Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Straightling by Cyndy Drew Etler

Straightling: A Memoir, Cyndy Drew Etler.  North Charleston S.C.: Lucky 17 Publishing, 2012.  e-book, 545 pps.

Cyndy was a teen from Bridgeport, Connecticut.  She had a family and a bestie and she wanted to be in with the cool kids.  She hung out in Monroe with her bestie and a few characters for a coupla weekends.  Her step-dad was an evil dude.  Cyndy hardly got to drink at all and never mastered smoking pot when she got sent to Straight, Inc.

Straight, Inc. was a program started by Mel Sembler.  It was supposed to be a drug rehab.  It was the ancestor of The Seed and a predecessor of Teen Challenge.  It was related to Cedu and Brown schools and therefore the great auntie-- so to speak-- of WWASPS facilities.

But Straight, Inc. had some problems.  In order to avoid state oversight from various states, the kids were transported to host houses to sleep at night.  These houses were usually some distance away, and sometimes across state lines.  These were not nice houses.  There was a "mom" and a "dad."  The kids rarely got eight hours of down time.  So sleep deprivation was the rule rather than the exception.  And the "room" that the kids shared were equipped with basic mattresses on the floor and little else.

During the day, the kids were literally warehoused.  They were brainwashed, forced to testify to drugs they hadn't taken and to things they hadn't done.  The food was crap.  Humiliation was the standard.  New arrivals were forced to undergo an anal probe.  And yet, at least one person I know who was a "graduate" of Straight, Inc. to this day denies that the techniques used there were abusive.

Cyndy endured Straight, Inc. hell.  When she finally got up the nerve to rat out her evil step-dad, she was told to keep the focus on her own stuff and not to blame anyone else for her problems.  Unfortunately, this is a familiar trend in twelve step groups today.  So she continued to be "treated" for her non-existent drug problem.  Her mom played the part of suffering martyr well.  Step-dad remained evil.  To her credit, Cyndy kept it real under impossible circumstances.

sapphoq reviews says: Straightling is an excellent book with an honest and straightforward style.  Anyone involved in fighting the troubled teen industry and its' culture of abuse ought to read this book.  Highly recommended.

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