Shut Down New Haven Residential Treatment Center
Shut Down New Haven Residential Treatment Center
Why this petition matters
In September of 2010, I was 17 years old. I suffered from Bipolar type I disorder and an eating disorder. I was hiding a sexual assault that occurred when I was 13 from seniors at my high school. I was a good kid. I was a kind kid with a big heart. After an attempt to take my own life that almost killed me, I was sent to New Haven Residential Treatment Center's North Campus in Saratoga Springs, Utah. My parents were told it was the only way to save my life. They loved me and wanted to help me. But they were lied to by deceptive marketing tactics and fear-mongering, when they were at their most vulnerable from my almost dying. The billion-dollar Troubled Teen Industry preyed on their yearning for my well-being and my safety.
I now work with Unsilenced to dismantle The Troubled Teen Industry and provide evidence-based, alternatives to sending children to Troubled Teen Industry (TTI) programs.
While I lead a happy life today, my childhood was robbed from me by New Haven Residential Treatment Center. I will never get that time of my life back. I may be healing, but the scars are still there. I lost my closest friends because of New Haven RTC. I never got to walk at graduation, despite graduating from my high school back home. I developed academic trauma and burnout from the stress of graduating my high school back home at New Haven RTC. My parents and I struggled with our family relationship for a long time after. I developed a mistrust of people and authority figures. I developed C-PTSD from New Haven RTC, and they made my eating disorder worse, while not properly treating my Bipolar Type I Disorder. Today, I am married to a wonderful man, we own a home, we have the sweetest dog, and I have repaired my relationship with my parents who love me very much and have done everything they can to help me. But this is not thanks to New Haven. This is despite New Haven. I am stronger than New Haven. I have a happy life despite the trauma of spending my senior year of high school at New Haven, being abused.
What I needed was:
- Evidence-based therapy
- To be heard, seen, and validated
- Tools/coping skills to help myself
What I got was:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Religious abuse
- Chemical abuse
- Non-evidence-based behavior-modification tactics
But my story is NOT an isolated incident.
Here are the facts about New Haven RTC:
- New Haven Residential Treatment Center is an insidious program because they deceptively market themselves as “one of the good programs.” They boast horseback riding, fitness classes, meditation, Yoga, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). But the horses are mistreated, and rarely, if at all, used for riding. Horse “chores” (manual labor) are often used as punishment for breaking a rule. DBT is rarely, if ever taught or used. Yoga and mediation and classes never happen. The fitness classes are forced, and often used as punishment, while body-shaming the children in the program - some of which have eating disorders.
- New Haven has two campuses in Utah: North Campus in Saratoga Springs, Utah and South Campus in Spanish Fork, Utah. In January of 2018, a New Haven therapist, Jason Scott Calder, was a sentenced to seven years to life in prison for raping a teenage girl placed in the program at the South Campus location in Spanish Fork, Utah. The court ruled this as an isolated incident, but many survivors of New Haven RTC have reported that a staff or therapist sexually abused them. This is not an isolated incident, survivors are just too afraid to come forward about their own sexual abuse at the program. After all, who would believe a “troubled” teen?
- The staff at New Haven RTC are not licensed, qualified, experienced, or properly trained to work at a facility that claims to be a mental health facility. Some of the staff practicing “therapy” are not even licensed and do not even have a proper degree to legally do so. They practice “tough love” and behavior-modification tactics, such as isolation/solitary protocol, rape reenactments, forced manual labor, and brainwashing tactics. The children placed at New Haven RTC are often physically abused via unnecessary and excessive restraint and manual labor, emotionally abused through brainwashing and “breaking” their spirits, sexually abused behind closed doors, and subjected to religious abuse and conversion therapy behind closed doors.
- The Troubled Teen industry is rooted in one of America’s most dangerous and deadly cults: Synanon. New Haven RTC practices a form of “the game,” but they call it “community.” Community is when every child sits in a circle every night, sometimes for hours, tearing each other apart to receive favoritism among staff. The more one child tears down another peer, the more they are seen as “working the program.” New Haven also uses a levels system from suicide watch to level 5. These level systems determine the privileges the children have and how they are treated. A child can be dropped a level at any time for something as trivial as sneaking a cheese-stick outside of meal hours.
- New Haven is run predominantly by Mormons. While I respect all religions so long as they are not weaponized to harm anyone, religious abuse happens at New Haven RTC. Mormon values are forced on the children placed there from how they dress, to how they act, to what they read, to what music they are allowed to listen to - if they are allowed to listen to music at all. Many New Haven survivors have expressed that they were coerced into moving to Utah, sometimes moving in with their therapist or a staff, and converting to Mormonism. Some survivors of New Haven RTC did, in fact, convert to Mormonism and move in with a staff or their therapist. This is not okay.
- New Haven is quiet about this, but while conversion therapy is illegal in Utah, children placed at New Haven RTC are told their sexuality or gender are either a symptom of their mental illness or that they are just “acting out for attention.” New Haven quietly practices conversion therapy via brainwashing and breaking the spirits of the children placed there, labeling them as “bad kids,” and stripping them of their authentic identity.
- New Haven is notorious for over-medicating children placed there to make them more compliant. Many children have reported being on anywhere from 7-14, heavily-sedating psychotropic medications at one time while at New Haven to make them more compliant with New Haven's draconian rules.
- New Haven has also reportedly cut the hair of Black children placed in their program after denying them proper haircare products for Black hair. This is racist and a form of abuse.
- New Haven practices a tactic called “interventions.” One example of this is forcing children to carry a backpack full of rocks around as a “lesson” or punishment. They may only remove one rock at a time, when a staff or therapist deems it okay, because they were compliant to ridiculous rules. Most people without mental illness or trauma couldn’t even follow the lengthy and draconian New Haven RTC rule book. Another example of this is isolation protocol. Children at New Haven are sent to live outside in a tent, sometimes in the dead of winter, and not allowed to talk to anyone as either a punishment or as a “way to grow.” New Haven sometimes withholds snacks or meals from children as punishment as well, and students are often underfed for the labor they do. This is behavior modification and pseudoscience. This is not evidence-based treatment.
- New Haven is difficult to work with from an academic perspective. Many children placed in New Haven wish to gradate from their high school back home as it probably has a better reputation than New Haven’s school. Staff and "therapists" at New Haven threaten to not send tests to the child’s school back home if they do not follow the asinine rule book, such as making their bed a very specific way, or for trying to tell their parents what is really happening at New Haven while on a monitored phone call, before the call is cut short and the child is accused of lying and being manipulative. Yes, all phone calls are monitored, and high school diplomas are dangled in front of the children at New Haven, to make them compliant. Many survivors of New Haven RTC report never graduating high school due to New Haven's failure to provide them with a proper education.
- New haven RTC is owned by InnerChange, run by CEO, Dave Prior. Children placed in New Haven RTC are cut off and isolated from the outside world, all phone calls and contact with the outside world are monitored and cut off. If a child tells a parent, or an advocate from back home, about the abuse they are enduring, they are accused of lying about it - and accused of being "manipulative" because they "don't want to work the program."
- The cost to send a child to New Haven is equivalent to one or more Harvard tuitions, depending on how long they are forced to stay there against their will, missing out on their childhood. Some children stay at New Haven for over three years against their will. New Haven RTC needs to be shut down - and the therapists and staff who abuse the children placed in New Haven RTC need to be held accountable.
Sign this petition to show support for shutting down New Haven Residential Treatment Center. I survived. No other child should have to survive the torture and abuse I endured.
Shut down New Haven Residential Treatment Center. Protect kids from child abuse, disguised as treatment.
For more information on The Troubled Teen Industry visit the Unsilenced Website.