November 1983 to June 1985
My parents first found out about this place called Straight from a neighbor of ours who lived in our neighborhood whose daughter had successfully Seven Stepped from the Cincinnati Straight Program sometime in 1982. My mother talked with the seven steppers mother on the phone just once and then she was instantly sold on this unknown place called Straight Incorporated. When I was first placed in Straight in November 1983, our neighbors daughter was a Junior Staff member there.
I had been smoking pot and drinking and I was selling LSD for about six months plus I got expelled from two different schools. I really think that was kind of a sign to my parents that I had a problem with drugs.
My dark journey with Straight began when I was lied to and deceived by my parents. My mom did the lying and my father silently went along with it. What happened was I was told I was just going on this one day trip with my parents to talk to some friendly people in Cincinnati,Ohio who once had bad drug problems but later on they had successfully rebounded and straightened their lives out by quitting drugs and alcohol and now they were on the right path in Life. I was also assured by both my folks that this brief visit wouldn`t take long at all and that I would be back home in my beloved Michigan by 8 o’clock that night so I could go out on a double date with my girlfriend and my best friend and his girlfriend.
So one morning we left our beautiful home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and the three of us drive out to Cincinnati,Ohio. The trip was four and a half hours long. We arrived at this building a little after noon. Once inside the building it wasn`t long till I was then taken away down one or more hallways to what I now know is an intake room. Once I was in there I sat down with these two other people. They were both oldcomer phasers on 4th phase. They had clipboards and pens. Well basically they started asking me all kinds of weird and personal questions and writing down my answers. They asked me what different types of drugs I used and how often I used them. They asked me did I masturbate and if so how often. I was asked if I had sex and if so with who and how often. They asked me if I committed any crimes and if so what were they. They asked me a laundry list of endless questions. They didn’t have me sign anything. I was 16 and under age so I don’t think they give a damn. When I started fighting with them was when I was trying to go out the door to leave and they said you can’t leave so I started pushing them and next thing I know I was pushing both of them we started falling and wrestling to the ground and that’s when the other staff members came in. What happened was they asked me if I ever had had sex with animals. I was completely blindsided by this crazy question. They were serious. I just looked at them both and I started laughing. It was then and there when I stood up from my chair and I said ,”It`s time for me to get the f*** out of here.” That’s when they both stood up from their chairs and one of them said, “You`re not going anywhere.” I started arguing and fighting with all of them. It started getting very crazy and loud very quickly inside that intake room. All of a sudden there were four more guys and a staff member all inside that room. So now there are six oldcomers, a staff member and I inside that small room. Soon everyone is surrounding me and swarming all around me and getting up in my face and telling me I’m not going anywhere. I told them b******* that I had to go back home to Bloomfield Hills, Michigan because I was seeing my girlfriend that night. They said that wasn’t going to happen at all because I was now officially signed into the Straight Incorporated program by my parents which meant that I was staying there until I turned eighteen years old. At that time I was just a little over sixteen years of age I remember hitting a wall as hard as I could that I really thought I had broken my hand. All of a sudden I noticed both of my parents were right behind all these weird guys. I remember screaming loudly at my parents and telling them that I was going to kill them both after I broke out of that f****** place and that they had totally betrayed me. I also said that I wanted them to tell my girlfriend Kelly back home in Michigan that she better not see anybody else because I’ll be home very soon. Of course that never happened because I was in Straight there for well over the next two years. I was in total shock. I’ve never been betrayed like that before in my Life. My parents had completely ruined my trust with them and they didn`t care. I don’t think I’ve ever trusted anybody since. This was the first time that they betrayed me out of the three times total and they ALL were pertaining to Straight. My parents had completely ruined and decimated all of my trust in them and they didn`t care. I don’t think I’ve ever trusted anybody since. This was the first time that they betrayed me out of the three times total and they all were pertaining to Straight.
I was beltlooped and escorted into that crazy room where the guys side and the girls side was. When I was taken out to the big group room there was a total of 175 to 200 people in there. A group rap was going on. When I was first introduced by a staff member to the group on my first day in November 1983, I noticed right away there were several people being restrained on the concrete floor with one person sitting on each arm and one person on each leg which was shocking in and of itself. Very disturbing. After further observation and after I was placed in my seat on front row, I noticed these peculiar people all around me who were drooling uncontrollably all over themselves while others were being viciously restrained in their chairs. The fighters in the chairs had a person sitting on each side of them who was holding their arms and somebody sitting in the row right behind them jamming into their knuckles on their back and propping them up straight. I also noticed many others had urinated in their pants and the bad smells and foul odors which resulted were just to much to take. I recall on one occasion during lunch a guy pulled his penis out to masturbate. That caused a lot of people to lose their appetite. Everyone in group started freaking out. The staff member made the guy sitting next to him grab the penis and help the guy put his thing back in his pants and zip his pants up which to me was just beyond ludicrous. Later on in the day the fourth phasers started arriving in-group and they were sitting directly in front for the rest of the group and along the side of the group were fifth phasers none of the Four seem too different to me. I noticed a few people had bad scarring on their arms. Later on in the weeks to come I noticed a lot of people had these burn marks from cigarettes in their arms and others actually had hand carved crosses and other carved symbols into their arms with their own fingers as a sign of self-hate or frustration. All this was very foreign and shocking to me as I’ve never seen any of this before in my Life. I didn’t even know anybody with a tattoo and several of the guys had them which was very strange to me.
Yes I remember on my very first day at this deranged place called Straight when I had decided that I had to get out of this place by copping out. There were so many red flags and obvious signs that this place was an out of control loony bin that I needed to escape from. When I walked into the group room where I saw several people being restrained on the cold floor by other people sitting on their arms and legs as well. I saw so many people sitting in group all perfectly straight up just like department store mannequins. The the few that were slumped over were drooling endlessly on themselves or had urinated or pooped in their pants. All of these images were very disturbing. So yes it was right then and there when I decided this demented place wasn’t for me and I had to get the hell out of there. I knew on my first day there that my parents had made a terrible mistake by putting me in this place. The sad and tragic thing was that my parents didn`t know the full magnitude of the mistake they had just made.
Out of sheer desperation I tried running for a door at my hosthome on my very first night (or the very next morning.) This foster home was located off North Bend in Colerain,Ohio. There were 3 oldcomers at this house. When I was trying to get out of the garage I pushed my foster-brother and then I hit him in the face. He fell backwards and that’s when I tried getting out of the garage. My oldcomer had me beltlooped in the garage heading towards the car when they opened the garage door I tried diving under it we were going into the building and I got painfully tackled by him by his brother and his host brother. All three of them jumped on me,roughed me up and called me all kinds of negative names. Later on after they got me back to the building I was blasted to pieces by everybody. Keep in mind you I hadn’t even been 24 hours and the program yet I was called an a****** and every other name you can imagine. Of course I just stood there in shock and disbelief that I was still in the f****** program and didn’t get away. I remember even prior to trying to copout that I told my oldcomer who spent the most time with me in the first few hours that I liked him but I had to leave anyway. He then asked me just how that was going to happen. I said you’ll see tomorrow and the very next morning that’s when I hit him on the way to the car in the garage.
Yes only after being there for a couple weeks it became a very regular thing to see all these strange people fighting daily and being restrained on the floor. There were so many additional, bizarre incidents of mayhem such as chairs being used as weapons by being thrown at other people, people running for doors to escape, people spitting on one another and people smashing food in one another’s face. Yes fighting was a daily occurrence at Cincinnati, Straight. I’ve seen people bite chunks of flesh out of other people. Lots of people got broken noses,bloody noses,bloody and busted lips, black eyes and so forth. I had seen more insanity at Straight then I ever had seen anywhere else in my Life. I just had to get out of that place.
So I complied with all of the endless rules. I participated in their raps and cried all the time in order to manipulate everyone there so I could get onto second phase and escape. I was on first phase anywhere from a month and a half to two months. I participated and followed all of the rules. The entire time I had only one goal in mind: to get the hell out of there.
So after a month and a half I made second phase. Freedom was within my grasp.
My first night as an oldcomer I spent with my parents at The Days Inn Hotel in Sharonville,Ohio. The plan was that we would spend the night there and then the next Saturday morning we would go to Tri-County Shopping Mall on a permission. I passed the time by talking with them and trying to figure out and understand exactly where they both stood on the program. In talking with them I found out that that my mom was completely obsessed with and brainwashed by the Straight program. To my relief I discovered that my father wasn`t either of these two things. I felt that I had a very real possibility of being able to get back home.
The following morning my parents and I arrived at the Straight building somewhere between 8:30am and 9:00am. I reported back to group and waited for the approval of my permission. My permission ended up getting approved by staff within the hour. I then walked back out of the building to the parking lot. So my parents and I drive out to the Tri-County Shopping Mall located on 11700 Princeton Pike, Cincinnati, OH 45246. My father was driving us in our a large 4 door cream colored 1988 Oldsmobile. Once we got to the Shopping Mall parking lot and the car was parked. I was sitting in the back seat.
Countless times inside my head I had been thinking and preparing for this very moment. I had been rehearsing everything I would say to my parents for the longest time. Now it was finally my moment and my time for me to say everything that I needed to say. I looked at them both and said, “I’m not going into the Mall. I want to go back home to Michigan and if we don’t go back home to Michigan right now then I’m getting out of the car and I’m going to flee down to Florida and I don’t give a f*** what you have to say. That’s what I’m going to do because I can’t go back to that crazy program.” I remember my mother saying, “Steven we’re not taking you back to Michigan.” I then said, “Then we got a serious problem here because I’m not ever going back to that crazy program. There’s people shitting themselves, people pissing themselves,people drooling all over the place people are carving their arms up all bloody with their own fingers putting crosses up and down their own flesh and several people every day being restrained on the ground. There’s no way I’m going back to that Hell. I’m going home.” My father was trying to calm me down because I was panicked and crying. “I told him, No dad, I’m going to get out of the car right now if we do not head back home right now.” I remember my mother then saying, “Well, just let him go and then we’ll call the Straight program and the Police.” My father said, “Wait wait slow down.” I started talking again about all of the horrors I had been seeing in there over the past month. One of these terrors was about this girl in group had actually badly bitten another girl and took a huge chunk of skin out of the arm of this female and spit all the flesh, blood and saliva on the ground and there was no way I wanted to be around crazy people like this. I also told them about the huge amount of suicides that were occurring in the program in that hell I never even knew a single person ever did it take in their life until I came to this damn program and from my understanding there was over a hundred suicides related to the program and I didn’t want to be around people like that at this point. I realized my father was very understanding to what I was saying and he was willing to take me back home to Michigan but my mother was still adamant saying, “Carl he is just manipulating us. All of the staff members and seven steppers told us this is a typical druggie behavior that a lot of the newcomers in the program behave like this and Steve is still new in the program and he’s just manipulating us.” My mother apparently didn’t believe a single word I was saying. I was getting so furious at that point I started shouting. When I opened the car door to walk out that was when my father said no no will take you home.
The car engine finally started up and we started to drive off in silence. As we were driving off going back onto the highway, I remember having this deep fear that they were going to get on I-275 East headed toward Milford where Straight was located instead of going on I-75 North. However much to my relief we got on I-75 North after I threaten jumping out of a moving car because I started to open the door as we were approaching the exit ramp as we started going North on I-75 headed towards Michigan. I will never forget how much I felt this overflowing sense of relief with every 4015 miles closer we got back to Michigan and the farther away we got from Straight. While we were driving home I continued talking about so many of the things I saw in the program pertaining to the endless abuse, suicide attempts, and all of the psychotic behavior of the people who were trapped against their will in the program. I made it clear as best I could that I did not belong there and how I was now changed for the better and that from now on I was always going to do the right thing. I went on and on in great detail about how I was never going to use drugs and alcohol ever again in my Life and that I was so glad and overjoyed to heading back home again and see all my normal friends and girlfriend. By the time we were all done talking we finally arrived back in our driveway back home in Michigan. I felt pretty safe and secure that both my parents finally had an understanding of the insanity and abuse that was going on in the Cincinnati Straight program on a daily basis and that they would never send me back there.
At long last I was feeling so much relief for the first time in a very long time. So much relief in fact that I can`t explain to you in words how good I was feeling. Once I got home and went inside I went right upstairs and talked talked to my Grandmother nonstop for about two hours about the 24/7 insanity of the Ohio Straight program. She was very sweet,loving and understanding just as she always was. I remember her just hugging me and saying that everything’s okay now. I then called up my best friend Ed and my girlfriend and made plans to meet them at the local shopping mall the following day.
While I was at the Lakeside Shopping Mall the following day meeting up with my girlfriend and my best friend. Apparently my brainwashed hostmother as we always called them, contacted my mother in Michigan and told her that if I didn’t get right back to the Ohio Straight program immediately that I would soon be dead from drugs and alcohol. She also went on and on with all of this nonsense about how my Life depended on returning and graduating the Cincinnati Straight program if I were to live long and prosper. All these years later now looking back on it, it’s very funny to me because this very same Straight Mom pulled/withdrew her own son from the program right after six months of me being returned back to the program. That Foster brother of mine was taken out of the program by his own family. The humorous and ironic thing is this Straight mom didn`t think her very own son was doomed to die from drugs and alcohol when she withdrew him from Straight and yet six months earlier this very same Straight mom was singing a completely different song when she was freaking out on the phone to my mom and insisting that I must be returned to Cincinnati Straight and graduate or else my ugly fate was I would be dead soon from narcotics and alcohol. Back to what I was saying, this Straight mom had apparently manipulated and gotten my mother right back into the toxic mindset that I needed to be put right back in the Ohio Straight program. So while I was still at the mall and unbeknownst to me, my mom contacted Straight in Ohio and talked at great length with a junior staff member. They were plotting,planning and scheming together and hammering out all of the details required to successfully shanghai me back in the Cincinnati Straight cult. It was agreed that the junior staff member would come to Michigan and get me with some seven steppers. My mom also contacted my cousins and uncles saying she needed their help immediately because I was going to be taken by force back to that program late at night once I got home from the mall. So the sick plan was hatched and I had no idea about any of this. Once I got back home from the mall my mother told me she was so very happy and elated that I was back home. She also went on to say that I was going to be safe and it was a big mistake that she and my father had ever put me in that crazy program in the first place and now I can move forward with my life and that was just a good learning experience. I believed everything she was saying. So now I’m going to bed feeling peaceful and thinking this insane nightmare is finally over with. Some time later I fell asleep.
Some time after that I then got the jolt and shock of my entire Life and also was the most rude awakening I ever got. What happened was I was fast asleep and at about 1 o’clock in the morning the lights flipped on in my bedroom. To my shock and surprise right there in my bedroom was a junior staff member with these seven steppers right along with my Uncle and Cousin plus I saw that my mother and father were also there. I noticed in the hand of my uncle was this long rope to tie me up with and kidnap me by taking me by force back to the program in Ohio. Right at that moment in time my heart just dropped. I was so panic-stricken. If I had I not been sixteen years old I honestly think I would have died from a heart attack for sure. No doubt about it. It was a gut-wrenching scene that was just impossible to process. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, scream or do something else. What is the right approach? I had never experienced anything like this pandemonium before in my life. I was terrified. I was stunned that this was actually happening. I wasn`t dreaming. This was for real. When I saw that rope I realized that I had no family anymore and that fighting them was futile. There was just no way that I was going to be able to get out of that room and escape from all this craziness going in my bedroom. So I said there was no need for the rope and that I would go back with them willingly. So the staff member grabs me by the beltloop and my uncle,my father staff and those seven steppers all took me outside to this car. The junior staff member and a 7 stepper got in the backseat one on each side of me and my father and Uncle were in the front seat while another car followed behind us with seven steppers. So off we went. I remember crying loudly in the back seat from Michigan and all the way to Ohio. I recall that during that four and a half hour drive back to Ohio that not much was said in the car other than this was all for my best interests. I remember knowing for certain I had no family anymore other than God. It seemed that something had died inside of me.
When we arrived at this straight building was very early in the morning it couldn’t have been later than 6:00am. I was beltlooped and I was taken to the time-out room where I sat all by myself in a corner. I remember this junior staff member looking down at me he said, “You know Steve we could kill you in this program and nobody would ever know or give a s***. You have nobody so you better grow up and do what’s expected or you may not make it. I remember looking up at him saying, “Dave you can’t kill somebody that’s already dead.” They left me all alone in that room for a couple of hours. I guess this was done just to have me think and think and think some more. Maybe they were secretly and silently hoping that I would copout again so they could stop me and put me through hell for doing it. Some time later I was beltlooped and escorted into the group where was verbally blasted to pieces and called the manipulative mother f***** ,a liar, a piece of s*** and other unspeakable insults that nobody should ever be subjected to. While all of this was happening I could feel a storm of rage was brewing up inside of me. I remember looking at the group and telling everybody in the room to f*** off and then I sat down in my seat. I was so angry and I felt so worthless inside that I immediately started fighting everyone with extreme intensity. I was savagely and maliciously restrained on that ice cold floor. When I was finally let up off the floor I started rebelling with a fury and outrage that shocks me to this day. I would carve my arms up with my own fingers and wipe all of the blood all over myself. I would throw food at people. I would call people nasty names. Straight had turned me into this monster that I never was before in my Life.
I remember the very first night that I was back at Straight after coming back from escaping. I was placed in the dismissal line where every night we all had to stand heel-to-toe with somebody belt looping you from behind waiting to leave the building when a fifth phaser came up to me and said look forward and grabbed his pen and jammed it right into my arm. I remember I didn’t even make a noise. I didn’t even move. I just saw the blood running down my arm but I clearly remember thinking wait till I get a hold of this m***********. I remember thinking I’m going to knock all his f****** teeth out when I get close enough to this son of a b****!!!.” Unfortunately within a week or so he was out of the program so it really didn’t matter. What happened was that 5th phaser who violently assaulted me for no reason ended up 7 Stepping from the Cincinnati program. After graduating he went went back home to where he lived in Florida. He was originally from the Florida program before relapsing on drugs and he was sent up to Cincinnati.
Also after my first copout I was taken to what was called “The time-out room.” Yes there was this room located on the other side of group which was basically the same as a time-out room. Whenever staff members had problems with certain people in group they would take newcomers in there and say you want to hit me hit me that way nobody could hear what was going on if we were to get in a fight not many people running this rumor even knew about it unless they were total assholes. Not many people knew about this particular room or ever were in it unless they were totally out of hand. So like I was saying, I was taken to the time-out room. I had been taken out of group for fighting and placed in this room with a oldcomer who was put in charge of watching me because I think I was fighting in group or I may have been when I came back from a cop-out. While I was in there a fourth phaser was watching me/guarding me with the intake room door ajar sitting in a chair. At some point I pretended like I was fast asleep and it got to the point where that fourth phaser wasn`t really paying much attention to me at all. As I said, I was just acting like I was falling asleep and my eyes looking like they were shut but I was actually peering through them through my eyelashes. When I noticed him look away I suddenly charged him and knocked him over. He fell out of that chair and right on the concrete floor. My timing was perfect. I totally caught him off guard. He was stunned. He was upset. I started running down the Halls as fast as I could. I was running fast through doors and I could hear him behind me yelling at me and panting behind me. I had a head start on this guy. I was laughing during all of this madness because I could hear him gasping for air as he was sprinting after me. When I bolted through this one door I ran right into a staff member right in the main entrance of the building. All the walls of the hallways block were painted an off white and the carpet was a yellow, goldish, cream color. That fourth phaser and staff member then jumped right on me. I was instantly restrained and marched into the group while a lunatic rap was already well in progress. I was severely confronted by the group. When I started arguing they tried to restrain me in my chair. I started fighting in my seat and that`s when I was violently restrained on the floor.
These incidents below happened later on.
One incident was when I was an oldcomer and the rest were when I was a staff member at Straight. Of course these are just some of the events that occurred. There were countless other chaotic incidents which occurred with alarming regularity during my years at Cincinnati Straight.
I had a foster brother who got into a fight with a newcomer. The newcomer threw my foster-brother through a wall. When I reported it to a staff member, the staff member came over and threw the newcomer through our wall. That newcomer felt so bad he wrote a suicide letter and he killed himself two days later.
I also received the call about a newcomer who ran through a glass porch window was on the second floor fell on the roof of a car and was running down the street police had to be contacted.
One day when I was on staff I broke up a fight with some guy who was trying to pull this other guy’s eyeball out. He jammed his finger down into his eye socket. I reached around and grabbed the guy. I told him to pull his finger straight out and at the very last second he snatched his finger and tore the guys eyelid off which had to be sewed back on.
Another time when I was on staff I saw one guy was restraining another guy and covering his nose while the guy was struggling for air. I was on staff then and I started that guy over who was smothering the kid.