Further Trauma

I went into lifeline in 2015 and turned 17 my first month there. I could rant for hours about the pain and shame the place put me through. However, I want to focus on one story, because I feel like it’s important for anyone else who went through something similar to know that they aren’t alone, and what they were told was wrong.

When I was in Lifeline I went to a survivors therapy group due to being sexually abused as a child. However, in said group I relayed a story from my teen years. I had been swimming with a group of friends, all but the one I was casually dating left to go change. The one who stayed with me hugged me and then put his hands into my swimsuit and inside of me. I told him to stop. Kind of trying to laugh it off, but he didn’t stop. I tried to get away, but wasn’t super forceful because I was in shock. I had told him from day one that I didn’t want to do anything like that. I wasn’t ready for it. He knew my boundaries. I then kept saying stop while half chucking, trying to not cause a scene. I was embarrassed. Ashamed. Finally, another friend started walking towards us and he stopped. When I got home I cried alone, and never told anyone until Lifeline.

After telling said story, the therapist running the group said, “If you were half heartedly saying no, not being forceful, and not really trying to physically stop them, then it wasn’t a sexual assault. You need to stop seeking attention.” I now know she was wrong. She led me to believe what happened to me was my fault. I was devastated and felt like I was just a stupid kid who lost a huge part of myself all because I couldn’t say no. I was later raped in life but reminded myself of that therapists words. I thought, “I didn’t push him off. I might have said “no, I don’t want to” a dozen times, but I never yelled no. I didn’t shove him out of the way when I tried to leave. So this whole thing must have been my fault.” I spent years thinking I lost my virginity, something important to me, to someone I barely even knew and didn’t want to lose it to. When in reality I was a survivor once again, because I never dealt with the trauma I went through as a teen and then continued to seek out people who would harm me, thinking that behavior was normal.

Even after years of healthy therapy, I still struggle with asking myself, was I really a victim? Or do I just want attention. Lifeline ruined a part of me. I’m considered a success story because I’m healthy now. I haven’t done drugs, I don’t drink, I haven’t self harmed in 7 years, I haven’t had a suicide attempt since before lifeline, and I built a life I love. However, I want lifeline to know, I want my family to know, and I want my fellow phasers to know, I did it. I healed myself. I fought for where I am. It was all me. The only role lifeline played, was just another thing for me to heal from.

Kristen McKenzie

Listen to your kids.

I was sent to lifeline in oct 2017 after a 9 day stay at the psych ward. My therapist in the psych ward convinced my parents to send me to lifeline after finding out I was smoking marijuana. Growing up in a Mormon family & being adopted caused lots of mental health problems for me. When I got to lifeline I was told I would grow up to be 3 things: an addict, dead, or homeless. As a scared 17 year old I believed them. I had 5 months before I turned 18 and decided to just “go with the flow” till I could sign myself out, as everyone had been there 9+ months already. I wasn’t allowed to talk to my parents more than one 10 minuet, monitored phone call a week. I wasn’t allowed to talk about my feelings, what was going on with staff, or anything other than basically apologizing for being a “horrible child to my family”. Once a week we would sit down as a group and call out others for their “behavior” and basically berate them on the human they were. They made me feel unseen, unheard, and worthless. Everyday group talks were glorifying drug use and sharing stories of times we used. So, only having ever smoked marijuana, I got out and developed a very severe drug addiction to lots of substances. I truly believe I would have never done any of those drugs if I didn’t go to lifeline. After 4 months of treatment my parents finally listened to me after I had a “permission” to go out and have dinner and see one of my favorite musicals with my parents. I told them of the overeating and 4 square for “exercise”, the mental abuse, degrading comments, and how they tried to diagnose me with Bipolar, severe anger issues, and degrade me as a human any chance they got. As there was no staff to tell me what to say on this permission, my parents listened and HEARD me. Everything I had shared counteracted EVERYTHING lifeline had shared with them about my treatment. They pulled me out of that program that night. And thank god they did because I was developing suicidal ideations while in “treatment”. To this day I suffer with self worth issues stemmed from lifeline. Before lifeline I was outgoing, in sports, social, and enjoyed my family. After, I still resent them a little bit to this day for sending me there and having to endure the mental and emotional trauma lifeline gave me. I love my parents don’t get me wrong, I just wished they went about helping me differently, and didn’t get sucked in to the fantasy lifeline gave them. Lifeline director Dan was very good with his words and saying just the right thing to family’s to make them believe their children where being helped. 7 years later we have lost so many beautiful people I was in treatment with to suicide/overdose. There is no help there, only more suffering.


I was only 14…

I was sent to lifeline on christmas eve of 2020…yeah you can imagine the amount of pain I was already feeling. I was sent after my 3rd suicide attempt that year. Once I was admitted the staff immediately did what they call a “shake down” they had me completely undress as 2 staff searched every inch of my body, they even had me squat and cough like in prison. I remember crying my eyes out for hours after. I was sent to lifeline after I was raped.. they knew this information yet did not respect my physical boundaries.
In lifeline I was also physically assaulted by two older girls, which they never disclosed to my mother… This is insanely illegal. They claimed I couldn’t tell my parents and threatened me with legal action since telling my mom would break “hippa law” Again I was only 14… I had no idea this wasn’t true. I remember having bruises all over my body after and received no medical care, but was told to “shut my mouth”
They also heavily medicated me as a form of control, I was too outspoken for them . I was on 5 different medications by the time I left, my pediation almost lost their mind when they found this out and referred me to a withdrawal program. I felt ill and sick for months due to this, many medical professionals since have told me I was overmedicated way to young.

Honestly, I feel scared to disclose anymore… So I wont… but let me tell you… this place is hell. Its a prison for children. I pray for all the kids that went there every night, I still scream in horror from the nightmares.

I have carried the trauma

I have carried the trauma of what happened to me two decades ago being placed in this program. I understand this is not the program that is more than likely being ran to this day because I certainly hope they have learned from their mistakes over that period of time.
In 2001 It was a “new” program, sadly my family was just income to these people because they needed to get their business off the ground. I had no business being there as it was supposedly designed as a 12 step program for teens who struggled with drugs and alcohol.
My parents were mislead about the help they offered. I suffered from depression and a severe eating disorder. At the time I was relieved to think I would be getting some help. They did nothing to help me address my eating disorder. They made me keep the bathroom door open in front of my peers when I used it, or took showers. I began to quickly gain weight because of the food being offered and complete lack of physical activity. We were stuffed in hard blue plastic chairs for hours every day with little to no physical activity besides the same Richard Simmons VHS tape they threw on from time to time to check that off their list.
I can’t even begin to explain how distressing this was to a 17 year old girl with an eating disorder.
I vividly remember staring out the window every day, hating my existence and wanting to leave. The only interesting site was to watch the Sysco truck deliver more garbage food and watch them pull away.
They didn’t help me. I felt so helpless for those 11 months.
I couldn’t cope with this program. I tried to run away which resulted in the staff threatening me to have me court ordered. One day I simply refused to go to the building. I’d had it and for some reason thought that would work. That was the last time I was allowed to go home. I was stripped of my shoes, contact with my family, and never allowed to go to my home or shadow other teens for the rest of my stay. Limiting my ability to ever phase up in the program. So you can only imagine how terrified I was of them making up whatever they had to do to get me court ordered there. The first week I was allowed a five minute visit I ended up pleading with my parents to please take me out. Suddenly I was bear hugged and violently pulled away from them by staff. They viewed it as “manipulation”.
Meanwhile they manipulated my family by lying to them about the help they offered. They silenced me over and over and didn’t allow me to speak to my family for weeks at a time. Yet would openly state in the groups that “the doors were unlocked” knowing we had nowhere to go and they would just call the police and have us hauled back.
If I left, they lost out on the thousands of dollars my parents could barely afford when they thought they were helping me.
Yes I was a teenager acting out, I’ll admit that. However, instead of throwing me in this hell hole and depleting me of my privileges, happiness, and dignity, I really could have used an arm around my shoulder telling me I was going to be alright.
We’re the kids that paved the way for the program to eventually become residential as it is today. That was not offered to us bc they were ill prepared and in need of our families funds to build it. They couldn’t or wouldn’t afford real therapists so they certainly weren’t going to supply reasonable accommodations for a teen.
They sent me home with other families, but complete strangers to me each night. Each house different, but they all had that dreaded room. The staff had instructed the family to empty a room, stick an alarm on a door and checked it off as safe to be there. We were locked in a room at night, some had mattresses to sleep on, some didn’t.
I left when I turned 18. I wasn’t going to stay there one second longer. I wasn’t offered any kind of after care therapy, nor was I prepared to handle the further damage it caused my relationship with my parents as I now resented the hell out of them for abandoning me to this place.
My last day the so called staff stood me in front of my peers, announced to them that I was considering signing myself out. They allowed my peers to berate me for my decision. Not all of them did, some were supportive, but I won’t forget the harsh words said from those who were not. It hurt.
Some teens would do things like to appease staff because they thought it would help them advance in the program.
This was my personal experience. I hate these people and have struggled to forgive them for what they did to me.
Lastly, in my stay they sent in a bishop from the LDS church, and left me to be completely alone in a room with him unsupervised. Door closed.
I didn’t know this man, what he wanted to talk me about or why he was even there. Yet he sat me down and this old man began began asking disgusting humiliating questions about what I had done in detail sexually up to that point. This never should have happened. I know it’s hard to find help for teens. Know who you are trusting them with and investing in. It was outrageously expensive at the the time, but I am the one who paid the heaviest price.

an open view

My time at lifeline was, a shift in my life. I speak from my own experience and observation. My background with spiritually: I learned a bit when I was young through my brother and had an inner knowing since then. I believe the experience I had at lifeline was meant to happen and although traumatic and heartbreaking, it was a pivotal moment in my life and I’m glad to be able to share. I am 17 years old and a senior in high school,2022.I have had substance issues and have developed bpd up to that point. I willingly suggested a treatment program to my mom and she found lifeline. I got there and instantly was greeted with 2 college aged girls, they took me in by the arm.I sat in a room for maybe an hour taking surveys and signing documents.I noticed the staff had pulled up a parent document and signed on the line where my moms signature should have been. I was always super aware and at this point I was very open and very fearful.The first day I was introduced to all the kids, they all seemed very well organized, and was introduced to Lucy. Lucy is was a current client and became my roommate for the first week. Lucy was very invasive and was allowed to bend the rules of when they got to go to bed. This applied for anyone who was on the higher levels of the program.the staff could move kids up and down on their discretion.In my room I got a thin blanket and it was probably 30 degrees for the first 5 days, mind you this is the middle of may.I was VERY anxious and shaking constantly, crying and begging to call my mom. I wasn’t even sure if It was the withdrawals at that point because of all the medications they put me on. They gave me putty and a notebook, and those very the only things I did to entertain myself while “”attending groups”” which was really just movie time. On the 3rd day Lucy stole my putty and notebook and I never saw them again. we had to keep all our belongings outside our room at night and I never saw my notebook or putty with Lucy after that so I was sure the staff just took it. I wasn’t very talkative but I started talking to Lucy at night and I really felt were she was coming from, She had such careless matter(almost drunk-like) that it made me worry about what the staff were giving her.( I am not using correct pronouns to reach maximum audience) she told me about her family and how she was in the program for 120 days, her mom, a plastic surgeon who is very close with the owners of lifeline. Around day 5 staff were acting crazy and it felt like a slight delusion because of how much they really did. The absolute gaslighting and realness of what I’m saying is true. I was completely at the hand of fear and I felt my inner child fighting. I even went as far to ask if I could talk to the main director to discuss my treatment and how it wasn’t working and that I wasn’t getting the proper therapy or care. She sat there, emotionless, with no empathy in her eyes. They brief parents on kids manipulating and saying anything to get out and I was trying to rehearse how I would even get the words out to my mom in the 10 minutes I was aloud in the week. I felt paralyzed in my thoughts and actions, taking meds and waking up again, feeling like it had been the same day all along. I went to a few groups that just didn’t feel right, one actual group I went to my friend pine caught sight of my teary eyes and frustrated distraught look. Others were going around sharing and I sat there and didn’t say a thing. Pine had written a paragraph on her arm and i couldn’t even make out what it said because the handwriting was so… frantic . She started crying and had to be taken out of the room. They ask each person when they get in to list their triggers if they have any, they put them on a big white board . They directly targeted all of these triggers and more. (Slamming doors, yelling, I’ll get more into it later.) me and many other girls were heavily medicated and I’m not even sure what they were giving us. In the middle of the night I woke up and I remember walking to the bathroom, the whole place was spinning like a disco ball. it felt like a fever dream each day. I wasn’t able to talk to a therapist till the forth day and at this point I was so terrified of everyone and everything I had a full breakdown and they gave me even more meds, then I was taking 6 “anxiety meds” during the day and 3 random pills at night. They also suggested the pills my mom sent over. I was fighting for my soul, I couldn’t let myself be under control if people that do not care about me and scream at kids trying to get help with mental health. My heart dropped when new girls came in and it was their first day, not knowing wether it was even a possibility to have their parents or anyone get them out. When the 10 minutes happened I went into lockdown and was in complete shreds of a person, my spirit was shattered and broken.I had my legs wrapped around my mother for my life and my older brother thankfully came which I was hoping for since he’s experience some sort of rehab and has a very aware conscienceness. I was able to get out and when I did I was constantly looking over my shoulder and in fear people were going to come get me to take me back. AND when I reached outside…( we didn’t get to go outside, I probably went out and hour and a half the entire time I spent there) I felt free and I felt like I just been reborn. I support others that have been to lifeline and or similar places and empathize with people who feel the rage towards lifeline.


No boy should go through that

I went to lifeline because I was in my senior year in high school and I was only smoking marijuana. I was in a Mormon family and that was a big now. The trauma really started in the beginning when my parents took me to A counseling appointment to meet with a therapist they both went in the room with her alone. Then I went in, she told me they were thinking about sending me to a treatment center and that we could work out my “issues” together. Suddenly the door swung open and two huge Polynesians picked me up handcuffed me and took me to lifeline. Once I got to lifeline the first thing they had me do was go alone with someone probably 22 years old strip down naked and take a shower while they were standing there. They said it was in case I smelled like anything I wouldn’t trigger it anyone else. From there I had to spend the first week of my time there was someone’s hand on my shoulder at all times and I couldn’t talk. I can’t even look around. I couldn’t even look at any of the girl clients without getting in trouble or confronted about it. Two times a week we would have these confrontations where you could call out another client for something you saw them doing wrong. I couldn’t talk with my family for the first 14 days and it was killing me inside. I couldn’t even see them. The amount of shame that I was feeling was unprecedented and something I’ve never experienced. Something the therapist you and I know this because I actually went back to work for a lifeline to try and give some hope to the boys and be a friend to them. They tell the parents that your kid is going to do anything to manipulate you out of the treatment center and not to believe anything they say. So when I told them what was going on and they didn’t believe me. It was brutal. We slept in these little rooms for six clients each. We rarely got outside. Once or twice a week. Remember having to work out to Richard Simmons. If I didn’t want to I got in trouble and I couldn’t fees up and leave the program so I was forced to follow all the rules and obey. They told me I was an attic and then I suffered with addiction because of my traumatic experiences that I had gone through in my youth. I had a disease and a problem and I started to believe them. I started to read Alcoholics Anonymous like I was an addict and I needed help. This ingrain the belief that there was something wrong with me even more. Growing up in the Mormon church I was constantly faced with guilt and shame. Thinking I was bad for masturbating or smoking weed. Having to pray to God to ask for forgiveness so I could bless the sacrament the next day. Having to go and sit in front of my bishop and confess so I could be worthy again. It just made me feel even more worthless. Like I had no hope. I started to progress fast through the program I got all the way up to fourth phase in four months and I could start going home. I could even bring another client back to my house to spend the night with me. One time we were in my room at night and I told him I used to hide my weed up in my ceiling when I reached up I was surprised to find a pipe with a full bowl of weed in it. We both went into the bathroom and smoked it. It was the funnest night we Would ever have together. Well the next day he thought it would be a good idea to tell the other boys. We were sitting in group right before our families were going to come and I remember Dan Scholtz the clinical director pushing the dividing screen open so hard and yelling Keaton stand up! I had to stand up in front of all the group and tell everyone what had happened. I was completely shamed. Instead of nurturing me and having compassion I was set back all the way to the beginning of the program and had to start again. At this point my mom started to catch on and realize what was happening so eventually she pulled me a week before my 18th birthday. Another thing I felt completely inappropriate while I was there I would masturbate at night from time to time. It was one thing I could do to get away from it all. One day in group one of the boys confronted me for it and I was so embarrassed that I said I didn’t do it. I was held back until I got honest for masturbating. I couldn’t just get honest to my clinician I had to do it in front of the group. It is not the way to help people heal.I am completely disgusted with the program there. I sense went back to work there and couldn’t even handle it. Something has to be done soon

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