August 27,1990 — May 7,1992
Hello everyone, I am pleased to of found other survivors, after all these years. Even though I have moved on in this world…being blessed, successful and happy.There will always be the nearly two years that were taken away from my adolescent life. Whether my relationship with Straight Inc. shall be considered more of a positive or negative time of my life is still undetermined in my view!
Here is my story…..
The year is 1990, I am 16yrs old, I am in my 2nd week of my Junior year in High School. I had just come home from school…when my Mother makes a phone call saying that I am home…while acting nervous and very suspicious! I asked her who she was talking to….she avoids answering me and before I know it, four large men are at my house telling me that they are here to take me to a drug rehabilitation center. I instantly thought of the rehabs that I had heard of before…You know, the “country club” types and it all really seemed exciting to me at the time! It didn’t really surprise me that my Mother had placed me in a rehab…as I was very defiant to her at that time in my life. I felt very confident going to a rehab with these men…knowing that I had never done any drugs other than cigarettes and alcohol! My defiance to my Mother was mainly contributed by the lack of a Father figure and an older girlfriend I was seeing who most definitely influenced my every move at that time and age. I had also put friends before my family!
So we drove to Orlando and I was “belt looped” into an old warehouse and placed into a room. Minutes later, several men and kids around my age took turns coming into the room accusing me of abusing drugs like marijuana, acid, cocaine, and so forth, they were sure of it…just by my appearance and attitude…according to them! I remember them screaming in my face…literally being spit on from the outrage these guys had…telling me how I have hurt myself and my family! I recall a boy named Dax Jones as being the best “spitter” there with his braces
Within a few days, I was being evaluated and drug tested by a nurse. She seemed really nice and honest! I was pleased by this…thinking the results would release me from this “Hell” I was in! After a week or so, when the nurse would finally tell me that my results were negative…I felt my release was soon coming. I played along with the program for the first month or so…but after realizing that I was not allowed to have any contact with my family, along with the way myself & others were being treated…I decided to become a misbehavior!
Now believe it or not, certain misbehaviors were actually being treated better than active workers in the group! We had special privileges…Outside time, lifting weights, music, snacks/sodas, even a “say-so” for what host-homes we would go to during the week and on weekends! And we all know that there were always those host-homes that we prayed for…(food/sodas & cleanliness!!) But only certain staff members allowed that! Vince Puglisi helped me keep my sanity many times over!! It all eventually ended… for me at least!
This lasted for a couple of months or so…and then things got worse! After all the painful restraints, being locked in “time-out” rooms and the depriving of sitting in a chair while in group, using the bathroom, food and even sleep….along with one successful cop-out and several failed ones…I came to the conclusion that I had no other choice but to play along with the program to get out of this place. So I did, eventually making it to 2nd phase…and as soon as I felt the time was right… I copped out again! My Mother turned me in every time I came back home…These were the ONLY times in my relationship with her where she had lied to my face! NEVER once… before or after Straight Inc. I remember her telling me that Straight told her I had tested positive for numerous drugs! That was when I knew what a scam Straight was and that I was never going to make her believe I was actually being abused there! Of course, after returning. I played the program again and again…every time making 2nd phase and then running off! I really screwed myself on one escape…I stole some cash and a bicycle from a local host home and charges were pressed against me! The Judge court-ordered me to successfully complete the program!!I recall having thoughts of; “It would be better for me to be in Juvenile Detention or jail than to stay another day in this hell!!”
Finally, after my actual 9th successful escape…I committed a criminal act by assaulting an officer who had detained me for my return to Straight. I did this act so I would be arrested and placed in Juvenile Detention instead of them returning me to Straight custody! When I stood before the Judge, I explained to him that I have been in this rehab for nearly two years which was not only abusive, but had deprived me of my education! The Volusia Co. Courts were unaware of my Orange Co. Court Order to graduate the program, so the Judge court-ordered me OUT of Straight and ordered me to get my high school education within a certain time frame! Of course, Straight tried to fight for my return but the Judge who ordered me out of Straight stood by his decision and by then, my Mother was exhausted from everything.So, that is how I was able to free myself from Straight!
Now, to what I experienced in this place…I know that it cannot be much more or less than what everyone else who was there either witnessed or personally experienced! What I will say is this…Yes, there were kids in there that had severe drug addictions…I saw their cravings and tried to comfort them the best I knew how…But there were also kids in there that possibly had only A.D.D. or other similar mental issues, who were so young and innocent, all they wanted to do was play with their G.I. Joes or Matchbox cars. Yes, the disease of feelings make perfect sense to me…but this place was nothing more than an insurance scam that abused children while brainwashing their families! Straight took well over $20,000 from my Mother!! Straight had to of accepted each and every child into their program, turning down no one, while preying on the vulnerabilities of the parents/family!!
After all is said and done…I still fight with the reasoning to those years…Thankfully, the nightmares of returning to Straight subsided eventually,(several years) after leaving! I always try to find the positive in everything that happens to me…So I will say that Straight Inc. was definitely a learning experience which forced me to grow up faster than I might of without! We are a special group who endured one hellish of an experience, thanks to Straight!! I will say that I would not wish an experience like mine on anyone else out there!
Shortly after I left, Orlando Straight changed its name and eventually closed down due to obvious reasons….