And the Fucked-Up Mommy Award goes to….

My mother locked me in a warehouse.

For 16 months.

Because her husband was molesting and beating me.

And I hit puberty and started fighting back.

She didn’t want to deal with a fighting, screaming teenager.

The warehouse was a “tough love” facility: Straight Inc. Straight called itself a drug rehab for kids. The ACLU called it “a concentration camp for throwaway teens.”

(This is called “motivating.” Motivating was how we asked for the right to speak in Straight. And how we “humbled ourselves.” Source:

It starts out like your standard Oprah-guest story: my father died when I was one.

My mother needed a place to live.

She shacked up with a guy with a foxy accent and a home.

The guy turned out to be a sadist, an alchie, a Chester Molester.

Ho-hum, almost, right?

But then I turned 12, and grew some balls, and got loud when the Chester fucked with me. Then I turned 13, and he beat me into a corner while my mother stood and watched. Then she didn’t move a muscle when I called out to her.

So I ran the hell away. I turned 14 in a homeless shelter for kids.

But then! Oh, then! With the Just Say No! campaign in full swing, Nancy Reagan and Princess Diana visited a branch of Straight, to witness the miracles being worked with child drug addicts.

(Personal photo from Straight Inc. survivor)

A distant relative saw the newscast and called my mother. Next thing you know, POOF! I’m being diagnosed as a drug addict (I’d smoked weed three times in my life), cavity-searched by a teen male staff member, and steered, with a fist clenching the back of my waistband, into the never-ending warehouse room.

To lay eyes on the rows and rows and rows of chairs.

Chairs filled with hundreds of teenage bodies.

Bodies with arms in the air, hands whipping around, heads bashing and cracking, left, right, front, back.

I was shoved into the front seat of this agony carnival and left there to rot. I wouldn’t be allowed to speak to my mother for the next eight months. At month eight, I earned the right to a 3-minute supervised “talk” with her, where I could recite only this: a “druggie incident from my past,” and the words “I’m sorry. I love you.”

I earned that right by finally confessing to the hundreds of brainwashed Straight clients that, in fact, I was a druggie scumbag. That I had made my stepfather molest and abuse me, by being a flirtatious preschooler. That it was all my own fault.

Those words were a winning lottery ticket for my mother. *Ting!* She was off the hook. No wonder she kept writing fat checks to Straight Inc. Thank God I was still getting Social Security from my father’s death.

For 16 months I sat in that warehouse, motivating and confessing to false sins. Twelve, 15, 18 hours a day.

I got “spit therapy.”

I went through the “spanking machine.”

I got punched and starved and stared at as I tried to move my bowels.

I watched as kids tried, hard, to kill themselves.

I watched those kids get screamed at, laughed at, slammed onto the floor by other children in a 5-point restraint.

I never saw the sun. I never saw the moon. I never had a friend.

My mother didn’t have to spend much time at Straight, as my warehouse was in Virginia, and later I was moved to the Boston branch. Out-of-town parents — we lived in Connecticut — only had to show up for the Friday night Open Meetings. So while I sat in the warehouse and motivated and confessed to false sins, my mother proceeded with life, minus one daughter.

My mother paid Straight to disappear me. She paid Straight to beat me and break me and cut off my balls. She paid to make sure I would never, ever dare to say to anyone, ever again, “You’re not allowed to hurt me.”

Originally published at