Josh Akramoff's story, undated
Much like a war, or a tragic event, I look back at Spring Creek Lodge Academy. Like a bad dream or chill of fear down my spine, I remember. No matter how hard I try, forgetting that two years of my life is not possible.
I was fourteen and I, one of few, gave my consent to go to Spring Creek Lodge. At the time, I just wanted to leave home; I could not imagine a place that could have been worse. I was wrong, and I soon learned that. My dad told me three months; he was wrong, and I soon learned that. I was one of the youngest ones there, and got picked on, of course. Being picked on at Spring Creek equated into a loss of points, which led to more time there. Soon I got into some trouble, and was sitting in my small booth staring at the wall, when my family representative told me that my parents had already signed a twelve-month contract. Having been the day after my fifteenth birthday, I felt hopeless. A year later I would find that it was a lie; however, I would not leave until I graduated from Spring Creek Lodge.
I went crazy, I wanted out. Helpless, hopeless, and alone I decided to wait until I was eighteen. I went to “the hobbit.” It was a small building with urine and feces on the walls, floors, and bunks. It smelled of bleach in a sad attempt to clean the repulsive mess. The other two rooms were full of other kids that were being unruly. I sat quietly until about four of them came into my room. They brought pillowcase that had knots tied in the ends of them, there was no hesitation to hit me with them. I heard the staff in the background “ hey guys knock it off,” when they finally did, everything hurt; I was bruised and weak. Next time just one of them came in. He told me to get on my knees in front of him. I said “no,” at seventeen he easily over powered me. He pulled me off of the top bunk, and hit me until I was on my knees in front of him, then he unzipped his pants called me many names and punched me in the face. It happened again with another guy. I left the next morning bruised dirty, and beaten. I would be made fun of for that night the rest of my program, mostly by the staff. My parents were never told, until I had to eight months later.
It was just a sign as to what was to come. I soon realized I would rather die than stay at Spring Creek. Of course, they stopped me; however a year later, one girl would succeed and hang herself by her own belt.
We were encouraged to share about our life and problems. They said it was safe and confidential. I did share, and was criticized by the staff that ran the place. I shared about having been molested when I was younger. I had been molested physically; now, Spring Creek was molesting me mentally. The only way-out, it seemed was to turn eighteen, or to be sent away to Tranquility Bay, Jamaica. They told me that they would beat me, and I would never get out, I will never know.
It was time to try “working the program.” To do this, you had to turn on the same people that were in the same boat as you. I did. Being assaulted became a daily occurrence. I tried to find balance. It was up and down for many more months, the hardships got harder, and the day came when I was seventeen years old, that I would leave Spring Creek Lodge.
It left me in pain. While I was there, I developed the most alone and helpless feeling. After twenty-five months, I would go home to very much, the same household. I missed much of the maturing stages of my life, I left afraid and unsure. Having grown up in Spring Creek Lodge, I could not picture life without it. I knew nothing about the outside world anymore, I had not talked to a girl in over a year, and I did not even know whom the president was.
Now I think of how I was used, manipulated, and hurt. The pain I felt, even wanting to die, if it meant leaving that place. Spring Creek, and some events, I would regret my whole life. After getting out and seeing how little had changed, even in other graduates, I felt even more lost. Institutionalized, all I knew, I hated. Now, almost a year later, I am still afraid and alone. Still running, and still hiding. That fourteen-year-old boy is a distant memory, but his pain will forever be a part of me.
That pain, every person at Spring Creek felt, in all W.W.A.S.P programs. Not only does it not work; it destroys lives, hopes, and dreams. Being home, nothing has changed, but compared to Spring Creek, things are great. Every day, I feel different than everyone else. Like I had a lobotomy, something is missing. The worst pain, came from what was “fixing,” me.