More Stories

The following stories were submitted to the New Beginnings survivor group (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/NBGAsurvivors/) after the creation of this blog. These stories are posted with the permission of their writers.

Please note the similarities between these accounts of the school's past and the more recent accounts included in the NBGA "Survivor Stories" section of this blog.


 

R.A.'s STORY

Note: This story was originally posted in a different survivor group forum (for accounts of alumni of the New Bethany Home for Girls, another Roloff program run by another Roloff disciple and trainee by the name of Mack Ford.) The Rebekah Home & New Beginnings have often been called the "sister programs" of New Bethany. Ironically enough, even the directors shared the same nickname used by all the detainees: "Brother Mac." While in their later years these programs diverged in different geographical directions, both clung ever-tight to Roloff's vision and model.

New Bethany is now closed, but our survivor group encourages all to research the history of New Bethany to fully understand the model of Rebekah & New Beginnings. According to survivors, Mack Ford - much like so many other leaders of akin Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) residential programs also heavy laden with thousands of identical abuse allegations - strove to emulate his mentor and his mentor's legacy. 

Working closely with our group on Facebook, the New Bethany survivor group connected R.A. with the New Beginnings survivor group and R.A. granted us permission to post her account here.

R.A. is a survivor of another program run by Bill & Jennifer McNamara prior to their time as Directors of the Rebekah Home for Girls and New Beginnings Ministries. This is her story.



Hi, I didn't go to NB, I went to Charity Haven in Florida which later merged with /took over Victory Acres Children's home in Alice, Tx. Bill McNamara and his wife were the dorm parents there.

 A little of my story is that I was sent to Florida in 97 when I  was 11years old. I stayed in trouble there. I left shortly before I turned 13. My parents told me I was never coming home. I thought my mom just didn't want me anymore and I was so hurt and angry about it that when I went to the girl's home I was so scared and confused. My mom and I have since talked...right around the time I turned 21...I'm 25 now.

We talked about why she sent me there and I've forgiven her. There are still days that I just don't understand, and I start getting angry  again, but I spend 11 years hurt and angry to the point I almost hated her. I don't understand her decisions, but I've come to accept them as her truths, and I'm willing to leave it at that since we have had a decent relationship since.

While in the girls home things weren't as bad as the NB stories I have heard, in many ways it was a cake walk compared to what you guys went through. But it was hell for me. I never was a bad kid, but that wasn't why I was sent there. I became bad while I was there.

I got my first licks and put on "red" with in the first week or two I was there because I couldn't stop talking to people other than my buddy. I was probably in the top 10 girls up to that point with the most demerits. It started out for little things like there was lint on the mirror after I cleaned it or I missed a spot, or there was lint on the toilet...my chores were never perfect. I talked and argued alot. I've always been one to respect authority, but not when they are just kids themselves.

Like I said I was angry. I was 11 and felt like I was thrown out into the world all on my own. I felt like my family hated me and I was ripped away from my brother who had always been by my side throughout our abusive childhood with my crackhead/alcoholic father. I was so lost and so afraid and lonely that I did the only thing I could think of. I built my walls as high as I could and settled in to fight my way through it. 

When I tried to be good, it was never enough....so why try.....if I'm going to constantly be in trouble....then at least by God I'll earn it.  And I did. I learned that  by staying on red I didn't have to talk to anyone....no one could scream out that I was being negative if I couldn't talk, I was less likely to argue...but mostly I could live inside  my head which was the only safe place there. 

Most of my time was spent running laps, standing on the wall, scrubbing the floor (cleaning solution, toothbrush and one tiny patch of tile on hands and knees parallel to the floor....no sitting on your ankles), Early on I kept talking on red....all the time. When they realized their punishments didn't work for me they found new ones. Walking around with about 15 lbs of books in my outstretched arms for hours, they tried jalapeno/ cheyenne pepper but I could eat jalapenos like they were nothing but some of the girls  broke out in hives, I wrote lots and lots of lines, then it became the chapter of Proverbs corresponding to the day of the month over and over  every spare second of the day, then military style physical training to work of demerits, and then when all else failed.....I dug holes.....lots and lots of 4'x4' or 6'x '6 holes.....dig it.....get it approved....fill it in....start over.

Mrs. Walkden A.K.A. Mamma Hen, used to yell at me that I was full of the devil and God couldn't love me. That I was a horrible child. One day it got to the point that she started getting in my face telling me that No wonder my mom didn't want me and didn't love me anymore and that if I didn't get rid of the demons controlling me I was going to burn in hell like my Grandpa...who had died about 6 weeks before I went into the girls home. I was so angry I wanted to hit her. I remember fighting the flash of red because I knew the girls would hold me down again and I hated that....I punched the couch and broke my hand. She had the girls shove me in the "prayer closet" which was a walk in closet with a sitting area just big enough for a couch and a chair and a coffee table. All the walls were carpeted to muffle sounds or for punching. It had one tiny window way up at the top of the wall. One of the girls tried to bring me water and ice for my hand and got in trouble. I couple hours later it was time to run laps. If you were on red you had to run with bricks in each hand....theses weren't the little red ones with holes in them....theses are the ones  a little bigger that are solid concrete. I told them I couldn't move my hand much less carry a brick. She held my hand out and dropped a brick on it anyway just to see if I'd grab it. I still have a hard time with my hand when the weather changes...or just randomly. I never went to the doctor for it and now it's too late.

I spent almost two months in the prayer closet. [note: isolation confinement room.] My school work was done in there, and I was supposed to spend every other moment writing lines or Proverbs chapters. I wasn't allowed out to use the restroom or shower unless I had permission. I ate in there slept in there with no pillow or blankets. While the girls were in school I started sneaking out to use the restroom but I got caught once and they started locking the door. I couldn't sneak out anymore. If I spoke at all I got licks. If I tried to ask to use the bathroom even by writing it down I would get in trouble. So unless they told me I could go, I couldn't. I won't go into anymore details of that unless someone asks, as I've never discussed that with anyone.

Then the girls would complain that I stunk....first digging holes out in the sun in the middle of summer....stinking is going to happen...second  my hair was down to my hips...I could sit on it...10 minutes from the second you shut the door until you open it was never enough for me to shower. Then they decided I used too much shampoo and limited me to a teaspoon measured out and poured in a cup,,,,after drizzling it off the spoon it was more like half a teaspoon. I finally cut my hair because of the lice that ran rampant in the home. The allowed the girls to pour straight bleach over my head at one point trying to kill the lice and  they got it in my eyes. Many times they would allow what they call Military showers....several girls would grab me or another girl and throw us clothes and all into a cold shower and forcefully scrub us raw.

Some of us got daily doses of Epsom salt in orange juice...and 4 squares of toilet paper for a No.1 and 8 or a No.2. I used to have a weak bladder that would send me running to pee with only a few drops but felt like I'd been holding it for hours. During one of these times they refused to let me go and I ended up having an accident and got spanked for it.

When CPS would investigate after a couple girls ran away and contacted them we were forced to record the entire situation and told exactly what we were and were not allowed to say. If we strayed we would pay for it....At that point anything was better than CPS again....this was before my stint in the "prayer room." [

During the transfer to Victory Acres in Alice we stayed at the old Rebekah house dorms and followed life on the Roloff ranch. Even the adult women were allowed to be receive licks during that time. All women faced the wall if and when any man walked by. I can still smell the fields there and the way the cafeteria would smell. 

When I transferred to the home in Alice things eased up a little. I had been on red or 6 months straight. The McNamara's helped me get off red. It took a week of not a single demerit. Almost all of the girls with me did everything they could to help me...I'll never forget that....after weeks of licks almost every night. I think the main reason he started being nice to me was so his youngest daughter would have someone to play with....the repercussions of this weren't so great. I wasn't allowed to mow he said I was too young, so sometimes instead of outdoor chores, he'd have me play with his daughter...some of the other  girls weren't impressed.

There are many other stories I remember. I have pictures from there still.

What it comes down to for me is that I know how I was before I went into that girls home and that's not who I am anymore.  I know people grow and change as the years go by, but I wonder just how much of who I am today is because of my time there. 

I become painfully shy when someone hears that I was in a girls home....but I fight it as hard as I can. I don't hide it in relationships no matter how embarrassing it is....It is something that happened in my life...but I can't let it control my life.

I've had several people tell me that I would have been better off had I just tried to please the authority there. I believe in my heart that had I done that I would have become just what they wanted me to. I believe my stubbornness is how I survived there.

Most of the time I believe I handle things pretty well. I either don't think about it at all, or I find positive outcomes from it.

When I am facing something I don't think I can handle or that I think is too much I remind myself that I survived my time in the girls home. I survived the darkest loneliest chapter of my life at 11-12 years old. Most of the time that gives me the courage to face my fears head on.

However, no matter how hard I have tried to move on from that chapter and try not to let it impact my life in a negative way, I can't escape it completely. There are those times when it comes back to bite me in the rear. Those days when I feel that loneliness all over again. Those days that I just need to talk about it. My husband and I will be divorced tomorrow and sadly we are more friends now than we have been since we met. I can talk to him about it when I need to, but he doesn't understand, and most of the time he is disinterested in it altogether. Those family members in my life who are usually my strength when I'm not strong enough have either asked me not to talk about it or have implied that they don't want to hear about it because to them they either get angry or depressed.

I have considered counseling  before, but  I was placed there because of some stuff CPS started with my family. But they put so many lies in the CPS report, things that I told the counsellor that were changed around that I have lost all trust for counselling. I said I tasted cat food once out of curiosity....the put that  I was being forced to eat cat food by my parents because they wouldn't feed me anything else.

I have been trying to find me...the real me....the me not affected by what happened those two years. 

I apologize for this being so long. I have spent so much time reading the posts here back to May of 05 actually. I've cried so many times for you all. Knowing what I went through and knowing how it affected me, I can only imagine the scars many of you carry and my heart will forever go out to you.







CHERYL'S STORY


Note: Cheryl is a survivor of the Rebekah Home for Girls from another time period when the Home was forced to relocate to other states to avoid official correction, surfacing of mass or heavy allegations of maltreatment, and/or accepting state oversight and regulation of their practices. Cheryl was detained in the Rebekah Home program in 1986 in the state of Missouri.



I was in Rebekah when it was in Benton, MO in 1986 for 32 days (I think - it gets fuzzy toward the end). I spent most of my time in lockup, where I wasn't allowed to shower or change my clothes for 18 days while listening to Brother Roloff sermons. Brother Palmer and his wife ran the home when I was there, and their daughter Cheryl was one of the Honeybees who died with Brother Roloff. They used to say that God sent them a new Cheryl.

Rebekah was housed in a dorm at Calvary Bible College. The girls were all on the 3rd floor, and they had the fire escape doors chained shut. Windows could only open about 2 inches, and the glass was made with wire mesh embedded so that even if they broke no one could get out.

I had only been in Rebekah a few days when I chose to fight back by walking 1 step outside my room when we were all supposed to be resting. It was a Sunday. When I didn't go back into my room I was placed in Lockup where I wasn't allowed to shower, brush my teeth, or even change my underwear for 18 days. The entire time I was there I had to listen to Brother Roloff sermons on tape.

After I got out of Lockup, they put me on Confinement. The only person I was allowed to talk to (and I had to raise my hand first) was Brother Palmer. I didn't pay attention to that and would talk when the Palmer's weren't around (since it wasn't their building it was harder for them to supervisor) and I told the other girls that there were more of us than them. I think that's why I got kicked out.

I remember being beaten a couple of times with a thick paddle with holes in it. I had a scar on my left leg for many years, but it has finally vanished. I also had them "casting out demons" from me and praying for God to deliver me from possession.

When I was kicked out, Brother Cameron had come in for a visit and he called me into Brother Palmer's office and gave me a lecture about how no one had ever been kicked out before. He said that if they were still able to use the Corpus Christi facility they would just leave me in lockup until I finally came around. Then they put me on an airplane by myself back to my parents, and I chain smoked in the smoking section of the plane (they had those then) the whole way home because I knew it would make them mad if they ever found out about it.

I know I was lucky to only be there for a short time, but Rebekah still haunts me even now. I'm 41-years-old and I still can hear Bible Memo in my head and remember how powerless I felt. I can remember attending church services and not being allowed to look at or make eye contact with anyone.