoved upon me, and I refuse to let them get away with their bull-crap lies to other parents and girls.   I have seen the contract that my mother had to sign before I went to the home, and the one part I remember is ( when the student gets out of line will use corporal punishment ) ( in the form of running laps, and swats)   my mother agreed and never asked me if i was ok with it, but my mother was abusive to me when i was little. I was 13 when i entered the girls home and 14.1/2 when i left. After I got out of the home I was still getting in trouble by Mrs. Mac Namara for talking to the guys in the Lighthouse Home for Young men.....I was not at the home anymore and she had no place to correct me.  Please don't let this abuse continue to go on.          Sincerely, Jennifer ---------

 

Survivor account--new beginnings (fl)

BY Amanda

 

            Everything in my statement is true. I give HEAL permission to use my statement. My name is Amanda. I went to New Beginnings as a sixteen year old girl and left on September 30, 2005. While I was at New Beginnings, Brother Mac, as he had us call him, immediately attacked me mentally, as well as physically. I was very pale when I went there and was only about 110 pounds. Brother Mac did not want me to be pale. He made me tan with oil all over me and would not allow me to wear sun block at all. I got burned so badly it was torturous. My knees were purple from being so badly burned and if I bent them, the skin would tear and I would bleed. He thought it was funny and would make me tan six hours a day even after being so badly burned and would display me in front of all of the girls who also laughed at me, despite the horrible pain I was in, as well as another pale girl who was also horribly burned head to toe. We were the only pale girls in the home and after a few weeks of having us tan six hours a day, he finally stopped. Part of what makes this experience so wrong is that I had told him he needed to bring this up with my mother, who highly opposes tanning due to her own skin damage and he refused to ask for her permission and would not allow me to inform her about this on the phone or in letters.

 SOMETHING ALL PARENTS NEED TO KNOW: NEW BEGINNINGS LISTENS TO PHONE CALLS AND READS LETTERS. THEY DISCONNECT PHONE CALLS IF NEGATIVE TREATMENT IS MENTIONED OR ANYTHING NEGATIVE ABOUT THE HOME. THEY ALSO DISPOSE OF LETTERS EXPRESSING ANY COMPLAINTS ABOUT BAD TREATMENT. THEY ONLY ALLOWED US TO SPEAK OF POSITIVE THINGS IN OUR LETTERS AND NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO CONFIDE ABOUT HARSH TREATMENT OF ANY SORT OR THEY WOULD BE PUNISHED OR UNABLE TO CONTINUE THE PHONE CALL OR SEND OUT THE LETTER. The other thing Brother Mac attacked me about was how slender I was. He would repeatedly insult me about my weight, accusing me publicly of being anorexic when I was quite healthy and forced me to eat more than my father, who is one hundred and sixty pounds larger than I and a foot and three inches taller. They would have us drink at least one glass of water with every meal and would have us wait one hour to be able to go to the restroom. Since I was so small and eating so much, I would cry because I had to go so badly. Sometimes, I would even go on myself. I had to hold my throwup down after every meal because anyone who puked, whether they were sick or not, got in a lot of trouble. Brother Mac regularly preached about a girl with acid reflex and said that she was cursed by God. One Girl had a sensitive stomach and had a hard time handling so much food. She even puked in front of them, no fingers down the throat and they would punish her.

 When I got home from boarding school, I was at least thirty pounds heavier and I lost twenty pounds in the first two weeks. While I had been at boarding school, I had noticed that I had diarrhea every day and went number two about six to ten times a day. I had informed Brother Mac about this problem and he had dismissed it as if it were nothing. This was not a problem while I was there because I was eating so much, but when I got home and ate a normal amount of food, I still went to the bathroom just as often and it became hazardous. I wound up going to the doctors for it and I developed a bowel problem due to Brother Mac's special form of abuse that involved forcing me to eat so much that it caused me horrible pain oftentimes. My doctor had told me that going that often was dangerous and should have been handled by the boarding school accordingly.

Another issue was sleep. While on tour, if we did not perform to his standards, we would have to stay up until two o'clock or later practicing and still wake up at about five o'clock or earlier the next morning. Sometimes, he would not let us sleep at all and then tell us we could sleep on the bus everyday while we were traveling to different areas. Many of the girls could not fall asleep sitting up and we were not allowed to lay on the floor or lean against someone else. In fact, we were not allowed to speak to each other, laugh, hum, whistle, or sing unless they permitted us to, which was only for a two hour range every Friday, which was supervised and nothing displeasing was to be said. Displeasing things to be said were talk about missing family, family at all, experiences from our past, music, movies, tv, really anything else from the "world". Really, all we were allowed to talk about was the Bible or how great boarding school was, or how great Brother Mac was.

We had a punishment, one of the most dreaded by the girls, called discipline, or red shirt if you went to Rebecca. This is when you get more than ten demerits, which are very easy to get. You have to spend about one week at least spending every free moment of your day standing with only the tip of your nose against the wall, eyes open and forward the whole time, legs straight and not allowed to move, arms bent behind your back and you are not allowed to raise your hand, which is how you get their attention to ask to go to the bathroom. Many times, girls would be on the wall for about five to eight hours a day and also would have to wake up earlier than everyone else and go to sleep two hours later. Many times, they would have to hold their wastes in the whole time, sometimes going on themselves, or crying because of the pain. Girls on discipline could only eat a bowl of beans and have a glass of water for every meal and are not allowed any other food group, which is malnourishment.  On bus rides, Brother Mac would only stop every five hours for bathroom breaks, whether or not after a meal.

Here's a fun fact about me: I have a bad case of asthma for which I have been hospitalized for a twelve hour period before. While at boarding school, they would often push me just as hard as everyone else and were informed by my parents that I have asthma and I had a prescription for two inhalers, which they did not allow me to carry with me, not even during physical education. One day, I had such a bad asthma attack that my whole face, as well as my hands, and my wrists turned purple and I was almost completely numb and could not sit up, lift anything with my hands, talk, or open my eyes, nor could I swallow and I was drooling and all they did for me was give me some coffee. Keep in mind that earlier on in the asthma attack, they had given me my inhaler, which did not lessen the intensity of the attack.  This is not the only asthma attack that I had while I was there and they did absolutely nothing for me. I had about ten a day because of how hard I had to work and the heat.

Finally, I'm going to tell you about the work days. Brother Mac thought it would help build character to have the girls work for about twelve hours in a single day (sometimes several days in a row) in the Florida heat and would only allow about two drinks in this period. By the end of the day, I would be badly dehydrated, as well as in bad pain from lifting large logs repeatedly, heavy boxes, scrubbing a dirty building until it passed his test, which would mean that there were absolutely no marks on that whole building, which would take about ten to twelve hours of elbow grease straight.

I had the pleasure of graduating about a month before I actually got to go home and he decided since I was available during the school day that he would work me twice as hard and twice as long and twice as often as everyone else.

I think a big reason why the girls were always ill is because we were only allowed three minute showers every day and no one can get clean that fast. If you took more than that they would come in and humiliate you in front of the whole dorm and drag you out naked.

Mrs. Mac was no better than Brother Mac, who told us once as a group that if we see one of the girls running away, we should do whatever necessary to catch them, whether it be tackling them, punching them, throwing rocks at them (she said big rocks) while they were running.

I think probably the worst abuse of all, however , was their rules about contact.  This is basically their rules: no touching (which includes patting backs, hugging, shaking hands), not allowed to call family or friends, not allowed to write friends, only allowed two visits throughout the year. One day after six months and three days after nine. Many of the girls parents could not afford both, including my own. I did not get to see my siblings, friends, or extended family for the whole year. I got to see my parents after eight months. Girls are not allowed to visit friends during visits, or cousins, or close family friends and are not allowed to complain while on their visit. Brother Mac warned us that if we were to do this and he found out we would be kept an extra year, not be able to have our next visit, or talk to or write parents for a month, as well as being on discipline. We were not allowed to confide in our family about emotional distress or the other girls, as well as physical mistreatment.

Parents have to send in money to take care of certain necessities, such as shampoo, toothpaste, tooth brushes, soap, etc. My mother sent in several hundred dollars and it was not all used up by my necessities. None of the remainder was sent back to her, like it was suppose to be. Brother Mac also kept a package my cousin sent me for Christmas, some prom pictures, and stole a coat from me that my mother gave to me because it was black, leaving me without a coat that very freezing winter.

The workers mentally attacked my individuality, telling me that I could not be a Christian, that I was a heathen, that I was a slut, that I was evil, that I was an abomination for being bisexual. Everything that could be attacked was and I was not allowed to defend myself physically or mentally. I stayed in line because Brother Mac would tell me he would keep me another year or withhold my diploma and not let me graduate.

To parents, please do not send your child to a stranger. You are putting their life in these people's hands. They have caused me health issues that still exist today, as well as a horribly painful memory. This boarding school is a form of Hell for your child and would be for you as well in their position. Being miles away with no emotional support or love, with hateful and abusive people.

Survivor account--new beginnings (fl)

bY aNNI (annismith21@yahoo.com)

DECLARATION UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY

PURSUANT TO 28 USCA 1746

 I, Anni Walters, declare and state as follows:

1.  Rebekah Home for Girls/ New Beginnings Girls Academy

2.   Corpus Christi, Tx/ Pace, Fl

3.  04/01- 05/06

4.  [DECLARATIVE STATEMENT] As follows:

The New Beginnings Girls Academy in Pace, Fl ( now located in La Russel, MO.) is an abusive program. I was enrolled into the home in April of 2001, and did not leave until May of 2005. I want to share my experiences starting from day one, that not only involve me, but other girls. Some of the things I will state I was made to do, and deeply regret. I am currently dealing with depression and insomnia due to some of what I am about to tell you, and I have been out of the home for a little over 2 years. That is how much of a horrible effect this place and others similar to it can have on the people that are sent there. DO NOT SEND YOUR CHILD TO A PLACE ANYWHERE NEAR SIMILAR TO THIS PLACE, ESPECIALLY IF IT IS OUT OF STATE AND YOU CAN NOT MONITOR THEIR STAY. Please read the following carefully, and please do not hold some of these things against me. Like I said, I was made to do them, so it was not by choice.

I went into the home at the age of 14, I was sent there because my parents thought I had a bad attitude and I wasn't doing well in school. The day I got there I was arguing with my mom and Bro. McNamara (Bro. Mac) informed me that he was going to give me licks if I did not “shut up”, and that if I did not cooperate then he would have some girls come in and hold me down until I did. Just so you understand completely, I was not being remotely aggressive or physically abusive to anyone. I was just arguing with my mom because I felt like she was abandoning me.

Some things that I noticed within my first few days were the types of punishment they used. Often they used licks, but mostly a punishment called “red shirt” or “discipline”.You could get this punishment for such things as too many demerits( which were given for talking- we couldnt talk to each other except for designated itmes-, attitude, sleeping in church, doing chores wrong, things of that nature), bad attitude, cheating in school, things like that You would stand with the tip of your nose being the only part of your body that can touch the wall, and you would stand there for every hour of you free time. You were supposed to get a break every hour, but I soon learned from experience that that was not the case. We got a break whenever the helper, or the staffs “favorite and most trusted” girls, remembered to tell us to sit down, and it was usually only for like 5 minutes, which was not enough time considering how long we would have to stand there and if you turned and looked away from the wall or you didn't stand still you did not get your break which could sometimes leave you standing up for 3 or 4 hours at a time.

The home was shut down in the state of Texas, so we moved to Missouri. On the way there, we slept on the bus, and brushed our teeth with bottled water out side of the bus, we didnt shower until we got to Missouri. We were stayin with another home there in Missouri, it was a boys home and we were not allowed to even look in the same direction that the boys were in or we would be punished. Not long after that, the home was kicked out of the state of Missouri, so we packed up again, same routine and everything, and moved to Florida. Since I left they have been closed down in Florida and moved to La Russel, Missouri.

Soon after I got there Bro Mac started to tell me that I was fat ( I was a size 12/14) and he cut my portions back because he wanted me to loose weight. I was on “1/2 portions” for nearly the whole time I was there and I was constantly told that I was fat, called a heifer,and told I was lazy because I was fat.I still suffer with weight problems to this very day, and have a very low self esteem. In 2005 I was put on staff a little before I graduated, and one of the responsibilities of the staff is to get up and hour before the girls do( girls get up at 5:30 every morning), and stay up and do night duties (ill tell you about that later)for a couple of hours, which typically gave the staff around 5 or 5 ½ hours of sleep. As soon as I got on staff Bro. Mac made me get up even earlier to walk up and down the long driveway to loose weight. I was constantly tired, and often fell asleep in church or anytime that I had a moment to sit down, and was punished for that by getting my $25 paycheck cut, or not getting to do a fun activity with the staff, or getting chewed out and told that Im not right with God because I cant stay awake in church. And I was constantly getting ridiculed and told that I wasnt right with God because they thought I never ever ran their dorms right, even though I always did the best that I could considering how much down time I got, and all the girls loved me despite the things that I was made to do.

As for the night duties, the staff and the helpers(“staffs favorite and most trusted girls) had to split evenly the hours that they slept, and each person had to stay up for that designated amount of time and watch the girls so that they wouldnt get up and talk to each other and “plot to run away (quote from mrs mac)”. We were not allowed any extra time to sleep, and still had to resume all the same duties, sometimes more, as everyone else. If you were a helper or a trusted girls you did not have say in whether or not you did it, you were forced to, or you would be punished. It was ridiculous.

Once I got on the staffs trusted list, I was mmade to do a lot of things that I hated doing. I became a helper, and with that also came horrible responsibilities. When a girl ran away, we had to chase her and hold her down until she calmed down. I remember one time a girl ran away and she was on discipline and she wasnt allowed to wear black because Bro Mac thought she gothic( she wasnt) and she refused to take off her black sweater and we held her down, but couldnt get the sweater off her so Bro Mac got down there an ripped the sweater off her in the scariest way. He like straddled her and just ripped it off. That was not his place. He was never supposed to touch the girls, and that was crossing the line. I also remember a time when a girl was on discipline and Bro Mac and Mrs Mac always made fun of her for smelling bad( we had timed showers that allowed for 1 minute before the shower to get undressed, 4 minutes in the shower, and 1 minute after to get dressed again, and if you werent done by then you were dragged out by the staff no matter how embarrassed or how naked you were), and he made 4 girls(myself included) pick her up and throw her in the pool to make her take another shower. It was so rude and mean. There was also a 12 year old girl there at one time that was sexually abused in foster care and had problems with touching herself, and Bro Mac would constantly yell at her and preach at her for touching herself and tell her that she was going to hell for doing it, and all it did was make her more rebellious, and she didnt ever get any help with it, she was just pushed and pushed over the edge. Bro Mac took away all her phone calls and visits, I dont think she got a visit for over a year, maybe more. I also remember a situation where one of the girls was forced to finish all of her food on her plate, and they made me stay and watch her to make sure she ate it all, and she finally finished it and she just threw it all right back up, and she was yelled at and call a sinner and not right with God for throwing up her food. She was also put back on discipline for it.

Of course all of our phone calls and letters were screened so we could not tell our parents about this stuff or we would be punished.

I also remember a time right before I graduated, there were 2 really pale girls in my graduating class, and Bro and Mrs Mac made them tan nearly everyday for like 2 months until graduation. They both ended up very badly burned. Like with blisters and stuff.

We were also forced to sit down everyday and quote a list of scriptures for an hour. And we had to be perky and alive or we would have to start over.

I had a girl attack me with a fork one time. She came right at my neck but I blocked her hand, and Bro Mac wouldnt let me tell my parents to press charges because “she needed help, and he was gonna help her”. They finally sent her somewhere else because she stabbed a girl in the ear with a pencil, and when the police came to investigate that, I was forbidden to tell them what she did to me.

I often had to hold down the “rebellious” girls that did not want to cooperate or didnt want to be there. One time a girl refused to stand on the wall and we were visiting a church in south texas and Mrs Mac had me and Bro Mac hold her down while she spanked her with a thin plastic curtain rod thing, and did not always hit her bottom. Im surprised it didnt leave bruises.

Right before I left, Bro Mac went on another rampage about how I was a horrible staff member, and never ran my dorm right, and I was fat and lazy, and he tried to kick me out and make me leave early, but my mom wouldnt change the plane tickets. Then after all of the hurtful things he said, he called me into his office the day I was supposed to leave and told me to pray about staying to work for another year. When I told him no, he informed me that I needed to pray about it because it was Gods will for me and I cant be right with Him if I dont.I was so mad for him doing that to me.

I can honestly say that I did not see may girls leave there different. Maybe on the outside, but not on the inside. You cant help people by forcing Christianity down their throat, and you cant help someone unless they want it. That is why the success rate for homes like these is so low. If they dont want the help they wont get it. It is wrong for any parent to send their child to place like this. All it does is make your child feel abandoned and left alone. They will feel like this for a long time. My relationship with my parents is a little better but there is still a lot of resentment towards them because I feel like they abandoned me because they didnt want to raise me so they had some random people that looked legit do it.

Like I said in the beginning I am still dealing with mental and emotional issues due to post traumatic stress. I do not recommend that you send your child to a place where you can not monitor the behavior and honesty of its staff. I am still in contact with several of the girls and many of them are still experiencing the same thing that I am going through, some are going through worse. So please take heed to what I have written, and I havent even written it all. Just some of the things that I remember. I know that on the outside places like this look all fun and good, but they arent. Please take my story to heart.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope that I could help.

I give HEAL permission to use this statement. I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on September 9 , 2008.

________________________________

Anni (additional info confidential)

annismith21@yahoo.com

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