About me

I'm just a believer that is recovering from my experience at Teen Mania's Honor Academy and I would like to share my journey of healing with you.

November 8, 2011

Honor Academy Offical Response to Recovering Alumni

The Honor Academy website now features a page entitled "Recovering Alumni Information." I'd like to discuss it point by point.

- Many stories and claims publicized by the group are done so in anonymity, which makes it challenging to verify facts or engage in a resolution focused conversation.

Which of my factual claims are anonymous?

- The one where you lied to KLTV about feeding cat food during ESOAL? Or the one where you lied about ESOAL being based on the military?

- Or maybe the one where Heath Stoner coerced an intern into lying to me, cutting off contact with me and participating in ESOAL?

- Or maybe the one where the Board of Directors solicited our stories and promised a long, through investigation carried out by independent experts but instead delivered a hastily put together website made by friends of TM?

Exactly just how challenging can it be to verify these facts? A couple of weeks ago, Heath openly challenged me on facebook to retract my comments about Dave lying if he could prove me wrong. I have yet to receive any evidence.

As far as anonymous stories go, most victims don't want to openly confront their abuser because of you know, THE ABUSE. The names don't matter anyway - their stories RESONATE with many alumni. They aren't isolated incidents.

- Comments and statements made and allowed by this group have at many times been accusatory, sometimes mean-spirited, in nature and do not communicate a desire to “seek to understand” or to allow for rebuttal or disproof of information. Attempts to correspond in a polite and respectful manner have often lead to fruitless arguing on both sides.

In fact, in the early days of this blog Teen Mania was given much respect and grace to listen and respond. However, when we shared our stories, they chose to betray our trust with their fake investigation as linked above. It was only after being lied to and betrayed that my/our tone became "accusatory."

tl:dr: Telling lies with a smile is superior to telling the truth with a frown.

- One of the lead members of this group has communicated their desire is to bring down the Honor Academy and that nothing less will be satisfactory.


I am not sure who they are referring to here, but it most certainly is not me.

- A member of this group is a self proclaimed atheist, which will make it challenging, possibly impossible, to fully agree on the standards and accountability required by Teen Mania, since the mission is unquestionably based on a statement of faith that is Christian.


Last I checked we aren't asking for anything unScriptural or unChristian: honesty, transparency, accountability & LOVE. Are those not Christian anymore?

Understanding this information has pushed us to walk in peace when interacting with this group and to walk in mercy and forgiveness towards them despite the retaliatory hurt levied on several of our staff members. While not always easy, remembering this information has become an important component of developing our own character as a ministry.


This response is so ridiculously inadequate and incorrectly portrays our MANY, MANY attempts to dialogue with Teen Mania, including a significant attempt to reach out to the Board of Directors last year.

Notice that Teen Mania does not actually address the substance of any of our concerns/allegations/etc. Their entire strategy seems to be an attempt to shift the focus off their shady practices and lies and back onto us. They don't want anyone looking too closely at what really goes on and what their real track record is. Don't be fooled by smooth talk from professional salesmen. Look at the facts.

If the facts that I've published are lies, they could easily refute them. They have not done so. That should tell you everything you need to know.

122 comments:

As the "self-proclaimed atheist" they speak of, I would like to say that I think their response is BS.

What I love most is that they provide no evidence for their claims, despite the fact that the RA blog has provided evidence for all of its claims.

Amazing!

More fluff from them; I guess that it's not surprising anymore. It just seems so heartless of them.

This comment has been removed by the author.

"- One of the lead members of this group has communicated their desire is to bring down the Honor Academy and that nothing less will be satisfactory."

Is that a reference to my post on the forum? I'm not sure I qualify as a "lead member"... it's just the only example I can think of, but the claim publicized by the HA is done so without specificity, which makes it challenging to verify facts or engage in a resolution focused conversation. No sarcasm either, it really is hard when Mica is consistently providing references and links, etc, while the HA gives stand-alone statements like that.

They're not even concerned that their attempts at Christian discipleship produced a "self-proclaimed atheist." Shows a bit of a failure in their methods, eh Shannon? ;-)

I like that in their world view, only ONE member of this group is a self-proclaimed atheist.

Heath asked on the directors blog what alumni's parent thought/think about our decision to go to HA and I replied. Heath said that he wanted to win back my respect and know some specifics. I gave him my email address and should note that from the start I gave my full name. Heath then emailed me to set up a phone conversation with him this Wednesday.

A variety of things made me feel unsafe to speak on the phone to him so I emailed him back on Sunday to say I was uncomfortable right now and preferred email. I also included a lot of my story and the abusive lessons learned there. I asked him questions as well about the live they seem to be missing, etc.

I have not heard back from Heath, even to acknowledge I had canceled our phone call or say that he would get back to me. If he responds, I will continue to tell the truth and be respectful and transparent.

But after some of the hateful comments directed at me and other alumni on this blog yesterday, this TM response is really heartbreaking.

"Understanding this information has pushed us to walk in peace when interacting with this group and to walk in mercy and forgiveness towards them despite the retaliatory hurt levied on several of our staff members. While not always easy, remembering this information has become an important component of developing our own character as a ministry."


It really says that on their response site. Seriously, do these people not understand how to apologize? They are the victims now because people are telling the truth about them?

That's like a father who abuses his child saying, "I forgive the child I was molesting for telling the police the facts about my abusive behavior. I am now in pain too because jail is calling my name."

Shannon,

Heath WILL NOT communicate via email. He will insist that you communicate on the phone! We have been round and round with him on this.

Thinks A Lot--

The entirety of the alumni body and TM staff did not get the official word that they are to walk in peace.

Apologies are for mamby-pamby Christians.

is there anyway to absolve your relationship to TM? I really feel like my association with them won't help, but possibly hinder me in the long run. I didn't have a negative time there, per se, because I'm pretty outgoing (the place is built for outgoing people), have a semi athletic background, and I'm great at following orders...

I've wondered why I felt so numb since I graduated...I just thought I was different than my friends back home...in the past day (since the documentary) I've felt alive, for the first time in years...I feel like a real human, or something. I just feel stupid for listening to their lies and NOT questioning. I'm a mild case, as I wasn't really sucked into the HA life, or didn't think so, until I graduated.

I really thought there was some sort of sin in my life that was bringing me emotional trauma and turmoil...and people in all areas of my life tell me often how much I beat myself up about things. and I consider my "case" as mild compared to much of what I've read here and heard from others. MY CA apologized to me for anything he might have said that would have been just childish blabber that he didn't understand. which is what the majority of TM "leadership" is.

but yeah, I want nothing to do with that place at all. is there a way to just make it all go away?

Hi anon, your experiences are so familiar and I am sorry for your numbness and resultant self-abuse. I have it too.

I think the short answer is that we all have to heal in our own ways. For me, jumping into this community and journaling daily is necessary. I do not believe though that we can do anything to just make it go away. I believe we have to let ourselves feel what we feel and re-learn a lot of lessons.

God bless you.

Heath has responded to me this morning that he would like to share my story I sent him with the staff and he will remove my name. I replied that I have nothing to hide and no interest to protect my anonymity and he may share my story.

Of course I find it frustrating that no responses to my questions were made.

He then sent a second email to ask what I would change at TM and said it is too bad I will not talk on the phone.

"Understanding this information has pushed us to walk in peace when interacting with this group and to walk in mercy and forgiveness towards them despite the retaliatory hurt levied on several of our staff members. While not always easy, remembering this information has become an important component of developing our own character as a ministry."

Oh, bless their hearts. They really believe this bc if they don't believe this then they have to actually legitimately look at the corruption and abuse within the organization. They lose everything. Including their endless supply of pay-to-work profit labor.

I personally think the program should be shut down.

I tried to comment and it wasn't the party line...but it was about healing and forgiveness. Are you moderating truth like you say the HA is?

Charlene - I don't believe I've seen the comment you are referring to. I don't think it went through.

Charlene, if you didn't do the Captcha it doesn't submit. This is different from in the past, if you've commented before.

One of the big cries in response to Mind Over Mania and the RA blog in general is "The documentary should have been less biased! RA needs to show a balanced perspective and show both side sof the story!". Alright, so is the HA going to start being unbiased and talk about the horror stories in all the literature, commercials, etc. that they put out? Will RA's be invited to speak on their experiences and the damage done to them at Preview Weekends? You know, all in the interests of being "unbiased" and "showing both sides of the story". Will the pro-TM blogs share the stories of sexual and physical abuse, injuries being ignored, interns being told to just pray and have faith instead of seeking medical care, etc.?

@ Shannon Kish, Your comment made me laugh.

@ Charlene

Also, if you have an ad block program it can block the capcha box and make it where you can't see it so maybe that is the issue? I had that problem earlier, but I changed my settings and it works now.

In as much as you did it to the Recovering Alumni community, you did it unto me.

RA-
"One of the lead members of this group has communicated their desire is to bring down the Honor Academy and that nothing less will be satisfactory.

I am not sure who they are referring to here, but it most certainly is not me. "

We had a little exchange about this issue in a comment on one of your posts awhile ago, and honestly i feel like i never got a straight answer out of you. It really does seem like the only thing that would satisfy you would to see TM completely shut down.

I'm interested- could you comment on what you really would like to see come out of all this?

I want to see interns quit being abused - plain and simple.

Okay.

So it all comes down to how we define the word "abuse."

Let's try this:

Do you think this video shows abusive treatment?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GYYle0hTUc

I am SO looking forward to your response- honestly, not sarcastic. I feel like I might finally be getting somewhere in truly understanding this movement!

I ask God that you would break up the fallow ground of my heart! of our hearts! Jesus that we would run to you with as much energy and passion that we have in blogging about this. Jesus you are our healer! Help! Jesus I ask that you would remove the plank from my own eye. I ask that you would forgive me for my bitterness towards the H.A. and you and that you would heal me and make me brand new. I ask that you would create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us! Where there was hardness of my heart create from nothing a pure heart where there was resentment create forgiveness and healing and compassion and peace! Help God! Thank you that you are my healer!
Dismissed Intern of 2003

Many of you know my discussions I have half a mind to make them fully public so there can be no mistake that there was no understanding and no actual apology. I get tired of the "we have tried to dialog...." Comments when a 100 email record and upwards of 40 phone calls later I have not one answer from ANYONE at Teen Mania Ministries and Kids keep getting hurt and being told the same things to this day. It is impossible for me to believe they are believing their own words if they are unwilling to even make simple health and wellness based changes!

Yes, I am that awful, horrible, no morals atheist. They can't possibly talk to me about the HA because it is too complex for me to understand... you know religion and all. Oh wait, I was a member of the cult for a year and I was a Christian for over 15 years.

What sucks is that no overall resolution will come about until they own up to what happened. They could apologize and offer counseling so that people could grow together in love instead of apart. This could have been a real growth opportunity for the program/organization.

I hope that those hurt by TM will not allow TM's non-response to hinder their personal growth. It is hard to forgive someone who doesn't realize they've done wrong, but it is essential so that we may grow. Sometimes people are just jerks and thats just it. You can't expect something from them that they are not capable of offering. I think it is sad that I have now thought of them as un-teachable and lacking in understanding and mercy:Everything they taught us not to be.

Lisa Marie,

I'm not sure what you are trying to imply here.

The difference between the video you shared and TM's HA is that the man/coach beside the "Brock" character is encouraging, loving, saying you can do this, He is getting down in the dirt with the guy saying, It's not too hard. The coach is saying he needs him. Never did TM say, "i need you." They say, "you need us." That coach is not facilitating a harsh environment saying hurtful things with a blow horn and a huge ego boost for watching someone crawl through the dirt. Or facilitating a group of kids by provoking them or arousing them to an unhealthy emotion so that the kids will be conformed to carrying out an agenda forced on to them by tons of Thought reform and ill mannered, morally incorrect, propaganda and teaching.

That coach is showing tenderness. Even if he wanted to I doubt very seriously that coach would ever call them "Nambly PambY" or guilt them for being 2 minutes late for class after giving Him everything they had even to the point of exhaustion. I don't think the coach on the video would push that boy past a breaking point of no return or make him lose his sense of self. (self respect) And then not care what happens to his player after he, the coach, has used him up and spit him out.


Because that is what the program of the HA does to people.

No, I don't think that coach is at all doing what TM does to people.

Very different scenerios here. Big difference.

Jesus I invite your presence into this blog... We need your healing, your love, your truth, your Mercy and your Help! Please come into this conversation, I invite you to bring your spirit! Come Jesus for we have none but you! no therapy, group, book or anything can fix the core of our destructive wounded heart like you! Come God!

Ok guys. Let's not blame RA and the girls for the film. They didn't make it - they allowed cameras to come and film them - that's it. There was a Producer who did all the leg work and who worked with an editor to create the final cut. I agree with the criticsm that ESOAL footage was predominant - but at the crux of the issue the show was about Thought Reform - that is the crux of the topic of the show. Teen Mania is guilty of it. Plain and simple. To get young people to roll down and hill and throw up in the name of Jesus - is not normal - and you can scream and cheer that it was optional all you want - but something happened in the thought process of these kids that they said - ok - I will particpate in this. Then as kids got uncomfortable and maybe wanted to ring out because they were doing crazy shit - they are encouraged by their peers to keep going.

I know what I'm talking about. I did ESOAL myself and I shot 8 hours of footage that was edited into the 2002 "documentary" - I got footage of people bawling their eyes out - people throwing up - and yes CAT food - lots of CAT food that was at ESOAL - sorry TM leaders that want to lie about it - it was there. Kids can want a challenging experience all they want and although the cross walk had some safety concerns - that activity seems way better of an adventure than this. Funny that this activity has safety concerns - yet it continues. I will never forget that poor girl going up to the bell just before they were to announce that it was over. She was so weak and exhausted and could barely ring the bell. She immediately went into heaps of sobbing on the ground. I stood there filming probably thinking "this is great footage" - complete callous to what was really happening. Moments later ESOAL was announced as over - just as this girl had "quit." She continued to sob on the ground and you don't just got over something like that in few days. And she volunteered to go through that. Come on people - its wrong to do that to someone in the name of Jesus. The military exists for a reason - they also get paid - this stuff should stay there.

All this to say that the documentary wasn't just about the Honor Academy - it was about brainwashing - or the nice way of saying it thought reform - and there is some brainwashing present to get a child to eat bugs, crawl through holes crying, roll down a hill and do crazy stuff in the name of Jesus. So in conclusion the use of the footage throughout is appropriate since ESOAL may be the biggest proof of brainwashing at Teen Mania for so many people to come away and say that's ok. Yes - some people went through and some even had fun - that's great - but oh wait - its not for everyone - so if the HA isn't for everyone they why make them sign a statement to stay a year if they dont even know if its for them? Why then fight them when they would want to leave?

Lay off RA and the community for the film - the content isn't their fault. Also if you don't like the content of the film - its probably because the truth is stinging you in the face and your precious idol of Teen Mania is under the microscope - as it should be.

I agree with Layne that the place is too misguided to continue as it is. I think Teen Mania had it coming after that sham of a Board of Director's response. Love that song from "Chicago" - "They had it coming, they had it coming, they only have themselves to blame." They may try to put out fires now and my only prayer is that they run out of water.

Lisa Marie,

I watched the video - I'm honestly having a hard time even understanding how you think that is relevant to Teen Mania? A football practice has limited duration and scope. Its 2-4 hours long. There is accountability - if lots of team members are getting injured, you can bet that parents and administration will take measure to make sure things are as safe as possible (access to water, avoiding the heat of the day, etc). The goal is to strengthen your body, not tear it down. Etc. etc. There are almost no parallels with TM and ESOAL.

If the incident in this video has taken place about 60 hours into ESOAL on a sleep-deprived, injured person, who was told that this had to do with their spiritual life, then yes it would most definitely be abuse.

To be fair, on a surface level I can see how one might at least connect it with ESOAL/PEARL. It's pushing your body beyond the limits, etc. etc. Though I agree, the context in which the activity is performed makes it very different from the abuse found at Teen Mania.

Wow Lisa Marie, I don't see it either. That coach was encouraging him, not trying to break him down. He was pushing him to give his best, not telling him, as one can see in TM's footage (which was used in the MSNBC piece), that he was a "loser" (as said by Dave Hasz in one clip from ESOAL). There is a HUGE difference between the two pieces...HUGE!!!

Lisa Marie: That's not abuse. This is abuse!

(For best effect, the previous remark should of course be read in your best Crocodile Dundee accent.)

What happens when Goldman Sachs investigates itself? Nothing. What does an accused corporation do to its accusers? It denies everything and vilifies its accusers.

I recommend a spirit of activism here. So long as the discussion deals with Jesus and religion, both sides can point fingers at each other forever.

Don't expect an abusive cult to admit that it's a cult or that it abuses people. There will not be apologies. Stay away from discussions with the abusers. Of course the abusers would love a platform to address the abused and then they get the chance to say that nothing bad happened.

I wonder if legal council would not be appropriate for this movement. Could all people diagnosed with PTSD get together and file a class action suit against TM? Hitting them in their pocket books is a decent approach. Also, allowing the discussion to occur in a court of law dismisses all the Jesus talk and forces experts to examine whether these videos and stories legally constitute abuse. If you signed a contract before you entered, this makes no difference, unless you were told that you would experience abusive mind crippling training, but even then it doesn't matter.

If the group would like a referral to an attorney, just leave a comment and I'll refer one. If someone has already followed this kind of action, I'd love to know what advice you received.

Final comment - Do not sit down with your abusers hoping they'll hear you out, correct it, and everything will be OK. When a company makes the kind of cash which TM makes - it becomes more of a damage control, deny everything, vilify the accusers - kind of action.

I feel like I'm being prayed at.

Thinks A Lot, RA & Josh Kiracofe-
Okay, I was on my lunch break at work earlier and wrote my comment hastily, so I apologize being so vague, b/c I was obviously totally misinterpreted!
I *completely* agree with you guys that what happens at TM is different than what happens in this video. As Maurice Moss said, I do believe that there is a surface comparison in the sense that they are pushing the player beyond what he thinks is his limits- but in a totally different way than the way it happens at TM.
Here’s what I wanted to know by asking that question (and I should have said this in my comment but in my hurry I neglected to, and I’m sorry for that): If someone believes “abuse” is any level of pushing someone to do something they don’t want to do at first, I’m going to disagree. Sometimes we need that. Sometimes we underestimate ourselves, give in to laziness, or don’t recognize the importance of something until somebody calls us out on it and pushes us to work for it. That’s a good thing, and I support that.
It’s a gray area- how do you judge what is “good” pushing and what is “bad” pushing? Should it be all about whether the person being pushed comes out of it happy with the experience? I don’t know about that.. but I think it’s all about the heart behind why the person is doing it. I still believe the heart behind TM is a good one (RA, I know you completely disagree- and that’s okay!)
That’s why I can’t agree that TM should be shut down, and also why I don’t want there to continue to be two polarized sides of this argument where we are getting no closer to any level of reconciliation.
Thinks A Lot-
Now, your comment raised some other major questions for me. I was an intern from August 2004-2005. I felt like your comment made some major assumptions about others’ experiences at HA. Particularly these comments:
Never did TM say, "i need you." They say, "you need us."
Because that is what the program of the HA does to people.
I felt like TM said they needed us all the time! Honestly sometimes that has bothered me in the past- because so much of the labor of their ministry comes from teens who pay to be there, lol. But I really never felt like TM said “You need us,” i.e., if you didn’t have us you would suffer. Definitely not.
The stuff you described may have been what you experience at TM. I totally validate that and I am sorry you experienced it.
But just as my good (/okay/sometimes hard but also helpful in ways…) experience at TM does *not* negate your bad experience, your bad experience can’t negate my good experiences! It has to go both ways. Does that make sense?

@anon 4:37
I have wondered about the whole lawsuit thing too... but I do not want our intent to be misconstrued. We don't want fame, attention, money etc. We want the abuse to end.

So I'm more of the viral media mindset :-)

@Josh Kiracofe Ex-intern 00-01
We were there at the same time. I am glad (not sure if that's the word--maybe relieved...) to see a guy from that time over here understanding that was abuse. Sometimes I think I am just a pathetic girl who "wasn't right for Teen Mania."

I will never understand TM's obsession, yes obsession with playing the role of a drill sargent. Why???? Could they do it if Jesus was standing next to them in the flesh?

Abuse is not really in the eye of the beholder. It is not something that non professionals decide based on their feelings. It has more to do with psychological and physiological symptoms that persist after the abuse is over. PTSD is a very good indication of one having been abused. You might begin with the simple definitions:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_abuse
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_abuse
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_control

Lisa Marie,

You're right, it's an interesting question, and I can see the gray area. Karate Kid reference: Was Mr. Miyagi abusing Daniel when he made him wax on/wax off, sand the floor, and paint the fence? I'd guess most moviegoers would say no. Perhaps you have to look at it on a case-by-case basis.

In ESOAL/PEARL's case, though, I see two major differences (off the top of my head). First, the explanation of why Teen Mania thinks ESOAL/PEARL is a good idea is very bad theology. It may sound macho, and maybe if one's goal were to become impervious to emotional trauma, then it would be a good idea, but it's not Biblical, and it's not going to improve one's relationship with God. I place ESOAL alongside Teen Mania's insane misuse of 1. Cor. 9:27.

Second, ESOAL/PEARL has inconsistent fruit. Yes, I have heard of several people who have said that they went through a hard time in their life, and their experience with ESOAL helped them get through it. That's great, and I'm glad the retreat was helpful for them. On the other hand, however, we've seen a number of people who were hurt physically, emotionally, and psychologically during ESOAL, and are still trying to be healed from it. So it has some good and some bad results. Is it really worth continuing if it hurts so many people, even if some people claim it helps to varying degrees? I say no.

So then is ESOAL/PEARL abuse? Given its lack of biblical basis and its propensity to hurt people, I would say yes, it is.

A couple other things:

> "I still believe the heart behind TM is a good one (RA, I know you completely disagree- and that’s okay!)"

I don't want to speak on RA's behalf, but I think many of us believe that TM's heart is good, too. We don't think they are TRYING to hurt people, but they are, and probably don't realize it. I think they have good intentions, but are severly misguided.

> "That’s why I can’t agree that TM should be shut down, and also why I don’t want there to continue to be two polarized sides of this argument where we are getting no closer to any level of reconciliation."

This may surprise you, but I agree that there shouldn't be two sides. However, may people here blame Teen Mania leadership for the divide. Again, I don't want to speak for people, but I think several of the people who want TM shut down only think that because we have tried to get TM to change their abusive ways over and over, but leadership has refused to listen. They apoligize and feel bad for us, but will not make any significant change (unless they need to save face). Thus, in order to keep people from being abused, many people believe the leaders need to be removed, which would mean a shutdown of Teen Mania.

If the leaders would do more than feed bad for people that were hurt and actually repent and change their abusive ways, then I think people here might be OK with Teen Mania sticking around.

I have PTSD following my internship and have lost 6 teeth as a result of the PTSD TMJ. The dental costs are overwhelming. A lawsuit might not be a bad idea.....

Lisa Marie

Thanks for clarifying I appreciate that. I have posted in a hurry before as well. I am not the best at communicating without my expressions and hand motions. lol. I apologize for my comment. I don't want to negate your experience at the HA at all. I have had some good experiences while I was at the HA and especially during my missions trips.

Never did TM say, "i need you." What I should have said is, Teen Mania's actions did not appear to me to show that they appreciated the hard work and dedication each intern gave to them during my year. I am sure that there were people who expressed their need for the interns to do their jobs but it is hard for me to believe after watching the neglect and abuse that was happening all around me. It is my thought that TM may have needed us but they didn't want us to know that. Kind of like, Actions speak louder than words.


They say, "you need us." I shouldn't have used quotations. This is not what someone at TM said to me. Instead, it is my thoughts about how the interns are treated. I can only speak on what I saw my internship year and years of missions. However, it is my perspective that the thought reform and constant free labor the HA recieves from the interns acts more as leverage to keep them at bay. It seems to me that the interns develop a dependency on the HA even though the HA is in fact dependent on the interns.

Here's an example of what I'm saying. This is just a metaphor and maybe not even a good one. :) Someone may go buy a drug from the local drug dealer down the road. They are giving their money for the drug. They are infact, a constumer of that drug dealer. Yet, after awhile that drug becomes something that person needs. They have to have it. Even though that person is the one supplying the dealer with the money, they are still the one who needs the dealer/drug.

Both of these scenerios include the fact that the people who are giving the money and time do not get those things back if indeed things don't work out. Just one reason I think it is used as leverage.

I hope this makes a little more sense of what I was trying to say. Thanks for responding to me.

Anonymous @ 4:37 - EXCELLENT thoughts. Please give me any information about seeking legal counsel. recoveringalumni at hotmail dot com

I've been to counseling...explained everything that I was feeling and why I thought why. The counselor said he thought it very well could be PTSD, teen mania was never discussed though. Never thought that might be what it was from...I was also recommended to contact a lawyer, and I did. I'm waiting on the response now. I don't want to sue anyone, but I don't think this place should be allowed to operate anymore.

I still have friends or know people there, they would argue this with me fully, I'm sure. I am very close with people I interned with, and I've had this conversation with them in the past two days (about the negative effects of TM) and though they said the same things aren't true for them (my CA said he was very misguided and didn't understand a lot of things then...duh) they heard me out. I don't think the leadership there would be as humble and gracious with me though, and that scares me/kind of sucks a lot.

Like I said earlier, I just want it to all go away. Anyone I met there that I don't talk to regularly (your confrontations were bullshit then and they are now too)could you please stop adding me on facebook? Could we crash a chapel service or campus visit? or protest outside during campus visit? some kind of action needs to go down...non violent, lol. I know it goes without saying, but it's TM, and they would use violence and then Bill O'Reilly would applaud them and they would get more funding.

ahhh, I'm a bitter ol bastard these days.

let me clarify...Teen Mania was discussed, but not as a reason for PTSD, I didn't go into detail about the program.

Anon from earlier here.....I will look into legal precedence and get back to you....I don't want to promise anything too early.

As to viral media - I agree - make this thing go viral - have people involved been sending the MSNBC special, the TM raw footage, and other press items to the press? How about other cult awareness websites? Anybody hit up reddit, digg, delicious, and other aggregators?

I will see what I can do and whom I can contact.

Hang in there. I stand in solidarity with you.

Anon @ 9:49 --

I went to counseling shortly after I left the internship, too. At the time, I was still singing the praises of TM--on and on about how great it was, and it was the only bright spot in my life, and so it goes.

I was diagnosed with moderate General Anxiety Disorder, and warned that if I didn't learn how to deal with the symptoms, it could quickly turn into a more severe case.

I wonder now what my counseling would have looked like (not to mention the diagnosis) had I been been at the place in my life where I was able to recognize the HA for what it was.

Dear Jesus, I'm not sure of the magic words but I want to officially un-invite you to this blog. Whenever you "show up" anywhere you just sit there in a corner not saying or doing anything at all. Let us deal with this like reasonable humans, instead.
OK bye!

I support a lawsuit - especially if it can make internships that charge people to work for you illegal. If that could be achieved - then I would be 100% satisfied and I think I would be able to freely move on from this - follow the money.

I posted this on the comments of the article in the Christian Post and felt I needed to put it here as well.

Colossians 3:12-14 God loves you and has chosen you as his own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek and patient. Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together. (CEV)

I HIGHLY encourage those who are hurt to consider this verse and FORGIVE and let yourselves be healed. I've yet to hear exactly what kind of restitution those who are hurt are seeking. If you cannot answer that for yourself in a way that pleases God and not just your personal motives, then there are some other issues that need to be addressed and that is between you and God and no one else. BUT, either way, for your own sake... you need to FORGIVE and MOVE ON with your lives, agree to disagree and LET GOD DEAL WITH IT if there truly are issues that TM needs to correct after 10+ years (as I've understood it)... there are SO MANY BIGGER issues out in the world today. There are children DYING every day in AFRICA... Japan and Haiti are still recovering from earthquakes...Joplin, Piedmont, and Tuscaloosa are recovering from horrific tornados...unemployment is out of control...there are homeless people EVERYWHERE. I encourage you to start focusing OUTWARDLY, leave this "stuff" to God, forgive TM and yourself, and continue on with the work God has called you to. Satan has sidetracked you for too long. Don't let him have the upper hand on you for one more minute!

I'm not discounting your hurt, I've been hurt (not by TM, but by people I trusted wholeheartedly) and i know how easy it is to wallow in self pity and hash and rehash the issue of who hurt me, etc. It is a downward spiral. I'm encouraging you to start digging out of it and the only way to do that is to forgive and put your focus on other things... do what God is calling you to do... but I think you'll have to forgive in order to hear that calling again.

GOD LOVES YOU...ponder it, grasp it tightly, get it from your head to your heart, then love yourself and allow yourself to FORGIVE and love others and trust GOD again.

TClayton, I have moved on I do forgive, but just because I forgive doesn't mean I don't fight for those still dealing with the same things. There is a girl there THIS YEAR who has flat out told me that many of the things that have happened are still happening. At 18 these kids don't know that what is happening isn't Godly or right in any way. I don't fight for myself I don't need healing anymore but frankly saying "Move on" is saying who cares about those younger. That isn't what God called us to do he calls us to fight for those who do not yet have a voice. We are loving others by being here we are making younger people aware so they don't get hurt! That is LOVE!

wow TCLayton there is no love in telling a hurting person there are "bigger things" out there to focus on....listen to yourself! what callousness! most of us are working through the process of reclaiming the "us" that was lost..that has been lost for years. It is a necessary journey. Necessary not just to ourselves but also to the people around us and the people we will touch in the future. We won't be much good to those orphans, economic victims, etc. if we are still living dysfunctional lives/feeling dysfunctional emotions. THis blog is necessary. THis process is NECESSARY. you need to get over YOUR SELF and not say such calloused and selfish things to people who are hurting and WHO ARE SEEKING HEALING.

TClayton, be very careful with what you are saying. That kind of thinking is the same thinking that allowed children to be molested by priests in the Catholic church for years. Just because we have forgiven and moved on personally does NOT mean turning a blind eye to what is continuing to happen. We are speaking out on behalf of the interns who are in the program TODAY, experiencing these issues TODAY. How will God sort this out if His people stand by idly and allow it to continue?

Also, we are not "rehashing and rehashing" the issues. We are publicizing these experiences so that other people know what is going on at the Honor Academy and those who have been hurt can receive validation that what happened to them was not right. We are not wallowing in self pity. The RA blog is NOT a big pity party. It is people recognizing that what happened to them was wrong and shouldn't have happened, finding freedom in that, and joining together to try and prevent it from happening to others. That does require us to talk about our stories and experiences and give examples of the problems at the Honor Academy. I don't think anyone here is wallowing in it. We are being proactive and seeking healing and change!

I was not saying move on as in "who cares", I was saying move on as in move forward with your life, don't live in the past, etc. the bitterness will do you in! I was in no way belittling your hurt or the hurt of others. At some point you have to ask yourself if you trust God to deal with this?

You have spoken up and spoken out...now, where does God fit in? Are you letting HIM work in this situation to rectify things or are you continuing to fuel the fires of dissent? (not sure if that's the right word). I say that as a challenge to you to do a self check on whether you TRUST God...that He LOVES you and cares about YOU and is big enough to deal with the very people you are condemning. (I still have not received a response to my question as to what those who are hurt feel needs to be done to rectify and heal this situation.)

I'm a former intern, myself, back in the EARLY days... a decade before you (if this is Mica) I'm not an outsider. I hear your hurt. Things happened in my day that I didn't understand, i did not agree with everything leadership did, but they were not abusive...human, yes, but not abusive. I cannot speak for TM leadership, b/c it is not my place. But as a former intern, you are family and I'm here to encourage you. What I learned from my years in the internship is that I HAVE to hear God for myself, no one else can tell me what God is speaking to ME. And I answer only to God for my actions. I had to learn to TRUST God and I also had to learn to truly accept that God loves ME, not just everyone else.

Here's a practical example:
In the short time that I've been married, (5 years) I've learned that I can gripe at my husband until I'm blue in the face about something that is of concern to me but that he holds a different viewpoint on and it will just make him dig in his heels and hold his ground. BUT if I step away and give it to God and PRAY for resolution (usually I'm saying "God, will you please show him he's wrong!?") God will start working in BOTH of us... it's not always my husband that changes... sometimes it's ME that God needs to move. I have to be open to God's answers to the issues not being what I expected. That God knows what is best for me even more than I do myself.

So, my challenge to you and all of those speaking out in hurt is: are you willing to step back now and PRAY this thing through??? If the answer is "no" then you have to consider if you really TRUST God. That He is GOD and can work all things for the good of those who love Him.

I don't believe that God's work and my work are mutually exclusive.

to Julie and Anonymous...I'm sorry you took my comments as not being said in LOVE... it seems like you are reading things through defensive eyes. My comments about wallowing in self-pity and hashing and rehashing were based on MY own experiences of being hurt in the past, reread that section without making everything about YOU. =) Some of the comments on here are pretty harsh and have nothing to do with seeking healing.

I agree with RA. God uses PEOPLE. Also, when you see abuse or have been abused, why would you only forgive the abuser(s) and do nothing about it. Wouldn't you speak out to prevent the abuse from continuing?

What so many critics seem to be missing here is that part of working it out and moving on with our lives, and yes, even giving it to God means that we work out the experiences and understand them as best as we can. I'm working on understanding why I came to believe TM's teachings as truth and how it affected me. But I'm sorry--this is all the process of getting over abuse. It's realizing what you lost and who you were, who you are and where you're going. I do not believe that the Bible teaches us to use prayer as the cover-all solution. We still have to do something. Unless you believe that Jesus promotes poor mental health (as I believe TM does).

I thank God for this site and the documentary because of the healing HE is leading me through because of it. He has done a work in me through Mica, the site, the Duncans, and the other women in the doc. So where is God in all of this? He's right beside me, walking me through (and out of) my pain.

TClayton - Your concerns have been addressed elsewhere on the blog and have been in violation of the comment policy. Please adjust future comments accordingly or you will be deleted.

Recovering Alumni: I agree with you ... God needs to be invited back into this one and allowed to do His thing.

There is a comment "policy"?

Yes, TClayton - it says so right above the comment box where you just typed that. Click the words to read all about it.

Tclayton lets see Have you ever thought GOD IS WORKING THROUGH US? Just curious. If not perhaps you don't see God as using people in every day life.

ok, so only people who agree with your position and don't try to encourage you to forgive and be healed are allowed to post on here?

Wow. Then I will take my own advice and continue to pray for you, as your comment policy clearly states that you are not open to any advice or encouragement that you have not predetermined to be acceptable.

I truly hope you allow God to heal you and you go on to do great things for His kingdom within your circle of influence.

okay, so I can't not comment on shannikitty: if you read my comments they were about what you do NOW... you HAVE spoken out, so what now? I was simply encouraging you to put it back into God's hands and let him deal with it and continue to guide you...we, as humans, tend to not know when to STOP and let GOD do His part. God really doesn't NEED any of us to do His work...HE's GOD.

Once again, as I said before...I don't speak for TM leadership, I'm not condoning ANYTHING they did or didn't do, b/c I didn't witness it, I didn't experience abuse from them, so no, I'm not going to jump on the "TM IS EVIL" bandwagon because I don't know anything about that other than what I've heard. I was simply trying to encourage those who had been hurt from my own experience of being hurt by someone I trusted wholeheartedly...In my mind, it's the same scenario. Apparently ALL of my encouragement fell on defensive ears. So...I don't know what else to say.

Shannon...I'm glad you are working through it. I pray that you will feel restored and renewed and go on to do great things!

I don't believe that speaking out is a one-time or limited-to-a-number thing.
The reason your "encouragement" fell on "defensive ears" is is that it is the same vein of words spoken to those of us by TM while we suffered at TM. God is healing me, but He also allows me to have my feelings and emotions and GO THROUGH THEM all.
One of the problems most if not all of us have had with TM is the pressure to have no emotions in the name of serving God. So I am (really, not sarcastic) sorry that you feel I am not trying to hear you. I do know what you mean. I am disagreeing with you because my experience has shown me that stuffing down my feelings turns me into a very sad, lonely person. I also get it that you don't think that is the advice you are recommending.
You know, those of us trying to work this stuff out have been suffering from hateful inner critics. It's not surprising that we (I) might come across as defensive. I am walking with God about this but it seems that you are telling me I am wrong for handling it the way I am, when I have had FREEDOM for the first time in years.
I trust where God is leading me.

Is it a cultural thing to believe that all hurt people who are working through the healing process are, in fact, also bitter? Because I'm not bitter. I live an extremely happy and fullfilling life that. I'm amazed daily by the continual process of growing and learning and healing that I am lucky to experience.

TClayton, I think that your heart is in the right place, and I understand what you are saying. However, not everyone on this blog is a christian. I also don't think that God asks his followers to ignore emotion or skip the process of healing. If I break a bone, I'm going to the doctor to receive treatment. I will spend time in a cast, and I will not put weight on it. After the cast is removed, I will go to physical therapy to work the tendons and muscles so that they can return to normal movement after a time of stagnancy. This is how things work. Let people heal.

I realize you might already be doing this, but you should consider taking screenshots so there's a permanent record of content like this. It can easily be edited or just disappear down the memory hole, otherwise.

It took me a little bit to find it on the site. I understand if you don't want to link directly to it. I found it under Intern Life > FAQs > "Who Is Recovering Alumni?" and the links within that answer.

I am tired of reading the opinions of east texas hicks, extremist radical christians, and the generally uneducated masses.

If you are spouting verses and get right with God jargon, I present this challenge. If you haven't read the entire NT in ancient Greek, then you may have no clue what the heck you are saying.

Knowledge is power, people. Don't fear it.

Go learn the entire tradition of the monotheistic God. Learn Hebrew and read the OT. Learn about the history of the Jews. Learn ancient Greek and Latin. The different Jesus narratives that existed simultaneously. Learn about the history of early Christianity, the Holy Roman Empire, the Holy Wars. Learn about the Holy Inquisition. Learn about the Protestant Reformation. Learn about the break away sects in early America, the tent revivals, the early Methodists, etc. Learn about the birth of televangelism in the 70's and 80's, the birth of Dominionism and the non-denomenational sects. Learn about the new Christ army which TM represents. Learn about the theocracies set up in Africa for instance where heretics are murdered. Learn about the whole tradition and then embrace it.

For those recovering, I recommend the same, but with a different outcome in mind - it'll make you feel a little better about your situation if you see the historical context and how you were duped by extremists - this is so you guard yourself and never let it happen again. Think for yourself, research for yourself, arm yourself.

I mean really! When the context of God is set upon this argument, then immediatly it is God works through me, no God works through them, no God works in my life, no He works in your life, my version is right and you are heretic, no you are the heretic and I am right....ad nauseum!

I would rather discuss the real issue, which so many here ignore, mainly the trolls -

This is about a group of people being abused by a religious cult and by religious extremists - no different from the Islamic terrorists you hear so much about.

Focus on the abused, their recovery, and why the abusers are still free to walk this earth.

Dear "doesgodreadblogs?" I saw that you officially "un-invited" God from this blog? What is your solution to healing? I would like to know?

Dear Layne, I saw that you said:

"TClayton, I think that your heart is in the right place, and I understand what you are saying. However, not everyone on this blog is a christian. I also don't think that God asks his followers to ignore emotion or skip the process of healing. If I break a bone, I'm going to the doctor to receive treatment
My question for you is this: If our heart is broken shouldn't we go to God to fix it? After all was it Not He that created it? I believe in healing but we need to remember that God is our ultimate healer. So my point is we need to Go to God weather Christian or Not because He is the Solution for all of mankind.

Ashley, please try to uinderstand where people are coming from--the points you are continuing to drill in are coming across like Job's comforters. Personally, I believe God is the ultimate Healer, but I do not believe it is for you or anyone else to say exactly what that healing looks like.

The people on this blog have been through serious pain and many of the wounds are still open, though healing. Well-meaning (and not so well-meaning_ individuals continually come to this blog to tell these individuals that they are wrong and simply need to give the situation to God, move on, and quit talking about it. That is not a message of compassion or love, which I believe Jesus Himself would bring.

The more you argue and push and dig for people to heal in YOUR way, the way you BELIEVE God wants, the more cruel you are behaving.

Critics could also try to understand that part of healing for many individuals is activism, speaking out, and doing whatever they can to stop the same abuse from reoccurring. So telling us to move on and quit talking about it, to only "give it to God" is a perfect way to try to squash the criticism TM is now facing.

You might also note the Jesus Himself did not react to Pharisees and Sadducees in the way that you and others are coming on this blog to demand of us. He was actually quite angry and passionate about the injustices they put on His people and their religiousness without actual compassion and love. If you truly believe we are in the wrong here, I would encourage you to love, rather than push and push and push as you are doing...

Ashley, and anyone else who is on the "You need to just turn to God" bandwagon, this is something I posted on my PostPartum Depression blog but I think it applies well here too.
http://journeythroughppd.blogspot.com/2011/09/sometimes-prayer-just-isnt-enough.html
"I've sort of touched on this before in my post titled 'Just decide to be happy' but I want to focus on the spiritual aspect of this, for lack of a better way of putting it. Often times, Christians will tell a fellow Christian something along the lines of "You just need to pray more" or "Stop wallowing" or "You need to really believe that God will heal you". They say this about everything from a cold to cancer, and within that spectrum falls mental health problems, specifically (from my experience) PostPartum Depression. I know it happens with other conditions, PPD just happens to be the arena that I have some experience in so that's the angle I'm addressing it from.

I personally can attest to the fact that God answers prayers. I grew up hearing the old church adage "God always answers prayers: Sometimes He says "yes", sometimes "no", and sometimes He says "wait". I think there's something to add to that when it comes to health problems (physical, mental, emotional, any variety), he sometimes (read: often) says "You need flesh and blood help". Yes, God answers prayer, but sometimes prayer on it's own just isn't enough. Sometimes, we have to take action in this world as well.

Going to a psychiatrist, admitting that you need therapy, going on medication, none of these things mean you are a bad Christian, they don't mean your faith is lacking, they don't mean you need to pray more/pray better/rebuke the demons better/pray the Prayer of Jabez regularly/get blessings from more Priesthood holders[1]/pray in tongues more often/anything else. Sometimes, we really do have to use the resources God gave us in the form of modern medicine.

If you're a Christian who knows that someone is struggling, DO NOT tell them any of these things. (1) It's not true (2) You're probably making them feel worse. Think VERY VERY carefully about how you respond to them because regardless of how good your intentions are, saying something that even has undertones of that variety can cause a lot of damage. One of the last things a Christian needs when they're already struggling with the myriad of feelings and thoughts that come with PPD is to then feel like those who are supposed to lift them up are judging them, or to question their faith. I know when people told me this, I thought "I pray all the time, if this could be dealt with just by praying I'd have been all better a long time ago."

Sometimes, prayer is enough in some situations. I have seen people healed of various illnesses, maladies, conditions, etc. I know people who have witnessed drastic infirmities instantly healed. I do believe that God can and does answer prayers with yes... sometimes. Sometimes, prayer on it's own is enough. But sometimes it's not, and that's okay.

[1] For my LDS readers"

Please just stop. Can you not see this from the other perspective? Also, if you want to look at this from a Christian perspective, God created medicine and has given doctors and therapists the knowledge to be able to help people, sometimes that IS God's answer to prayer and faith.

I highly recommend the Trauma Prayer and this ministry for anyone who was an intern with TM. Actually, we all go through trauma all the time, so can't hurt...only help really. You can git it here- http://houseofhealingministries.org/resources-2

Remember- healing should be the goal...not revenge because revenge will do nothing for you, but healing will propel you into God and your future.

Good thoughts, Esther! People don't realize how damaging this
"just take it to God" idea is - as if everything happens supernaturally. Medicine and the natural grieving process are nothing to be ashamed of - they are often HOW God works...

Charlene, I dont think people are looking for revenge.

Nor do I. Personally, I do not seek to hurt Teen Mania as they have hurt me--I don't want to hurt the people there at all. I do want the abusive practices to continue, nor do I believe it is right for TM to lie about the purposes or credibility of the community who has spoken out against them. "Against them" as in against what they are doing, the practices they engage in which abuse and dishearten young people.

When you know of abuse and you speak out about it, tell your own story, listen to other stories, discuss how it still affects you and warn others about the experience, that is not revenge.

TM on the other hand has issued statements and behaved in a way that could be easily taken as revenge for speaking out... why don't you start posting all over their blogs to tell them how to deal with this situation and take it to God?

****All of the below is meant out of LOVE, not judgement. If you can read it with that in mind, you won't be offended.

I don't think any of us who have encouraged you to pray and put it back in God's hands, etc are saying JUST do that and it will fix everything. I think we were simply trying to be encouraging. I haven't seen the comments about not seeking help. I think anyone who needs counseling should go get it, so they can get at the root cause of their pain and deal with it. Healing is a process, I personally was just trying to encourage you to forgive, for your OWN sake, based out of my OWN life experiences. Unforgiveness is DEATH to your soul, literally! I wasn't trying to take sides, I can't b/c I don't have all of the facts. I was simply trying to encourage whom I thought were fellow followers of Christ. If there are people on here who now say they aren't Christians and it's all TM's fault...hmmm??

I do have a problem processing the concept that everyone's pain/issues/whatever you want to label it is ALL TM's fault. There were 18 years of life, at least, lived prior to voluntarily going to the HA. That has to factor in somewhere, right?

Once again, not excusing anything that was said or done during your time at HA and TOTALLY not discouraging ANYONE from seeking counseling. God has given us wisdom in ALL areas, medical being a BIG one, in my opinion...(we'd all be dead without antibiotics! HA!)

I think there are some on here who ARE seeking healing. My heart goes out to them. I also think there are some on here who are not being honest with themselves about their motives...for revenge/retaliation/whatever you want to call it. (Maybe b/c they are still in the anger stage of healing?) Even in my WORST hurt, I did not wish ill will on the people who hurt me. I'm hearing some of that here and I just want to caution THOSE people...it will backfire on you if your heart is not in the right place on this. Strive for a pure heart and pure motives (sorry if that sounds too Christian for you)...if healing is what you truly seek, then get counseling and continue to PRAY for God's intervention and yes, guidance. If you are humble in heart, God will give you favor and you'll get the answers you are looking for.

(Sorry, for those who don't believe in God or God's power here. I DO, so my comments are going to be full of that truth, b/c I have to be true to what I believe, just as you do.)

Hey Shannon, can I ask: Have you personally tried to talk to TM staff about your feelings of hurt? If so, what was your experience with that process?

TClayton, hi. I wish I could explain to you that I do understand what you are saying. Part of my disagreement is due to my interactions with staff. Shortly after TM I was in contact with Dave Hasz.

A couple of years later I approached Dave and Brenda Bertrand to discuss some suggestions and feed back for other interns.

At neither of these times did I believe anything was wrong or abusive at TM. I thought I was wrong. Nevertheless, Dave wrote to me for about a month and then did not respond when I responded positively to (me making) reparations. I returned my ring and emailed him several more times and he continued to not respond to me. That was in 2001. Brenda emailed me back in 2003, maybe 2003 when I wrote to her and Dave with suggestions. She specifically advised me to "move on" and stated that she could tell I "had issues with running away".

I am currently in contact with Heath Stoner. So far the communication has been disappointing, he has pressured me to talk to him on the phone and he has equated some of the genuinely traumatic experiences I described to him as this one time during his internship someone called him a liar and it was a misunderstanding. He has also, within our email dialogue, quoted my statements incompletely and responded as if I had said something else. I am currently waiting to hear from him as he told me that Dave Hasz has issued a public statement where TM said they did some things that were wrong (I am waiting to find out what statement that is). He also told me that they have fired staff who did not behave lovingly. He said they have made changes. No reference has been made to the changes he has personally made as a staff member and he has rarely answered my questions directly. He has stressed that the problems at TM are a staff training issue. I pored out my heart and explained all of the ugly things that happened when I was there and he finally said "Thank you for your comments."

Thank you for sharing Shannon. I encourage you to keep the lines of communication open, even when you are frustrated (as I can tell you are) and be patient and I'd have to say, go back and read my example of marriage (how you can butt heads all day long, but when you pray, God does things you cannot do in the other person's heart...and sometimes in your own and brings about restoration and reconciliation). It's all a process. ...not that you asked my opinion. =)

I think we all agree it is a process :-) I'm most frustrated about is feeling under attack for going through the process and being told what it should look like. Although I am frustrated I have been careful in my emails to Heath, etc. and explained I am not wanting to make any personal attacks, etc. It's all been very civil, just disappointing.

TClayton, you may want to read this blog for a synopsis of everything that has happened so far:
http://www.recoveringalumni.com/2010/11/teen-mania-and-recovering-alumni.html

As far as whether a 1 year program when you are 18 can have such huge repercussions on your life, it's hard to understand what the HA is like if you haven't done it. TM controls your actions and thoughts for an entire year. They teach you to think about things their way and if you openly disagree or disobey, there will be correction. Maybe just a confrontation or maybe you will be put on a "growth plan" to get you back in line. They leaders at Teen Mania are INTENTIONALLY shaping the foundation of your faith a certain way during that year. (I believe they would agree they do that, because one of their goals is to "shape" future leaders.) As a result, some people have later realized there are problems with the foundation, and we all know that what's built on a shaky foundation cannot last.

Concerning how we've approached our recovery, most of the alumni on this site had contacted (or tried to contact, sometimes there was no response despite repeated attempts) Teen Mania or Teen Mania leadership personally before any of this started, usually multiple times. In the majority of cases, their concerns were dismissed or ignored. When the blog started, we realized there was a pattern of issues that have lead to damage in people's lives and that more than just our individual healing was at stake.

One of the things that everyone who says, "Move on" or "Take it to God" may not understand is that people from TM have been beating hurting interns over the head with these lines for years. It is one more way they have caused people to feel spiritually inferior and worthless. "Why are you still talking about that?" they say. "You obviously haven't taken it to God or you would've moved on." I think all the recovering alumni who are still Christians would tell you they HAVE taken these issues to God repeatedly. Taking something to God doesn't make that thing unhappen. It doesn't mean we get to skip over working out the very real, very messy consequences of our experiences. I can take an unplanned pregnancy to God, and He can give me strength and help me through it, but He's not going to unring the bell and make it like I was never pregnant. God walks with us through every step of our recovery, but that doesn't mean He undoes everything that happened in the blink of an eye and makes it as though the abuse never happened. Recovery is often like an onion, once you are healed in one area, God pulls back another layer of the onion and exposes something else that needs healing and recovery.

Finally, I apologize if I was defensive with you earlier. I try very hard not to be defensive, but it is very wearing for our community that we have addressed the same allegations and remarks from others repeatedly for years. You may be saying something to us for the first time, but believe me, whatever you have to say we have already heard a thousand times from a thousand different people. So please bear with us and realize we are trying very hard to be patient with everyone who has questions and comments, but we are normal people and we get can frustrated and tired, too.

Julie...I was an intern LONG before it was called HA. Back when what you all call LTE's were mandatory, not voluntary.

In my day, we had 6 girls in a two bedroom apartment and $150 to live on for the month...that was for groceries, gas, and anything else we needed. We cooked our own meals and were responsible for getting ourselves to and from work on time, in dress code. We slept in a bed box made out of two by fours, ply wood, and 3 inch foam while traveling down the road, driving straight through to ATF's (some of the best sleep I've ever had, mind you) =) ...I was there when that truck with the bed box went over sideways on a Mississippi back road at 5am after coming back from Miami summer missions training (I think that's where we were going). If I remember correctly, we got back to Tulsa, washed our clothes and jumped in another van to drive to El Paso to lead teams in Mexico after already leading a month long trip in El Salvador. We did it b/c people counted on us.

I was on one of the first ATF teams and we hiked Pike's Peak without any acclimation, after staying up all night the night before, trying to get promotional material to print. We sometimes worked 12-16 hour days, b/c stuff needed to get done and there were only so many of us to do it...teens were expecting us to get their information processed for summer missions and setup, work, and tear down ATF's every weekend. I learned TONS of life skills and practical work ethic. Sure it wasn't a posh life, I was asked to do things that I really didn't want to do, but we lost sleep and gave all we had because we felt privileged to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

There were MANY times that TM leadership did or said things that I didn't understand or agree with at the time. I had several one on one conversations with Ron about "issues" (we called him Ron, not Mr. Luce...there were 20 ish interns my first year and 50 ish my 2nd year, in that regard, our internship was more intimate than yours probably was)...I can't remember a single topic of concern right now, but I do remember that I never felt "not listened to" or abused. He didn't always agree with my concerns, but I felt listened to. I was not forced to stay, in fact, there were several times that I was low on funding and should have been sent home and they let me stay.

All that to say, I have "done it", but I'm sure you will say, "but you weren't in Garden Valley so it doesn't count"...whatever, ...I've seen the campus, it's beautiful! We lived in roach infested Grad housing at ORU. LOL!

Sorry...that was my moment of defensiveness.

TClayton, Julie did not know that you had been a part of the internship. Digging it in that you (seem to think) had it worse, probably isn't the most helpful thing to do here. People on this site, we don't try to one-up each other and bicker over who's experience was worse.

For the record, since you went into it yourself, LTEs were mandatory when I was there 2000-2001, except for ESOAL, which was mandatory for some people and strongly encouraged for everyone else. We had 6 girls to a room and also slept in very stark plywood triple-bunk beds which were not tall enough to sit up in (at all, unless you had the top bunk).

The same descriptions of travel and continual work were experienced bu the majority of the interns. Sleep deprivation was normal. Being startled awake and demanded outside to stand at attention was not uncommon. Ok, we all know what goes on at TM, we all have been through some crap. I believe the real issue for all of us on the site is that the attitude in which all of these things were done was not in love or compassion. And these things affected us, the affected our lives. PTSD is a real illness, depression is real, pain is real, teaching shame and guilt and worthlessness is abuse. Denying medical care for physical or emotional trauma is abuse. Telling people how to feel is wrong. Yet you continue. We understand that other interns feel differently and there is a whole internet of support for them. But people feel and respond to things differently. It's not your job to further judge us over and over again.

What are you trying to achieve beyond shutting us up?

Shannon... sorry for the rant, but Julie's "you don't know, b/c you weren't in it" comment just set me off. Nothing ticks me off more than someone saying "you can't possibly understand" that is B.S. Yes...I said it!

I'm not judging you or trying to shut you up. I've merely been trying to engage in the open conversation. I've enjoyed conversing with you, Shannon, as you seem to be level headed and open to others' opinions or at least hearing their heart and willing to agree to disagree on points without getting ugly.

I have not once said that any of you are lying or wrong, etc.

But the "you can't possibly understand b/c you didn't go through it" argument is immature and naive. And frankly "invalidates" my experiences at TM, which is exactly what some on here accuse others at TM for doing to them...hmmm... food for thought?

My internship was not perfect either, I just didn't perceive any of it as "abuse". Abuse is a REALLY REALLY strong word. (I know what abuse is, I won't go into it on here, but I do). I'm still trying to wrap my brain around how you feel this is abuse when you were there of your own free will. ...but I am still on here, b/c it's in my nature to try to understand why people are hurting and not dismiss them.

TC CLayton, one other point that you keep mentioning, is the comparison between a situation of spiritual/physical abuse and an argument in a marriage. THey are not related on any degree. The people who come to this blog for help have been through psycological trauma. There is a process that must take place for their healing. There is also a concern about the deaf ear that had been turned to the problem. We want TeemMania to look at the problems, aknowledge them, and change them. Until we see this happen we have a responsibility to be concerned for future interns and many of us believe that it would be irresponsible not to speak up. This situation is just not related to an argument between spouses. I would suggest that you discontinue your attempts to push that perspective.

Also, I was close to that ministry through the early 90's. I went on missions every year and had close friends that I stayed in contact with who were interns @ the tulsa campus. The program changed significantly around'98...it really was a different scene....there was a tenderness lost that has not seemed to return. Comparing your year to the later intern's years is just not applicable.

TClayton I apologize for my tone here--I am not as mad as I may sound. Do you actually want to understand why we call it abuse? All of the questions you are raising here have been answered. And let me point out that if it wasn't abuse due to my being there of my own free will, you are discounting the abuse of battered women across the world... um, food for thought? You need to read the objections tab of this site because you're bringing in perception, claiming you want to understand, but really wounding more and more. I opened my self up to healing about all of this little more than a week ago. Since then I have been told all of this to move on and give it to God. I have been called names (my fave is probably "cow") and I have been trying to have a rational communique with Heath. You're not helping or convincing me of the "this was not abuse" side, trust me. I know what abuse is as well and I have spoken out for victims of sexual abuse. This is not actually the place for you to engage in the discussion you seem to desire. This is a place to heal but you are further hurting people. Phew, I will have to drop out of this debate for now. I can't continue to answer the same questions over and over like this.

Anonymous, my example in my marriage applies to ANY relationship in which two people do not agree on something that they feel very strongly about: spouses, friends, siblings, bosses/coworkers, church relationships...it all applies. ESPECIALLY in situations were you are in disagreement with someone who is in leadership over you. If you cannot see that, then maybe that is for someone else on here, not you.

I do agree with you that things changed when TM moved to GV. In our day, it was about ministry/workplace experience, apartment life, character development, an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than me, traveling around the states and internationally, adventures doing things I never would have done on my own...and building life-long friendships. I'm sure it's nothing like that today, so my comments are irrelevant.

I apologize.

I sincerely apologize Shannon, that was not my intention at all...I was just telling you where I am in this process...trying to wrap my brain around it. I did not mean to make you feel bad.

ps. "cow"? wow... hello first grader! LOL!

What you don't seem to understand is that this is NOT about people in "ANY relationship who don't agree on something they feel very strongly about"... This is about victims of abuse. It's not a "disagreement". And you really shouldn't be posting messages on these boards if you refuse to understand that. It just doesn't help.

I would also suggest that you are not trying to wrap your own brain around anything....all of these comments you have posted seem to be in attempt to wrap our brains around your own perceptive. just a thought ;)

I wish you all the best. I'm out.

TClayton, I apologize for not realizing you had been an intern. I was in no way trying to attack or minimize your internship experience.

Shannon, you have been great about dialoguing with people the last few days. Your own recovery is the most important, though, and if you are feeling wounded/triggered by all these comments, please take a break. Don't let this stuff burn you out or set you back. You have been very brave and extremely strong, don't let the trolls tell you otherwise. :)

TClayton (and anyone else), I hope I did not hurt your feelings with my frustration. If I did, I apologize that I did not choose my words better.

Anyone know the song BLOOD PRESSURE by MUTEMATH? It kinda describes the way certain responses feel with TM etc.

Why can’t you: be more like your older brother
Why can’t you: oooo (blood pressure)
Why can’t you: do a little more for Jesus
Why can’t you: (blood pressure) ooooooo
Ahhhh ahhhhh

Blood pressure
Do better
Keep rising
Blood pressure

You’re on the road: on a road that’s bound for nowhere
Why don’t you do what you’re told? Blood pressure

Don’t worry I will help you out on one condition:
Be more, do more, check your blood pressure

Blood pressure
Do better
Keep rising
Blood pressure

Blood pressure
Won’t matter
Keep rising
Blood pressure

Any one notice that the "response" page is no longer on the TM website?

Is it really? I was finding it easily when I googled but I am not finding it now. I really wouldnt be surprised if they took it down already, but jeez...

Because as long as it's up they can be subject to us showing how petty they are.

You know, TClayton inspired an interesting idea. Do you think, because we didn't have it as rough (situationally speaking) as the very first interns, a lot of the strange drills (waking us up at 3am to stand outside in the cold and do meaningless activities repeatedly) were to emulate that sort of hot-box culture from the beginning days of the ministry?

I was there in 2002 - 2003 and the only retreat that was optional was ESOAL, but there was definitely a LOT of pressure to participate.

Layne, that's an interesting idea.

I find it fascinating that every time there is a site/blog opening communication about spiritual abuse, there are people who show up that seem to desperately "need" those they've never met to move on, forgive & get over it, etc. It's baffling that people spend time arguing that someone they've never even met should stop dwelling on the past. I mean, honestly, why is it such a big deal what some stranger's emotions are? If you can't relate or are disinterested, find a different site.

I was a missionary, TL several times and a PD with TM; I turned down the offer to work on staff of the internship. I saw the craziness & lived through some of it. I am sure that in the middle of everything I was at times part of the problem. I was hurt and probably hurt others too.
I say "go, us!" to everyone who is in the midst of processing, healing, dialoguing, discovering, grieving what's been lost. I'm there with you.

i dont know if they did take it down but if they did u all did ask them to!!

TClayton - Hi, good to hear the perspective of a Tulsa Intern. I was an Intern '96-'97 and helped moved the ministry from Tulsa to GV. My class went through orientation and started Gauntlet month in Tulsa. While we only got to be apart of that environment for 2 or more weeks we were able to see the difference in the Tulsa & GV classes. At that time, our class was the largest class to have participated in the Internship (it became Leadership 20/20 our year and year(s) later Honor Academy. We too started off calling Mr. Luce, Ron, but the level of intimacy and relationships between the staff and Internship shifted dramatically our year. The Jan. '96 I remember them call Ron, "Papa Ron". We as a class NEVER realized that level of intimacy and familiarity. He and MANY on staff became arms length available to us Interns. While you lived off of $150/month for all your needs, and lived in Roach infested grad. ORU apartments (remember sleeping on those dirty brown apartment floors) we the GV Interns, initially lived in a single, 2 floor corrugated metal "compound dorm". 6 Interns to a room; 2 triple bunk beds (with chigger infested mattresses) per room with MAYBE 2 dressers, and 2 folding door closets. There were 3 rooms per quad and 2 quads per wing. So (6X3)2=36 Interns sharing 3 bathrooms, 3 sinks & 3 showers. While TM (in the dorms) started to provide TP. We Interns in good financially standing were given a $25/month stipend in which to buy all the rest of our dorm needs. I wouldn't brag about them providing the food for us b/c MOST of us gained 15+lbs off of the processed/packaged goods they slung at us. I would rather have had to figure out living on a budget in a CITY where I could at least walk or catch a bus to get where I wanted to do versus being stuff in BFE, thinking that the blue moon opportunities to go to Walmart and the laundry mat were the equivalent of going to a concert or 5 star venue. (They didn't have W/D those first months and even AFTER they installed them we STILL needed our own quarters to wash laundry.) I have to say I admire exceedingly the work that the Tulsa class (I was a '95 B Trip Missionary and it was the exposure/love/dedication of those Interns that influenced my decision to become an Intern myself. So I do not say this flippantly.) did but I also envy the levels of relationships and access you had to Ron and the staff. I believe that that level of access and relationship you had was key to the giving of grace and Christ like love. I also believe that it was the VERY public and daily exposure of TM in a city environment that held kept it accountable to certain levels of behavior and treatment of the Interns. Whereas living in BFE GV, TM has little to none exposure and opportunity for accountability except to those blinded - I mean dedicated staff and Interns who are immersed into the "TM Bubble". So respectfully there are aspects that bind us all together and can be accepted as a universal BUT there are very drastic difference. Blessings and peace and welcome to the discussion.

@ Ashley Chandler

First of all, I uninvited Jesus, not "god" My idea of what god might be and what yours might be are probably VERY different, but, I'm ok with having the universal power of love abide here in our discussion, absolutely.

I just strongly disagree that "healing" can ONLY come through Jesus being involved. If some of my friends want to rely on Jesus for their healing, that is their choice and I respect that. Their journey to healing may be very different then mine and that is OKAY.

Why I took the time to "un-invite" Jesus from this discussion is because I find it further damaging for people to have these arguments where we aren't even talking on the same level because those who do not choose jesus or a christianity based path to recovery are just dismissed as being unable to be "dealt with" because SOME of the ones who do think jesus is the ONLY path to healing, just don't know how to deal with people as people and not as saved vs unsaved peaopl. unsaved people being a "hopeless" cause unless and until they choose to be in the jesus camp.

That's why. It is unproductive to the conversation which is "What do we do to make these abuses stop?!"

I have great news! There is no longer abuse happening at Teen Mania! Thank you all for your concern through out the past few years that have helped develop it into the fine program it now is!

Even that would not stop the people on this site from falling into the hate. I seriously do appreciate the concern as someone who was an intern and GI but feel that it has gone beyond wanting to improve the program to the point that people posting often aren't showing the very characteristics (love) they accuse teen mania if neglecting.

If your heart is to help teen mania and the honor academy, please continue. If you have any hatred towards them or any particular staff member, I urge you to prayerfully forgive them. Going the other way and slandering will come back to you on judgement day.

I hate that there is this animosity. Can it not somehow be resolved that we may all spur one another on towards the lord?

-Disclaimer- I am not against the people on this site or even the root of their purpose. Just the heart and the method.

Thats my 2 cents! :)

Anon as usual I point one word that you are using very wrongly, Slander if it can be proven true it's not slander!

Anon 2:07- if there has not been an aknowledgement of abuse etc. then the hearts at the head of the organization have not changed. If you saw a small child being abused and did not say something/try to keep other children away from the abuser/bring the abuser to accountability for their actions, then you would be responsible for the abuse, as well. MOst of us are on a journey to dig up and rebuild...our experience with that organization changed us to the core and in very damaging ways. Some of us are also doing everything we can to both warn others and also call attention to the abuse, for the sake of saving others from the same fate. It is not unforgiveness, and for most of us does not come from an ugly motive of the heart. To suggest that is utterly shameful and wrong.

Anon 2:07 - You do realize that TM leadership has said pretty much exactly that, only the facts showed that they lied? Of course that's not going to satisfy anyone!

I am so grateful to you and all those who speak out about their experience.

My daughter has joined the military and gone through real military training, and she was appalled to read on the web about Honor Academy's boot camp. In real boot camp, they check your feet every morning for blisters. In real boot camp, they demand that you drink water, lots and lots of water, and eat healthy nutritious food. In real boot camp, COTs are responsible to make the decision for you that you are too ill/injured to continue. Their butt is on the line if anyone suffers permanent injury or illness.

The biggest difference? The military knows they will be held responsible legally for any death or disabilit they inflict on soldiers. The CTOs know they will be held responsible for any deaht or disability they allow to be inflicted on their soldiers.

Religious groups? They indoctrinate these kids to believe that speaking out against Teen Mania is rebellious, sinful, proof that they don't have what it takes to be the super-spiritual men/women of God they want to be. That's why they put up with the abuse; these kids want to please God, and TM and fundamentalism equate obedience to humans with jobs in the church to obedience to God Almighty. It is messed up.

http://undermuchgrace.blogspot.com/2011/11/from-teen-mania-mom.html

My mom asked me yesterday that if a person came up to me and explained that something I said years ago pushed them away from God, how would I react? Even if they took what I said out of context. Even if they completely misunderstood what I was trying to say. My words made them leave God. How would I react?

I said that I would be so sorry. Even if I'm right, something very bad happened. Not even TM will do as much. Granted, not all of us have rejected God, but our relationship with Him has been rocky since the HA.

I was appalled at the mere thought of turning someone away from God. If the staff at the Honor Academy were decent Christians, they should feel the same.

Sean-

I loved your comment. I have been thinking exactly that in the last couple weeks. Taking this down to a one-on-one, human level makes it so much more real- and so much more disturbing, really.

I just imagine if someone personally came to me and said, "You know, you really hurt me and negatively affected my relationship with God when you did such-and-such."

Would I really respond with, "Oh, well you know, my friend so-and-so and a bunch of other friends have GREAT things to say about how I encouraged them in the Lord with stuff I said to them! Let me tell you their stories!!"

I feel like that is how TM is responding to a lot of this right now- asking alumni to post positive blogs and testimonies of their time at HA. It's really saddening.

Also, in other news- it does appear that HA took down this Response page. I tweeted them asking why back on Nov. 11 and have not gotten a response yet. I will be asking about that tomorrow on the Conference Call...among other things:-)

As of now, this is still on their website at this link, along with some out-of-context Bible verses: http://www.teenmania.com/scripture-references/

Funny, it's not there when I look up that address, Eric.

It looks like their website was down for a bit but I still see it over here. (The relevant part is buried under a mess of hypocritically-quoted Bible verses about showing grace to your enemies. Since we've all seen how gracious TM is to the RA community.)

Though given their track record of censoring things that look bad once someone here points it out, I wouldn't be surprised to see it disappear. I've got screencaps if anyone wants 'em.

Okay I was an intern in 2000 and I must say I am shocked at the comments on these post. I am not saying that anyone did not have their own perception but I dont feel that y bashing TM is right. My reasons are as followed: NO one had to be OR stay an intern! ALL interns made a choice to go, we were clearly given what was expected of us INCLUDING that we would not be paid and we were NEVER MADE to stay...as for ESOAL; again we had a choice to particpate AND when we had had enough! So my question is IF TM was Soooo bad and you folks were so miserable WHY DID YOU NOT LEAVE? I know that there are problems in any ministry and we are all human but I dont just dont understand why these post try to portray an image like you had no choice lime you were forced to endure (what u say) abuse. I dont want/mean to sound insensitive but U ALL HAD CHOICES AND IF YOU CHOSE TO STAY THEN WHY ARE YOU PLAYING THE VICTIM? Yes it was a tough schedule and yes the rules required ALOT of self discipline but hard work never killed anyone. As for leadershiip interaction, i nor no one i know had a problem. Now everyone i ask (and i have polled friends, coworkers, waiters,and random people) have some issue with their leadership. Maybe some of you were looking for something to change you; when only god can help you change. Maybe some faced a situation (like dismissal or confrontation) that you didnt like or felt was handled wrong. Or maybe some are looking for someone/some place to blame for an emptiness within yourself or maybe some wanted to believe that TM was perfect. It really dont matter why you choose to post...what matter is that as long as you are unable to move on you will be stuck. And as long as you continue to not forgive the wrongs you feel you were exposed to (whether in reality or perception ) you ARE FORCED to stay by your own choice! I say this only bc I know how it works when you seek to prove something and it consumes you i know what its like to want to be past the hurt of something but being trapped by unforgiveness; i did not deal with this at TM but i did deal with it when i was VIOLENTLY raped and i certainly know that experience was more traumatic than any ten things any of you can recall at TM....be careful how losely you guys use the word abuse PLEASE! Bc abuse is a situation that you cant get out of for fear of your life and i know NO one in their right mind at TM feared for their life¡¡!!!!!!!!¡¡

I've never been a big fan of TM. Of the people I've talked to over the years I consider most of them stupid and shallow in there Christian walk. Your blog is proof to me that you are all stupid in regards to your hang ups and need to get over it. Lets hold hand around the camp fire. Sorry I came across your blog.

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