This testimony was found on Reddit. All rights belong to the original author. She was lucky only to be zip-tied instead of being shackled. There is a reason for the transport firms telling the parents not to be there when the transport takes place:
Hi there everyone. I'm a 19 year old female from the United States. This is the first time I've ever told my story on the internet/ shared this with strangers.
When I was 16 years old my parents signed over legal guardianship of me without my prior-knowledge. While sleeping on an average summer night, I was awoken at 3 AM to the lights being turned on in my room. A large man and women stood there. I shot up in bed and reached around me to grab my phone- my phone was gone, my laptop which I normally watched TV on until I fell asleep was not in my bed anymore as well. I began to cry. "Where are my parents?" as I desperately tried to comprehend what was going on. They moved closer to me and began reciting a prompt, "Your parents have signed away your custody. You will be coming with us. You have 5 minutes to get ready." I pulled the covers over my head and began to sob. I couldn't comprehend why this was happening to me. I hadn't done anything wrong. I was a fairly good student in school; a very average 16 year old girl. They told me that I would have to ask my parents. "So where are my parents?" "Let me talk to my parents! This isn't suppose to be happening, this is a mistake." They told me that my parents had already left the house. I begged them to let me call them and they refused and told me to get ready. They yelled at me to put on clothes, to get dressed because we needed to leave. I asked them where I was going but received no response.
I first began to realize the seriousness of the situation as I changed out of my pajamas and into regular clothes while they stood there and watched me. They then led me to the bathroom and watched me pee. All I had on me was the clothes I was wearing and a pair of sunglasses. I was prompted to put my hands behind my back and was zip tied. I was led out of the home I once viewed as safe, the home I had spent my entire average suburban life growing up in, and into a van parked in my driveway.
I couldn't comprehend what was happening. I was shaking and sobbing so badly as if somebody close to me had died. I wanted to run away as I desperately tried to scheme of ways to escape. Now I live close to an airport (about 30 minutes away- tops), but it felt as if we were driving for hours. I wasn't recognizing the area we were in/ anything outside. It was pitch dark and I so badly wanted to open the door and throw myself out of the van, but I knew they would catch me. I was scared that if I did not comply with their orders, I would experience worse repercussions later on. What those were? I was not exactly sure at the time. The entire car ride was filled with my blubbering tears. They wouldn't answer my questions. I was being treated as if I were a hardened criminal.
Two hours later, we arrived at an airport. Mind you, with each step throughout my journey my thoughts were racing. Could I escape? Could I text somebody to save me? Could I convince somebody to help me? A stranger? What could I even do to get out of this situation? But in all reality, I knew if what they had told me was true, I was trapped. My parents had given me away. As we entered the airport, the captors had their arms around mine. With my hands still zip tied, they produced my passport to security and badges of some sort which allowed them to take me through the airport in quick fashion. Despite being in public, I was sobbing and they kept telling me to shut up. I tried to contain my tears but I couldn't.
I finally learned where I was going when we boarded a flight to Colorado. I'm from New Jersey, so you have to imagine how I was feeling only five or six hours after I had first been taken out of my bed that morning. My entire life was changing before my eyes. My dreams, my aspirations, my future summer plans, my friendships, my boyfriend at the time, was all melting away before me. There was nothing I could do to change anything. At the time it felt like I was watching everything I loved disappear. It was now early morning and we boarded the flight. My holders did not let me pee without standing in the stall with me, so once on the plane, when I asked to use the bathroom, the female transporter held the door open with her foot and watched me as I peed. The flight was a blur as I sat there welling up inside tears pouring down my face. I tried so hard not to cry. I don't even remember if people were staring or looking at me. I just remember sitting on this flight unable to comprehend that just a few hours prior, my life had been seemingly completely normal. I was so blindsided. Not to mention- I am terrified. I have no clue what is happening or where I am going. Will I ever talk to my family ever again? Will I ever lay in my bed again? Will I ever get to hold my dog? Go to prom? Get asked out on dates? Hug my friends? There were so many questions I couldn't grapple not having the answers to. After the flight ended, we went through the airport and boarded another flight. This time we entered a tiny skipper plane heading to another area of Colorado. This is when I finally really lost my shit. It was early afternoon by now, and on only three hours of sleep and beyond traumatized as fuck, stressed, hungry and drained, I spent the next hour of a flight sobbing like a fucking baby. I recall wondering what everyone else on the flight was thinking as it was a tiny plane with only tops 30 seats. The transporters slept or tried to. I looked around me wondering if I should ask somebody to text a number for me or beg a stranger for help, but be it zip tied and unsure of how asleep these people were, I was too scared.
We exited the plane on the runway because the airport was a very tiny building with only a few gates. Once in the airport building, we walked up to two women holding a sign. The transporters then untied my bound wrists and without a word- walked away. I was too drained to even consider running. I felt emotionally dead. The two women led me to the parking lot, we got in the car, they locked the doors and began to drive. I asked them where we were going, trying to remain calm in order to get the answers I needed to hear, but they ignored me and just had a conversation amongst themselves. I remained in silence for the first time since my ordeal had began on that early 3 am morning. I tried to figure out what I was going to do/ come to terms with everything. Only 15 hours prior, all I had known of life was the suburbs I grew up in and the expectations I had had for my life. It's weird because even then, I somehow knew I would never return back home for a very long time.
After driving for an hour, we eventually entered a tiny town- modern civilization. My heart lit up with hope. We parked and they led me out into the building which turned out to be a doctors office. I was in such shock and so confused but I didn't ask any questions. The doctor looked at my pitifully red, tear soaked eyes with sympathy. It was now around 5-6 oclock in New jersey at this point, but maybe only early afternoon (maybe 2 or 3 oclock in Colorado). I tried to smile back at him, but I didn't concern him with my problems as he obviously seemed aware of whatever process this was that I was experiencing. However, this was the first sympathy I had seen throughout my entire ordeal and I broke down into long weeping sobs as he took my blood. He just patted me on the back. I remember I kept imagining what all of my friends were now doing at home. Did they know I was gone? What were my parents doing? Once we left the doctors, the two women continued to drive and we arrived at a shopping center with a Mexican restaurant. "I'm not hungry" I told them. They told me that this would be the last good meal that I would ever eat for a very long time and that I better take their offer. While eating, I looked around me as normal people laughed with their families, couples enjoyed their meals with their dates, and kids my age cooled off from the summer heat. Nobody could even imagine what I was going through. I was so alone. The women enjoyed their conversation as I sat in silence.
We eventually went back into the van and continued to drive for another 30 or so minutes. Then we arrived at a shack. I remember thinking that I was at some sort of commune or something... I was so confused. Inside there were 40 or so hippie looking people, chatting, eating- dressed in hiking/ out-doorsy clothes. People smiled at me as tears silently rolled down my face. I was led to a sketchy storage room. The two women left and a very mean and angry women entered. I decided this is where I needed to be logical- I was going to completely pull myself together as it was the first time I had been alone with somebody one on one. "Where am I?" I asked her... she did not respond. "Is there any way that you would please let me call my parents, I think that this is a terrible mistake." I tried to explain that I am a very good normal average sort of kid etc. She told me that she could not and that if I was there- than this is where I was suppose to be there. "Please just let me call my parents, I swear this is a mistake." When she again told me no, I tried to hold it together, but I began to sob all over again. I couldn't control my sadness; I had never experienced such sadness in my entire life. At this point I was asking myself what did my life even mean anymore? What was the purpose of being alive if I had no control of my own life? I hadn't done anything wrong. She asked me to get naked and I did and squatted/coughed for her. She took all of my clothes- my bra, my underwear and sunglasses and handed my a plain red t-shirt, cargo shorts, hiking boots and hanes granny underwear and child's unpadded sports bra. She then pulled out a tarp and began making a Yukon backpack. You place all items on the ground on top of a flat tarp- then you precisely roll up items with tent tarp and tie it with a chord and intertwine in cloth straps. (I later became a pro at making this thing). When the backpack was finished she told me to pick it up and carry it (it weighed around 50-60 lbs). Between being so exhausted, emotionally drained and not use to carrying the self-made hiking backpack, my shoulders ached. I honestly recall just feeling dead inside. We walked out to the van and she placed the pack in the back and told me to get in.
We drove for about 15-20 minutes to a very wooded area. We pulled into a sandy pit and she told me that we would be walking a mile and to tie my hiking shoes well. I put on the large pack and began to follow her through the wooded trail. It is now around 5 oclock- but it still seemed like the early afternoon- the sun was blazing bright and I remember that birds were chirping a bunch etc. Eventually I began to hear voices in the distance. We soon approached a group of the dirtiest girls I had ever laid my eyes on. These girls looked around 13-15 years old. They were covered in dirt and were all laying around a cleared out area playing in the dirt (I later learned they were fire busting)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNLGW9uG2fE - this is part of what it takes to get out of the program we were stuck in. The girls looked at me with such sadness and sympathy. However, one girl approached me with a big smile on her face. She introduced herself to me along with two staff members. The woman who had walked me to the sight had the guides sign off on some papers and walked away. Nobody else spoke to me out of the 13 girls who were there because as I later learned, you were not allowed to speak or interact with a new person until they made it onto the first phase of the program unless you are their assigned big sister. Total mental torture.
All in all I ended up living in this hippee wilderness program for eight weeks. Time was the scariest aspect of all because we didn't know how long we would be there for- there was no set duration of stay. Along with this we were not allowed to know what day of the week it was or the time of day that it was. We showered once a week via boiling hot water. We would fill our water bottles with the water and take hand soap with us to a tarp and clean ourselves behind it with the dirty sports bra we wore the week prior. We were given two sets of every clothing item other than our underwear, which we had 4 pairs of. Minus the underwear, we changed our clothes once a week aka super disgusting because we hiked every day and lived outside. Our sources of water were lakes, ponds, cow poop holes etc and it was purified via chemicals which the staff held. Our water was filled with living visible bugs and moving worms, leeches and dirt/actual cow poop. And We drank it. That was that. I'm not complaining, like it was water. Our food was moldy and we carried it in the heat and changed it out every week. Each week we walked for miles all over the Colorado forests- sometimes ending up 50 miles away from our base sight by the end of the week. We would then be driven or walk back to the base sight and spend two days there to shower, get more food dropped off for us etc. We were never left alone. When we used the bathroom we would have to yell our name every few seconds so the staff knew that we were not running away. At night, they took all of our shoes, rain gear, jackets etc so we could not run away (many kids did though anyway). We slept in our individual tarps with a sleeping bag- there were no pillows. We could never talk to another fellow group member without a staff hearing or listening to our conversation. If any of these rules were broken.. the longer we would be there for. There were so many other crazy things and rules that I could try to describe, but it would just take me too long to give an accurate description or to explain everything well and its getting pretty late at night right now as I'm typing this out folks.
But my journey did not stop there. After my eight weeks in this program, I attended the "boarding school" my parents signed over my legal guardianship to. This prior program unbeknownst to me was just a pre-requisite for going to the "boarding school" in Montana. This entire time throughout my journey, I was unaware of what I was destined for and when this hell would end. This is truly what is so hard for me to even be able to describe, the feeling of having absolutely no control of anything in your life. The boarding school was border line abusive and emotionally/mentally affected me in many ways. These effects still leave me devastated at times and have caused me to struggle with making friends with other people in college. Although I am a pretty average, normal, smart, good looking female, I feel as if I will always feel like a bit of an outsider or at a different stage of life from those in my age group. This experience has also cost me my relationship with the guy I love more than anything. It plagues me at times because I do have some emotional effects from this experience that I cannot really describe. This is why I am actually writing this post. I thought it would hopefully in a way be therapeutic for me.
To summarize the rest of my tale- after attending the boarding school for 19 months- I finally left. This place had no phones, no computers, no sense of any normalcy of regular life. Just as before like in the wilderness experience, there was no set duration of stay- you never knew how much longer you were going to be there for. There were very strict rules at the school, yet in contrast to the prior place, nothing was straight forward at boarding school. They manipulated us by not allowing for the rules to be written down (the number one rule was that there was no rules- by living there you agreed to everything!). This meant that at the drop of a pin, the word of a staff, or the change of one persons mind, something, anything, and everything became against the rules. We could not read, we could not listen to normal music, no tv, no radio. All of letters to parents were read, we were told what our problems were and had to accept it and work on these things or we were told we were in denial.
I am now a year and a few months out from this terrible ordeal. I know I am a normal human being, I've just had to deal with a very difficult situation and compared to most I think I live an incredibly normal and functional life. I feel like most would have fallen apart or would not be standing in the place that I am in today. It was an incredibly rough situation, but despite the negative impact it has left on my life, it has also changed my life and me for the better in many ways.
The original testimony on Reddit
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