Straight, Inc. (1976-1992)

In Institutional Child Abuse, Mel Sembler, programs, Straight, Inc. on September 24, 2008 at 12:33 am

Straight, Incorporated was a nationally recognized, very controversial, non-profit drug rehabilitation program, with locations in several states across the nation. Mel and Betty Sembler headed up a movement to open Straight, Inc. in 1976.  (More about Mel & Betty Sembler later.) A brief overview of the program can be found on the  Wikipedia under Straight, Inc.

I spent about 915 days of my teen years in my own personal hell which went by the name of Straight, Inc. First, in St. Petersburg, Florida. Next, in Springfield, Virginia. I never thought I would get out of the place, but at last, I finally did. Once I left the program, I never went back or looked back.  In fact, I believe I immediately and involuntarily suppressed as much of my experience as I could.  However, every year on May 29th I would have flashbacks to that dark time in my life.  May 29th was the day I was deceived by my parents and locked up in the program for the next 900+ days. No warning, no crime, no due process. I was locked away almost 1000 miles away from home. I was brought there under the guise of a family vacation. Wow. If that was a vacation, I don’t want any.

About 17 years later, I was a stay at home mom and on a whim, I decided to see if I could find anything on the internet about the Straight program. I had to search for days before finally coming upon some people who had been there. They were not from the same time frame or location, but they had been there, and they understood.

Ever since that fateful day, I’ve been exploring what was going on both in the program and outside of the program during those years that I virtually lost. It’s been quite a white-knuckled ride, but well worth it.  I have since met many hundreds of people who also decided to search the internet for Straight, Inc. and I’m sure there will be many, many more.  As I’ve wrestled with my proverbial ‘skeleton in the closet’ over the years (since about 1999) I’ve published many different web sites… the first one went by the name of “Straight Inc., Survivors” and it continued to morph into different sites with the millions of new discoveries I was making. There were times when I couldn’t continue on the scary ride and I would take everything down and try to forget about it again… but that never seemed to last too long… for some reason, this subject had grabbed me an simply wouldn’t let me go.  As much as I tried to leave it in the past, it kept nagging at me to keep searching. I would start the process all over again, do more reasearch, make new discoveries, create a new web site, etc.  In the meantime, many other people also began to publish web sites about their experiences… over time, we found out that many, many very similar programs still exist. The names of the programs are different, the locations and the ‘players’ are all different, but at the center of it all, The Program, as most refer to it is exactly the same. Here is how they play the game: Misguided, uneducated and unqualified people hang out a shingle, claim they can miraculously and “creatively” “fix” your kid and start collecting thousands of dollars per kid to “fix” them.  They try to apply something the call “Tough Love.” (A horrible bastardized version of the original Tough Love philosophy created by Phyllis and David York.) Usually this results in a more damaged child than the one that went originally entered the program.  Sometimes this damage is immediately obvious, in other cases, years go by before the damaged is realized.

This blog takes the place of previous web sites. I will be posting my research here as time permits for those who come after me looking for answers. Feel free to make comments here on the blog or go to the forum linked to this blog.

I hope this helps anyone looking for answers.  Good Luck with your search. Take care and take it slowly and easily.

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