So last week, I found my best friend/partner in crime from Anneewakee! I can’t believe it was so hard to find her. I have searched Facebook for her name for the last 3 to 4 years. I decided to search again after going through all of the Anneewakee photos on one of the groups web pages. Three or four people down, I saw one from my husband’s high school in North Carolina, so, I clicked that one. IT’S HER OMG! I did not believe it at first. She has some of the same friends on Facebook as my husband does….grew up in the same area. Last year I spent a week in her town, visiting family, and I am sad that I was not able to find her before that! But now, when we go see grandma, we can see her too!!!
I talked to her on the phone, and she made my southern accent come back. That happens when I talk to someone from the south. She said I sound the same, and I forgot to tell her she does too! She helped me remember some things…. Like, once her mother came and spent the weekend on campsite with us! I do not remember anything about parents coming there. My mom never did. Now that I think about it, I would bet that her mom came because she did not get to go on home visits yet, and her mom missed her. I went on home visits, and I would not have traded in a home visit for her to come stay there with us. I totally wish that had happened now though!
We were both 14, and the youngest ones in the group. I was happy to have someone my age in the group. I was just young by myself till she came. We annoyed the other girls. We really weren’t bad, did not brake rules, we annoyed the staff too! I am glad no one cares about that now. We both have the same first name, and were born 5 days apart.
We plan to see each other soon =)
The day I came four more girls came. The lodge, dorm, clinic and admin building were there. I was there all alone for a few hours! Scared to death. The second day we started working on campsite(abidaban), nothing but a big red hill. My good friend Meg (who I’m still looking for) did something wrong(can’t remember what) and Martha Kitchens, the admin. at the time, made her dig a 12 inch hole with a spoon and the whole group of 7 had to watch. It was terrible. I knew it truly going to be hell!!!! I have so many stories, good and bad! I learned a lot and missed out on so much. It feels good to talk about sometimes, it was a great part of my life, I grew a lot.
Today I struggle with the facts…
-Oct. 1, 1986: Poetter charged by Douglas Sheriff Earl Lee with three counts of sodomy, one count of cruelty to children and one count of simple battery. At the time, Poetter is believed to be in Mexico City. Carl Maxwell Moore, Poetter’s chauffeur, is charged with sodomy.
Oct 1 1986, I was at Anneewakee. I had been there for a year. During that month I remember only one person being pulled out of the program, and that was one of the first people I ever saw get pulled out!
We came back to our group site after a day of working. There was a car parked at the entrance of our trail. How odd this was. Most parents had never seen Anneewakee. Parents were allowed to come to the first building on the road, this is where we had family counseling. I do not remember parents ever coming past that point. Up till this day we had no hope. No one I knew had ever been pulled out of the program and you usually had to be 18 to go home.
As we walked closer to the trail, one of our group members became excited, and ran to the woman standing outside of that car. It was Sonja’s mom!!! She seemed angry. She wasn’t going to take any shit from our group leader/Staff person. She said ” get your things right now, we are leaving ” I am pretty sure she followed us down the trail to our campsite, and was the only parent to ever do that!!!! Sonja packed her things into a plastic bag and went home that day. We did not get to say good bye to her, not in a real way. The bonds that we made at Anneewakee were unbreakable. I though about her for years and years, she reminds me of an actress I see a lot. Last year I was reunited with her and this makes me happy. I told her how that had given us hope and that made her happy.
I had a family counselling session on Oct 30 or Oct 31st, 1986. I had a copy of our Psychiatrist schedule. It showed how we each went in to see him, 5 minutes apart.
Here is a bill for a month at ATC, Dr Balbona was the Psychiatrist who made sure we all stayed as Anneewakee. He would tell our insurance companies how we needed to stay at Anneewakee, to sty alive…. He did not speak English and one day when I said to him I wanted to be on drugs like some of the other girls, he put me on Ritalin. By 1986 they were charging 100$, twice a week for every 5 minutes we spent with the Dr.
I planned to show my parents proof, finally, that I had been telling the truth the whole time, and this place was full of shit. I had no idea Poetter had been in jail since Oct 6th. I can only assume that this was all over the news and TV at the time, because ever since, when I mention I had been at Anneewakee to someone from Georgia, They knew exactly what I was talking about. I was wearing my Halloween costume. This is how I know my dates were correct. They only let you dress up one day a year at ATC, and that was it.
During Family Counselling, it was also brought up by my Mom, that she thought they had been tampering with my mail. She said that I had dated every letter, and they never had come to her in the order they were written. She wanted to know if this was their sneaky way of making me look crazy and inconsistent..My parents got angry and yelled at my Councillor. I believe they were trying hard not to believe the truth by this point because it hurt them so much to know it. Every single letter I had ever written home, begged them to believe my side of the story and to come get me. For a year they had been told I was lieing….They finally rescued me.
I went home that day…. I went right back to my campsite and packed a garbage bag of my things, I do not think they let my parents come with me to the campsite.
When I went home I did not watch the TV and had no idea any of these things were happening in the news. I found out years later, that I had a chance to go to court and get paid back for a year of hard labor, and more.
Today I still have nightmares. Almost regularly. Usually in my dreams, I am trying to ask for help or tell my story and no one will listen to me. I woke up from a dream last week, and was crying, almost hyperventilating. I normally do not spend a lot of my time thinking about Anneewakee, but my dream inspired me to tell my story and hope some one will listen to it. Maybe once I am done, I can dream about something better.
Right now I have to ask, Where where the angry mobs of parents? Why didn’t they come? No one listened to us!
-Nov. 7, 1986: Nine young women, ages 19 to 24, sue Anneewakee, charging the hospital with racketeering and conspiracy to abuse them sexually and physically, and defraud them financially. Poetter released after five weeks in the Douglas County Jail when friends and supporters raise his $1 million bond.
Mabel Poetter was Doc Poetter’s wife. In March 1987, she was charged with failure to report child abuse. Doc would bring boys into their home and rape them while she was home.
I met her in December 1985. She presented herself as a good Christian woman. She came one night to speak to us girls in the E&O. I had been at Anneewakee for about 2 months now. She spoke to us about how we were never going to be anything other than mothers/house wives, and that is really what God wanted us to strive for. I hated every thing about her. She was just another hypocrite. To make it worse, after her speech, she gave 2, and only 2 girls a cabbage patch doll and said they were voted the “Most Motherly” of our group. After she left the dolls were confiscated by the staff and I never saw anyone with one the whole time I was at Anneewakee. Just more of the psychological bull shit they loved at that place.
I wonder how confused this woman was. She was apparently mentally disabled.
One night after dinner, it was announced we would all need to go back to our group sites and gather up some winter clothing for the night. They never told us why we did anything….we just did it. They loaded us in vans and drove us to Alabama to go skiing in the middle of the night!!!! I think it was Cloudmont Ski & Golf Resort..
I was anywhere for 150 to 200 of us. I think we all got to go! They rented us all skis and let us go. It was the most fun I had at ATC I think. Most of us being from Georgia, we had no idea how to ski. They had some kind of rope thing that was supposed to pull you up the hill, an I could not figure that out! After trying a few times, I gave up and walked up the hill. I wish I could remember who was with me, because that really was a good night! When I got to the top of the hill, I sat down to put on my skis, and one went on down the hill without me. So that is about as far as I ever got with skiing. Now I live in Colorado and I have still not tried to ski again.
Even though all the girls were there, we could still only talk to our group members. I only remember one of us being able to actually ski. We all stood at the bottom of the hill and watched her come down the hill like a pro! We were cheering her on and saying how amazing she was, when we realized she may not know how to stop! She kept coming toward us, and right before she got to this huge muddle puddle she finally stopped. Then slowly fell face first into the mud. So Totally Awesome!!!!
No one ran away that night. I thought about it the whole damn time, but I was 14 and had no idea where I was. Well, maybe I was 15 now, my birthday is in February. Freedom would be so nice. It is nice now, they have cokes and candy for sale, and there are regular people walking around. I wondered if I told someone would they help me. That is a waste of time, I will just have fun for now.