In my previous posts, I explained how I got to S.A.F.E., a facility in the Troubled Teen Industry (TTI). In my last post, I talked about the different types of “raps” we’d do in between “motivating”. In my earlier posts, I explained that the only ways to leave S.A.F.E. were to die, run away and somehow not get caught, and complete the five phases and graduate. Here, I will explain phases, starting with Phases 1 and 2.
You are a “newcomer”. This is the most restrictive phase of treatment and lasted (on paper) 45 days. Really, though, it was whenever staff and the group thought you were ready, so it could last from months to even years (which is what happened with the guy I mentioned earlier). On the first phase, you were restricted to the building and “host homes”, and couldn’t go outside at all times.
Some Phase 1 Rules
- You had a higher phase client following you everywhere, even holding your belt loop if you were outside for a millisecond to get to one part of the building to the next.
- During group, if you had to use the bathroom, you sat with a hand out, forefinger and thumb pointing out, almost like the gun signal, so a higher phaser could escort you to, and watch you in the bathroom.
- If you were to go to sleep at night, you had to have your hands showing; even in the bathroom they had to see your hands (even when wiping).
The Reading Rule
You couldn’t read, and I mean ANYTHING. If you accidentally read a billboard, you would have to “get honest” and promptly admit to an upper phaser that “I read” or “I read in my head”.
This was so hard for me because I am an avid reader and I like nothing more than to get lost in a book. This escapism, of course, detracted from our “recovery” and we needed to be focusing solely on “our issues”. We could, however, have a higher phaser read us the Bible (minus Revelations) or recovery related literature.
We also couldn’t talk or write to anyone outside the program, including our family; despite this being advertised as a “family program”. We weren’t trusted enough to not “manipulate” our families to try to get us out of there.
Even telling the truth about the program was deemed manipulation. Every Friday we had what was called “Family Meeting”. We would all meet in the big room, us sitting ramrod straight and singing “lean on me”, and the parents getting their turns to stand us up in group and yell at us for how horrible we were.
It was during these meetings that we were told we earned higher phases, or were dropped, and our families could respond accordingly. During first phase, we could earn “talks,” which were ten-minute supervised talks with our parents that consisted of us sharing a past incident we felt guilty about in the format “I feel…about…because…”. We had to be careful, because excessive crying or emotion was deemed manipulation, and we wouldn’t earn our talks again, so we had to remain stoic, yet appropriately remorseful.
You are now considered an “oldcomer”. You are still resigned to the host
homes and the S.A.F.E. building all day (and can’t go outside), but you are no longer followed everywhere by an oldcomer. Instead, you get your very own newcomers who you have to watch their hands, in the bathroom, etc.
Also, in the first phase, you can’t go to your own home as a host home, but now you can, if your family sets up the appropriate measures: ensures there is an alarm on every window and door, and sets up a “phase room”. This is where we all sleep, on mattresses, with alarmed windows and doors, with an oldcomer in front of the door to avoid escape. Like Phase 1, television, and radio is forbidden, but we can read recovery-related literature, and the Bible, (minus Revelations).
In my next post, I describe Phase 3 of S.A.F.E.’s five-phase program.
Surprised the Bible was used in our torture at S.A.F.E.?
Read this compelling piece about how Christians can support torture and still be Christians.