Surviving Adult Reports Childhood MSbP Torture: Part 13 – Admission to S.A.F.E.

In my previous posts, I initially describe how my Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP) mom, who was also a psychiatrist, first misdiagnosed me (and all of Cape Cod) with Lyme disease and then fed us OxyContin, then evolved into kidnapping me and locking me in facilities in the troubled teen industry (TTI), saying I had bipolar disorder and was a drug addict. Now, after finally escaping Red Rock Canyon School, I was admitted to S.A.F.E.

Out of the Frying Pan and Into the FireMarijuana joint

How did I get to S.A.F.E.?  I went all the way from Utah to Orlando,FL in about a year.  It was only about a year between the time I was released from Red Rock and admitted to S.A.F.E.

A lot happened in that year.  I was living with my mother (great idea, huh?), and from what she admitted to me before, she began using drugs with me solely for the purpose of sending me to treatment.  She told me that if she began smoking pot with me, she knew I would do other things and then she would just ship me off! That is exactly what she did.  I don’t know how she found the place; it was so obscure.  I don’t know what drew her to this treatment modality either.

An Omen: The Guy in the Auditorium

Teenage boy onlyWe had moved to Florida, and before I ended up in S.A.F.E., I remember when I first started my new high school in Orlando, Oakridge (or Jokeridge, as we called it), I saw this strange guy in the auditorium.  He was very clean cut, with short brown hair and a striped collared shirt tucked into some khakis.  He was just sitting on the bleachers not talking to anyone; facing forward.  I caught his eye, and he quickly looked away.  I thought, how strange he seemed, and someone who I was sitting with told me he was in this program.  I just shrugged it off, but little did I know this would be a sign of horrible things to come.

Intake at S.A.F.E.

I don’t remember how exactly my mom got me to go with her.  It probably was as simple as a doctor’s appointment.  When we pulled up into the parking lot of what looked like an abandoned strip mall, and there was no signage, I began to get a little worried.  We walked into a very small and dingy looking reception area with a perky blonde sitting at the front desk, saying someone will be right with us.  Something was wrong here, or this was the shoddiest looking doctors office I had ever been in.

A little while later two plainly dressed teenage girls came and escorted me to an interview room.  I don’t remember saying goodbye to my mother, or at the time, really comprehending what was happening.  It was probably like a deja vu, with Red Rock.  This time though, it was much worse.

I was shuffled into what seemed like a closet with one girl guarding the door and the other accosting me with sheet after sheet of questions, telling me to be “completely honest” because it would all come out eventually.  I was asked question after question about sex, sexuality, and of course my drug use.  I believe I tried to be as honest as possible, because I was assured this was just an assessment.

I was 16 at the time and I had dabbled in drugs, experimenting with various substances, but I wasn’t a drug addict.  Did it count that my mother had used with me, and supplied me with marijuana and Ativan?

The sexual questions were a little disconcerting as well.  Have I ever had sexual activity with an animal????  What kind of place was this?

Stripping My Identity

Women holding clothes

After my interrogation which seemed to last for hours, it was time to commence with the degradation ceremony by stripping myself of my “druggie clothes” thereby beginning to separate my past from my present.  I was given clothing that I suppose had already been purchased by my mother.  A plain shirt that I had to tuck into plain jeans or khakis.

Before I could clothe myself however, I had to be thoroughly searched by one of these teenage girls which consisted of her searching my hair, mouth, and a good ol’ prison-quality squat and cough!  I remember being so humiliated!  Despite my Red Rock experience, I wasn’t prepared to be treated like a prisoner, before I had committed a crime, and by another teenager no less!

I was then led by these two girls one with a good grip on my belt loop to a dusty cement room.  The floor and walls were gray, scarcely decorated with the twelve steps on the wall, and maybe some other inspirational poster.  The sound hit me first; it was like a wind tunnel interspersed with grunts and hisses.  I looked up to see rows of blue chairs with teenagers in them; males and females separated and a tall stool up front with a staff member commanding the attention of these teens.

The Guy from the Auditorium Again

The strangest part of all, was what they were doing-wildly flapping their arms and upper torso; heads bobbing; spit and sweat flying.  This,Clapping and stepping I came to learn, was called motivating, and what I was soon to learn was that they were all doing that to get the attention of staff, so they could be called on to speak in group.

I was led by these two girls to where I was to sit: in the front, on the female side of the room, where the staff could keep an eye on me.  As I was being led, like a sheep to the slaughter  to my seat, that is when I saw him.  It hit me.  He was the guy that I saw at Oakridge!  The strange one!  This wasn’t going to be good.

Before I sat I was introduced to group in this format:

“Group, this is Mariel. The drugs she has used are….. Her drug of choice is…. and she has not admitted to being a druggie.”

The group’s response, in unison, a deranged chant:


Then they resumed that wild flapping, er motivating and as I sat, all I could think was what…the…fuck??

In my next post, I’ll introduce you to what it was like being a “S.A.F.E.ling”.

Have you ever been imprisoned in S.A.F.E.? Do you remember “motivating”?

If so, please comment below!

Photographs by Raihan Rana, Conception LevyElizabeth Ashley Jerman, and Laura SA of English Wikipedia.


One thought on “Surviving Adult Reports Childhood MSbP Torture: Part 13 – Admission to S.A.F.E.

  1. I was never incarcerated in that sort of institution, but I remember vividly my young brother-in-law’s reaction to a similar program. He became adept at escaping (and I use the word advisedly), and spent most of his 20s recovering from the well-meant but skewed efforts to help him when he was a “troubled” teen. Plain and simple? He encountered a program where everyone chanted his name in greeting the first day, as you describe, and then chanted “the rules”. He never has shared what they were, but he preferred a second round of “Outward Bound”. Not good.
    Am hoping a few of my cousins read this. We’re from a family of parents who survived MSbP, and the downstream flow of the psychological consequences? Yeah. Here’s hoping more voices join the discussion.


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