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Sarasota Straight, Inc. Survivors

From Sarasota Straight, Inc. Survivors

Chris Carlton

19 months and 14 days.

Sarasota branch

I was put into Straight Incorporated 20 days before I turned 16. One of my big crimes before Straight goes like this. My best friend from church and I were arrested for dropping fluorescent light tubes from the top of the Palmetto. FL water tower in the middle of the night. (small town anyone?) I had also smoked pot for the first time the summer before my 15th birthday and by now could probably manage to get a ¼ ounce with my best friend once a month or so if I was lucky.
I’m sure the main reason for my incarceration wasn’t drugs, but that I had completely quit taking orders from my parents. Not going to church, not coming home, coming home late, yelling like I had learned it from the pro’s. This was all true.

I also had once grabbed a large kitchen knife to shield myself from my older brother during a bad argument on Christmas Day. The knife did no good, he knocked me unconscious moments later. He was 18 and a body builder at the time, me 14 and an artist. I woke up tied in electrical cords and rope on my living room floor. My uncle and cousin were there. Everyone was standing over me re-acting to me struggling crazily. Saying, “He‘s on drugs!”, “He‘s crazy.” I hadn’t yet tried pot at this point, so they were actually wrong. I wasn’t on drugs.For the record my brother went on to later in life abuse both his wife and his son. I’m sorry that they had to endure that. Mark had been controlling me with induced pain and violence from birth. He could control me with a glance. I hated my parents for not protecting me from him. Mark is no longer alive. He was struck by lightning years ago. I remember standing next to his casket with my hand on his chest, crying. It was the first time I had ever been in the same room with him and not been terrified.

I hated my home life and spent most of my time at my best friends house even eating most meals there. His Mother also attended our church and my parents and her were friends.My parents thought I had problems long before Straight. I was being psyche & IQ tested and sent to counselors since I was 9 or so Mom says now. For the record I had also been a successful Boy Scout, published my own School newspaper at the age of 7 and built my own electric guitar from scratch using old stereo components when I was 9. I did have problems, big problems. I could not accept the things I was being told to believe about the world.

When you enter the program you begin 1st phase. You are called a new-comer. You have no rights and have to gain permission for each physical move you make, under the guise that you may be trying to escape. This means you even have to ask to move across the bedroom to get a pencil. Bathroom trips also have to be approved and you are watched while doing your business. Remember that the person enforcing this stuff is another kid or two, not some trained clinician. The parents do not normally intervene, even in their own homes.

It’s 24/7 without a break. You’re not allowed any entertainment, not even reading. No reading road signs on the way to the building. No reading the cereal box at breakfast. No music, no TV, no nothing. You are alone for sure. You have no contact with anyone on the outside including your parents. Every privilege will now have to be earned. For me it was terrifying having no one to help/console me during the most frightening experience of my life.
You’re either with the program or not, these crazy sounding rules are self-enforcing really. Any infraction is considered to be rebellion, never just a mistake. So the minute you decide to go along, whether faking or not, you have to accept these rules completely and place them on yourself in total, for fear of not progressing and never having freedom again. Punishment is normally only for those resisting in some way. All those who conform are left alone and treated with total respect. It’s a brilliant system and it works. As a dear friend said: “It is just horrific, because this has come out of people researching and coming up with theories of how to control people, using other kids coz they know peer pressure will work better than using adult authority figures. It is sick. I just see Facist Nazi’s when I read this…it is their tactics.”
You can just imagine how the former “click” associations played out once inside the program. You could easily tell what click people were in before the program most of us probably brought it up early when it was our turn to talk. It was one way to not feel alone. Of course it also gave staff the opportunity to place former “hippies” new-comers with former “jock” old-comers, you know, in order to “help us process our true feelings.” How great it must have been to finally get the revenge your click so deserves buy having complete control over your worst high school enemy. I was on the receiving