November 1983 to June 1985
I copped out for the second time one bitterly cold morning in February 1984. I had been secretly planning to escape a couple days in advance. The reason for this is two days prior to my copout, I had sniffed/huffed a marker and got high. I sniffed/huffed it back at my foster home in the bedroom closet while my foster brother was in the bathroom with a newcomer. I have no idea what the exact brand of magic marker it was. I knew that if I dared talk about it with anyone in or out of group that would result set in me getting destroyed and blasted to bits in group and then instantly started over. I remember sitting in group during a rap the night before I copped out. I was having these bad anxiety attacks when thinking about it over and over in my head. I looked and felt really bad. I remember getting even more freaked out because this one particular fourth phaser was constantly looking at me from the fourth phase side and I just knew he was going to report me because he could tell something negative was going on with me. So that night I went home knowing full well that the very next morning I was going to take the newcomer to the building, drop him off and then escape and so that’s exactly what I did. Some other motivations for my second copout was that I was very upset and severely depressed because I was deeply missing my family and my girlfriend back in my hometown of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
I had been on second phase this time for about a month. One cold winter morning in February 1984 the hostmom drove us out the Straight Building. We arrived there sometime after 6:00am. I beltlooped the newcomer prisoner inside the car, took him into the building with me and then I dropped him off inside the intake room with the other newcomer prisoners. That Straight building had panels that you could divide rooms into two so you could actually divide a large gym size area into two sections with these panels. So when I brought the newcomer in to the gym area the panels were off in the gym area was divided into two. So I took the newcomer into the intake room. When I was alone I headed back out I went through the first half of the gym sized area. When I got into the second section door doors in front of me leading to the parking lot in the coat room and there was an exit door to the right which lead into the field area or at least what I thought was an open field area.
When I went through the side door of the building I bolted outside and took off running. I was so out of there. There was about two inches of snow on the ground outside. There was this open field near the Straight Building that was about four acres in size and all covered in snow. My plan was to get to that wide open field and start running some more to put as much distance between that myself and that Straight building as humanly possible. So I carefully and meticulously climbed over this cold barbed wire fence so I wouldn`t be cut to bloody shreds. After I was on the other side of that fence I started running on what looked like an open field all covered with snow. To my surprise I fell right through the ice realizing way to late that I was actually on a pond and was covered with mud and water right up to my knees. To make matters worse I stumbled and fell and my entire left arm went right through the ice and underwater in that pond. I was muddy,soaking wet and miserable. It was a rude awakening. I was hating Life.
I just had to keep going in spite of all of the unpleasant circumstances now reigning down on me. I trudged through about four acres of mud and water I made it to a thick wooded area. I was running through these woods for several hours up and down Hills, across creeks, through fields and all different types of punishing terrain. There were so many times where I would come up on the back yard of somebody’s trailer home in the middle of nowhere where then I backed away and went back into the woods. This went on over and over again with me running, walking, jogging and going in and out of the woods for about three hours. Those three hours alone were beyond exhausting. At some point I saw a truck going down the road and I realized I was coming up on a traveled Road. At this time, I thought I was at least ten to fifteen miles away from the Straight Building but to my horror and surprise when I came out on the road I saw bowling alley which was called “Milford Bowl” which was approximately only one mile down the road from Straight,Incorporated. It was right then and there I when realized that I had been lost, disoriented and running in circles for hours when I had been inside those thick woods and I didn`t even know it until I saw that bowling alley. I was in shock. I just couldn`t believe it. My experiences with those dark woods was similar to the 1999 film, “The Blair Witch Project.”
I was so discouraged, upset and exhausted when I charged into the bowling alley. There were very few people working in there at that time on that day. I was all soaking wet, muddy and freezing cold. I looked like a terrible mess. The bowling alley people were all staring at me and giving me all these weird looks. They never said anything to me. They just kept looking at me and watching me. It was early afternoon, sometime after lunch. So I went over to the payphone and that’s where I called up my dad at his office in Troy,Michigan. I called my father collect from a payphone in that bowling alley. I wasted no time. I told him right away that I escaped and he needed to come pick me up because I was soaking wet and freezing and I was not ever going back to straight. I was pleading with him saying that the place was filled with all of these crazy people who were constantly being restrained and I could no longer take it anymore. I was also saying to him that I had finally learned my lesson and when I got home I was going to always remain clean and drug free. My father told me, “Stephen you need to go back to Straight right now.” I told him that wasn’t an option and that if he wasn’t going to come get me I was hanging up the phone and I was going to flee down to the Sunshine State of Florida. He said, “Don’t do that I will come and get you but I have to check first with your mother. ” I remember stating, “Dad, don’t call Mom. Just come and get me. It’s your house and I’m your son so don’t worry about her.” His response was, “Stephen how am I going to explain to your mother that you`re back home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan when she expects you to be in the Straight program in Cincinnati, Ohio?” I remember desperately pleading with him to not call her but he said he had to. He also said don’t go anywhere and call me back in five minutes. I hung up. I called him back and just as expected he said, “Your mother will not let me come and get you.” I told him I knew she would say that and I hung up the phone. I then proceeded to call my mother and when she picked up the phone I started screaming and yelling at her about how dirty,wet and freezing cold I was and how I was not going to go back to that f***** up program. She said, “Well Steven, I don’t know what to tell you because nobody’s going to come and get you.” I told her that if Dad didn’t come and get me that I was going to kill myself. She then basically said, “Go ahead and do it. You might as well just end your life now so just go ahead.” I remember getting very angry telling her to f*** off and that there was no way I was going to kill myself over a b**** like her. I said I was going to go to Florida. She said, “Good luck you’ll be picked up in no time.” Then I launched into telling her what a piece of s*** she was and then I hung up the phone on her by slamming the phone down really hard.
I looked out of the corner of my eye and saw two police officers approaching me from the entrance. It was obvious that they were two of Cincinnati`s Finest. The Bowling Alley employees had called the Police on me. The Cincinnati Straight was in operation from March 1982 to 1987. To this day I wonder how many copouts (just like me) showed up during their escapes at the “Milford Bowling Alley” during those years and how many copouts (just like me) were tragically sent right back to Straight because “Milford Bowling Alley” had called the Police on them. My out of town parents also had called the cops. Being ratted out to the cops by those redneck bowling alley employees was bad enough but being betrayed yet again by my very own Family was the sting that really stung me the hardest. One of the reasons I copped out in the first place that day was because I missed my family and the irony of it is that it was my family who threw me under the bus by turning their backs on me and ratting me out to Straight and the Cincinnati Police Department.
They both walked over to me and asked my name and where I was from. I told him my name was Steve. I said I was from a place a mile up the road called Straight and that I didn’t want to ever go back there. One police officer said he didn’t blame me and that he thought the Straight program was a damn cult anyway and he asked me if I had any relatives or anybody nearby. I told him no. He said, “Sorry son but we have to take you with us to the police station.” So we left the bowling alley. They never handcuffed me because that wasn`t necessary. I remember crying my eyes out all the whole way to the police station. The Police really cared about me and they really felt bad for me. They were actually trying to comfort and console me by saying things will be okay and once we get to the police station I can call my parents since the straight program and my parents reported me missing and then just maybe my parents would come and get me. I told him that was not a possibility because I just got off the phone with them and they both made it perfectly clear that there`s no way they are ever coming to come get me.
The two Cincinnati Police Officers just looked at each other. One of them said, That Straight program needs to be closed down. We have reports on that sick place on a weekly basis in many suicides and injured children associated with the program.” I told them, “No s***. Unfortunately I was in it and so I witnessed it all everyday.” One of the cops responded by saying, “Sorry son but we have to call the program and somebody’s going to have to come get you if your parents are not willing to come and get you.” Both the Cincinnati Police Officers were just doing their job. They were 100% polite and professional with me at all times. They treated me with respect and I treated them with equal respect. So I sat there at the Milford Police Station for about a half an hour waiting for the goons to arrive. When they did it was a staff member and some seven steppers who finally came to get me. When they picked me up at the police station they said nothing to the police. I was beltlooped and put in the backseat of the car right between two seven steppers. The staff member drove. On the trip back to Straight when they took me back to the building very little was said. I think the staff member just looked at me and said, “You just keep making things difficult on yourself. That’s all you keep doing. Your parents put you in here and they are not going to pull you from the program. So all the b******* that you keep doing really won’t matter until you turn eighteen.”
Once I got back to the group I knew exactly what was coming. I was confronted by so many people and I was called so many different names told I was a loser piece of s***. I was re-introduced to group after being strip searched in some bathroom and endlessly confronted by staff and upper phasers in the time-out room. I was taken back out to group and confronted for at least ten to fifteen minutes by several people was told me that I was a loser who was never going to do anything right. They also said I was a coward who needed to take responsibility. They said that I needed to do an “about-face” and that I had a drug problem and not to try to run away again. These blistering insults were repeatedly told to me by both guys and girls. One time I spoke out and told the girl f*** you b**** when an upper phaser came up to cover my mouth and two other faces the next to me to hold my arms as I was being stood there and confronted while some a****** was trying to cover my mouth. I obviously was not going to allow that so I started fighting hard and I was violently restrained on the floor. I had an upper phaser then sitting next to me on the ground while one phaser sat on each arm and on each leg. This was a total of four or five phasers restraining me on the cold floor. I was restrained that way for a couple hours then taken back to group.
Once back in group I started acting out again. What happened was some phasers started jamming their knuckles into my back because he said I wasn’t sitting up straight so I got in another fight. I was then thrown back on the ground and sat on again by four or five people. Well while I was being restrained I had to go to the bathroom. They wouldn’t allow me to go to the bathroom. I didn’t want to piss on myself so I held for four to eight hours. When I was finally stood up and told that I could use the bathroom I could not urinate because my prostate was so in large from holding it in for so many hours that I had to then go to a doctor that was funded and provided by the program. I was told I had “acute Prostatitis” and I’ve had problems ever since. I’m not even sure if this could have been related to the testicular cancer I got later on in life. So they took me back to group where I was started over and sat in group. I was so dejected and defeated. When I fled from that Cincinnati Straight Building early that morning I honestly thought my escape to Freedom would go 100% differently then it ended up going.
Once I got put back in the group I was seated on the front row. I acted out because I was so upset being back in the f****** building so they put a guy to the left of me and a guy to the right of me. I got restrained in my seat I think for an hour or two until I started to behave properly. As I recall I acted out for the next few days by throwing my lunch and hitting the people who were seated around me and then I got restrained on the floor. Staff eventually separated me from the group moving me to the back and far away from everybody. I was blasted when I was first brought into the group from the intake room. I was called every name integrated by the things that were said to me after about fifteen minutes with ten different people confronting me.
I was then placed into a foster home with a very strict (and abusive) oldcomer. He made my life miserable. He would basically give the other newcomers food once we got home after group and he wouldn’t give me any food. When it was bedtime, I was the only newcomer who slept on a wooden floor in my underwear with no blanket,no pillow and the windows open and remember it was February and freezing cold. This was while everyone else slept in a bed with blankets and pillows. I got only a couple hours each night if that. This was bigtime sleep deprivation. He basically told me he didn’t like me. He would order me around when it was time to take a shower brush my teeth half the time he wouldn’t even allow me to brush my teeth. I stayed with that oldcomer for about two weeks before I was moved into another foster home. The funny thing is years later when I got on staff that this very same guy who had once been my abusive oldcomer came back to group and he was a newcomer. The reason he was a newcomer again was because this guy had 7 stepped but later on he relapsed on drugs and was put right back in the program on a refresher course. I had made Straight staff in March of 1985. I was made junior staff by June and junior staff supervisor by July or August. At that time I was in charge of 12 staff members and 200 people. So when he saw me he literally started crying. He immediately requested a one-on-one because he was worried that I was going to abuse him in the same ways that he had abused me. Of course I never did but when I did go on the one on one with him he looked at me and said,”Are you going to treat me bad just like I treated you?” I said, “No.” I also said, “The funny thing is you would have never admitted you were treating me bad until you saw me in a position to treat you the same way I’m not going to do what you did to me.” I could have had him restrained taken to the time-out room and whatever else I wanted to have done to him but I never did. As a matter of fact we later on became good friends. I completely forgave him and these days he’s one of my friends on Facebook.
I got kicked off Cincinnati Straight staff because I started dating a “withdraw” from the program. I actually met her at a dance club where I was with four or five other seven steppers. It was a club that didn’t sell alcohol. So I danced with her, we kissed and afterwards we went for a walk and then within a week I was kicked off staff and out of banished from seven step Society. We dated for almost a year. This woman is actually still a good friend of mine on Facebook. I was also kicked off Straight Staff because I had decided to stop restraining people and stopped making use of the time-out room because I didn’t see that it had anything to do with helping anybody get clean. Plus my best friend was a senior staff member who agreed with me so we started implementing these rules without the advance approval of the executives. I was booted right off staff and told I could not see any of my staff member friends and that I was banned from seven step Society for life. They also said that I had way too much power and influence and the ability to control groups of people and that I was no longer allowed around any of my friends which I made over the past two years. I was hit with the double whammy of being fired from staff and being permanently banished from Seven Step Society. The funny thing is when I got kicked off staff there were these two staff members who both resigned in protest of my firing.
I`ll add some more details right here about my firing from Straight. I was kicked off staff in the Fall of 1985. Never saw it coming. One day out of the blue I was called into an executive office room where a senior staff member and an executive were sitting and waiting for me. They start off by telling me that I was breaking the rules and that I had no right to abolish certain things without first Consulting the executives and getting their permission in advance. The funny thing that was it this senior staff member who I thought was a good friend of mine he sat with me when I was sick during straight and was always around and in that room he told me to sit up straight and show respect to the executive. I was in shock. I told him to f*** off. I told the executive to f*** off and I before I walked out I told him to never come around my house ever again and I never saw him after that again. That clown ended up with no friends because of the bad ways he treated me because all the other staff members came over and hung out with me at my house. The Cincinnati Straight program was shut down within six months after I got kicked off staff. However, I want to make it perfectly clear that yes the Cincinnati Straight program was eventually shut down but not because of anything that I ever did or didn`t do. The closing down of Straight had nothing to do with me at all. A lot of the newcomers that I ran into on the streets and in other places said it was because of me because I was the only staff member there that honestly cared about them and that there was a lot of rebellious in straight after I left because people were afraid to start being restrained again. That was the only thing that I feel good about when I left that place. I still have 60 or more letters from people in the program who say that I helped them. A pull is simply somebody who was taken out of the program by their family or the courts. A “pull” is what other Straight Inc locations refer to as a “withdraw.” There was no possible way they were going to try to put me through a mini program because I had way too much influence on people and I was still clean. I wasn’t doing drugs or doing anything else that I shouldn’t do.
I had been a staff member at Cincinnati Straight for 8 or more months. During those 8 or more months I had to put in between 40 to 60 hours a week. I made somewhere between $100.00 to $150.00 a week. The pay for the staff members was a total joke. Yeah they were always very cheap bastards.
The first three months after I was kicked off Staff and not allowed around any members of 7 step Society of my friends was a very difficult time for me. The only person I spent a lot of time with was the woman I was dating who was a pull from the program. We were basically together everyday and in the evenings. My mother and father would move down here from Michigan and lost everything and then blamed me of course for doing drugs in the first place. My father was a doctor back in Michigan. My father was a very skilled dentist and oral surgeon. However because of the insane demands of the Straight program on all the parents plus the fact that my mother was so manipulated by the program that she moved down here to Cincinnati and totally abandoned my father and our home in Michigan. My father wanted to be with the family so he basically abandoned his Medical practice and our home in Michigan and moved down here to Ohio and we lost everything because of the poor choices they made. My parents were both in total denial so of course they blamed me because they didn’t want to take responsibility for their irrational decision to move to Ohio when I was further along in the program on Fourth phase, so they conveniently used me as a scapegoat. At that time I had a 7 stepper staying with me who didn’t give a s*** about the seven Step Society anyways. He was staying with us because his parents kicked him out of the house. He didn’t get along with his parents because of the program. He was very resentful and he often argued with his mother. I was taking him home one day in his bags were all on the driveway. We picked them up loaded them in my car. I moved him in the basement with me he had a very controlling mother just like mine.
My mother and I hated one another but because of financial reasons we all stayed together. I lived in the basement with the other seven stepper. The only friends I really had was him and the woman I was seeing because I wasn’t allowed around the other seven steppers plus the fact that all of my closest friends all went back to Michigan after they graduated the program. It was lonely because I didn’t know where I fit in after always being told not to be around people with long hair and earrings and that listen to rock music and smoke cigarettes you find yourself alone because that’s what most teenagers did. I got myself a job at a gym and even after the program I stayed alcohol and drug-free for 7 years. That gym was called Scandinavian Health Club and it was in Montgomery Ohio. While working at the the gym, one of the staff members of Cincinnati Straight became a member. One day at the gym I remember going up to him and saying, “Hey a****** I’ve been clean now for two years without your f****** program or the stupid seventh step Society.” To be honest with you I felt like just grabbing him by his hair but I decided not to do a damn thing. It wasn`t worth it. His only response to me was, “Good for you.” The other Straight Executives I ran into was selling f****** encyclopedias in the Tri County Mall in Springdale,Ohio. I just walked by laughing. I was thinking to myself, damn, I ran into two Executives in the last six months who we used to bow down to and Kiss Ass too, who aren’t even really functional in Society any longer and yet they controlled and destroyed so many lives when they worked for Straight.
To be honest I was glad that I rebelled all the times that I did and made my program so damn long because I knew what they were the first time I ever saw them. Nevertheless, in those months right after being fired from Straight it was very difficult to find myself in discover where I fit in, in The World because of the constant pounding and brainwashing I wasn’t sure any longer what I needed to do to be happy.
You know it’s strange while I’m sitting here and also the most ironic thing is on some weird level I actually miss some of those horrible, dark days because I had probably the best friendships in my life because of all the terrifying struggles we all went through in there. The sad thing is most of those guys are dead or are in prison. I miss them. It`s really f***** up and sad.
*That Unforgettable Pond* When I copped out during that frigid Cincinnati winter morning in February of 1984, I had that miserable pond experience by falling through the ice into the freezing cold water. The following Spring of 1984 on a warm and sunny day, a clever newcomer ran through the doors in the group room of the Straight Building and he also hopped that very same barbed wire fence I did and he jumped into the warm pond and he swam right to the middle of that pond. The warm water was right up to his neck and he decided to just stay there and chill. He stayed right there in the middle of the pond for an hour or longer while staff members and oldcomers surrounded the pond on land and tried sweet-talking him into coming out of the pond and surrendering. None of the staff members and oldcomers wanted to get into that pond and climb into the water and all the mud and muck to get him out. He finally gave up and came out of that pond all soaking wet. Once on dry land he was beltlooped and marched back into the nightmarish building called Straight that he escaped from two hours earlier. Basically he was buried alive by the Straight Cult like so many others. Those one to two hours he spent standing in the middle of that pond with warm water up to his neck was a Trillion times better then all those months he spent being locked up inside the dark walls of Cincinnati,Straight. That pond was more of a friend to him then anyone he met from Straight.