Treatment Abuse, Behavior Modification, Thought Reform > Lighthouse of northwest florida (fka VCA )/ Rebekah / Roloff )

Bethesda Home for Girls

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I have not had a chance to read through this entire thread but will as I can stomach it. My name is Darlene and when I was at Bethesda Home for Girls I believe it was later in either 81 or 82. I never made it off of "new girl status" as I, and a slowly growing group of girls devised a plan to get word out out to our parents since our required weekly letters home were heavily policed. I can recall the first letter I wrote being thrown back in my face again by an angry worker named Lisa. I used to remember her last name but have blocked it out apparently. She was mean and hateful and took great joy in making other girls miserable. Short, stout, and with a nose that looked like a pigs snout, her beady eyes shot daggers at you and when she was seen walking towards you, girls SCATTERED.

I have so much to say but wanted to add a quick post to let people who may be searching for others there at the same time know I was here. I had a few good friends there, a wild and curly haired red head who I want to call Patti but am unsure if that is her name now. A pretty blonde haired girl named Selena I believe, a brunette who looked much like me who I used to trade clothes with at times named Mary Beth I think, a blonde headed girl who was not a helper but was not on new girl status that pretended to be saved so while my helper Becky (she was such a witch) had chores to do outside would often "watch me" for her. It got so lax that she would often have 4 or more "new girls" to watch and we would sit in the back of the room hidden by the front bunk beds pretending to play Skip Bo or Uno while we really talked about our favorite songs, tv shows, etc. which of course were all things that were strictly off limits. Whispering to each other while someone took turns keeping "watch" by the door for us and breaking many rules especially the one where new girls were not allowed to talk to each other or even look at each other.

The things that may make me stand out and trigger a memory for someone:

I was from California and people always remarked about my "California accent".
I have bluegreen eyes, am short at 5' 1" have curly unruly frizzy brunette hair which I kept cut short in the front and "feathered" as was the style then, and long in the back.
I was the one who got narked on by some girl who was in on the plan that got "saved" before we could fully execute it. Here are the details of what went down:

"Patti" (I think that was her name but may not have been) had been told by her mother (in order to get her to go there willingly we discovered when we got busted) that if she would agree to go and didn't like it she could send her mom a letter with the code "Did our dog have her puppies yet?" which would alert her mother that all was not well and she wanted to go home because their dog was spayed.

She wrote the letter and the plan was she would get out and smuggle out letters and addresses to other girls parents so when on the outside she could freely warn them of the horrors going on in that home. Code was written in bibles (I kept mine for many years but have no idea what ever happened to it now) using a system of circling andor underlining the numbers and letters needed to spell out someones parents names and addresses. To the uneducated eye it simply looked as if there was normal high lighting of certain passages, etc. as was common in everyone's bible for whatever reason (favorite verse, need to memorize, etc. etc.) Each person had it in a unique color until we ran out of color options and then started over again so there was no confusing it. Names first, then street address, then street name, city, state, zip code and perhaps even a phone number following it.

Our idea was that at least ONE of our parents would also pull us from the school and that way whomever got out could also verify and back up Patti's claims. I wrote two letters to my mother, sealed them in envelopes and sewed one of them into the stomach of a teddy bear after removing some of the stuffing and folding it carefully. For not knowing how to sew well I did an amazing job. The seam was perfect, you could not tell the bear's original stitching had been removed and resewn again. Odd because until this day I can't even hem a dang pair of pants. The second was placed inside the lining of a purse she planned to take with her as well. Same thing as the teddy bear, carefully removed the stitching on the lining at the bottom of the purse or perhaps the top under the lip of the outer part of the purse which would have hid it better, slipped the letter inside ensuring it was pliable, flat, and would not be found during the search of her articles she would have to go through before being allowed to leave, and sewn up expertly.

Everything was going as planned (or so we thought) and this conspiracy went on for a while before we got narked out because Patti received a letter back from her mom stating that "Yes, the dog had puppies but there were some "complications" and the dog needed to go to the vet and she would update her when she knew something." We, being deliriously hopeful and soooo nieve all came to the conclusion that her mother was working on getting Patti out and perhaps was having issues backing out of the contract she probably signed when she enrolled Patti there. Blissfully unaware that Patti's mother never intended on letting her out of there before her year was up at least and was instilling stalling tactics. I remember Patti being excited and writing back a letter asking what type of complications the dog was having and I believe we got busted before her mothers next response.

I'll never forget that day. I came in from either lunch or bible study with Becky my prison guard and the nice girl who used to watch us (she was funny and crazy as hell too BTW, would love to find her again even if only online) was sitting wide eyed on the bunk across from mine and Becky's in our room. I recall her looking at me in that way that makes the hair on your arms stand straight up and I asked her as non-chalantly as possible, "What's wrong?" (why do I want to say Lisa or Laura or something here??? What was her name??? Arrggghh) She kept staring straight at me and with a look of utter shock and horror on her face which she was desperately trying to hide in front of Becky she said.... "I don't know, Mama and Lisa just came in here and took a purse and a teddy bear off of your bed."

Those words caused my heart to turn to ice. My stomach dropped and I'm sure I turned about 15 sheets of white in a split second. Nervously I asked, "What did they want with them?" She shook her head back and forth with great care never breaking eye contact with me and said very slowly, "I don't know.... but Mama did not look happy." At this point she was in a cold sweat as I could see it all over her face. She got up and bolted out of the room mumbling a good bye or an excuse to leave. Some how Becky never caught on to this and never even paid attention to our conversation it seemed.

Within minutes, just enough time for me to feel as if I was going to wet myself out of sheer terror, Lisa the worker who every one feared marched into our room, looked at me with a gleam in her eye and a wicked smile and said, "Come with me to the office, Mama wants to see you." Ice filled my veins, my legs went weak and I remember when I slowly got up from my bunk Lisa gladly leaned forward, roughly grabbed my arm, and "helped me along" to the office. The story goes on from there but I've written enough for now. Anyone involved in this fiasco will recognize something I've said.

I'll be checking into this forum and reading more posts in hopes of finding anyone who remembers me. Especially the few good friends I felt I had. I hope to reconnect with them in some way and I hope they do remember me.... All the photos I came back with from Bethesda have been lost long ago from moving. I had them for so many years and now they are gone. I wish I still had them but there's no sense in crying over spilt milk. My favorite photo was of me and Mary Beth standing side by side, she had borrowed one of my Gunnesax dresses and I was wearing this frilly and uncomfortable Gunnesax blouse and skirt.

I was there for Thanksgiving and Christmas of whatever year I was there and believe it was February perhaps when we got busted? I know I was still a new girl but had been there almost the 3 months required to get off new girl status when this all blew up in our faces. I was shipped to another school BTW after Mama Wills called my mother asking permission to severely punish me with a paddle. My mother refused and sent me to another school that actually threatened to send kids who misbehaved to a Roloff school. Hahahahahahaha! The kids there were duly impressed that I had been "kicked out" of a Roloff school. LOL

Started in Wisconsin, was kidnapped along with other kids after Child protective services came in and did interviews and smuggled across the border to Illinois to their main school with a small group of kids. My best friend Debbie had been at that school all along and we not only got that place shut down in the biggest fiasco to hit that sleepy town in Iriquois county in Penile, IL but made the newspapers. That story however, is for another day. I wish I had access to the papers archives or even could remember the name of that damned school. I've tried Googling different terms but nothing comes up. The newspaper accused us of snorting aspirin and all sorts of stupid stuff that was not true although that is the place I learned to play the pass out game....

There was a girl there too I'd love to find. While being smuggled to Illinois we were housed one night at some church family's house and her and I stayed up until everyone was asleep, smuggled make up and curling irons, etc. from the downstairs bathroom and snuck out of the house into the snow only to end up at a 24 hour laundromat and no plan. After fixing ourselves up we called our parents collect. Neither call went well.... The police pulled up there and were very sympathetic to our plight but drove us back to that home. Everyone was up eating breakfast and nobody even noticed we had been gone in all the mayhem. LOL

I'll write more later, for now I've written a novel but I hope someone recognizes something. Thank you. I have a Facebook page I would be happy to be contacted on here:



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