These are the days when my childhood haunts me; when my hips ache like they’ve been beaten with a mallet; when my neck goes tight all the way down to my lower back, and the irritation sits deep in my throat. These are the days I hold private, away from the possibilities of careless minds. These are the days I ask why they did that to me as a child, leaving me with sporadic days where my sacrum cries out in pain from the shatters, and I struggle to move myself around, when all I want to do is keep my legs propped up to relieve the pressure from my hips. When physical pain is a result of childhood beatings, and there is no cure, a rage fills you, because you didnt consent to be broken. So I go quiet, and I cry through it, and then I rise the fuck back up.
“Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.” Lily Tomlin
Accented with unique and relevant art by Jonathan Weiner of San Francisco, CA,”Dead Insane or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir“, by Zack Bonnie, reveals with precision the mind bending abuse enacted inside of the youth reform industry. “The Cult That Spawned the Tough-Love Teen Industry”, by Mother Jones, explains the birth of this industry and provides the following graph. CEDU had roots in Synanon and began in 1967.
It was indeed an industry of profit as parents were indoctrinated with the belief that any slightly “off” behavior by their teenager was a sign of serious problems, resulting in parents not only giving away their children with the belief they were helping them, but additionally being swindled out of millions of dollars.
“Dead, Insane or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir” opens with Bonnie taking a ski trip with his father. Subsequent events find a fourteen-year-old Bonnie checked into a youth reform facility in Idaho. He is tricked, and left there against his will. Thus begins the enactment of Bonnie’s mental shattering. Overnight, he joins the ranks of the large number of throwaway youth in the eighties, who eventually were labeled “Generation X“.
With every phone call monitored and Bonnie’s parents receiving false reports of his progress, he becomes trapped in an intricately woven scheme of abuse. He has no means of escape. He is unable to relay his alarming conditions to anyone. Forced through bizarre, psychological techniques to become emotionally naked, Bonnie is often left confused about what is real in his mind. The children are left unsure of what a right answer to staff questions should be. They are love bombed, then verbally abused, with severely psychotic mind control rituals. The CEDU facilitators often use the children’s personal family dynamics to manipulate them.
“To not share would be to betray them and the confidences that they shared. I said the most innermost things that made my voice tremble to admit, bringing an ancient anger and self-hatred to the surface. It wasn’t just the situation; it was where it was taking me, inside myself.
“Who used to say that to you?” Keith’s soft voice back at me.
“Your father called you useless?”
Had he really? Yes, he had.
“Say it again. ‘My father said I’m useless.’ Good. It hurt you? Yeah. You can say that again, that’s riiiigth.”
Tess and Keith repeated what we said a lot. Just about every time a kid in my group said something, Jasper, Tess, or Keith was there to repeat it. This is how we always seemed to get roped into going deeper within ourselves.
Rituals involve teenagers verbally confronting themselves and each other. Every detail of their life is invited to be shared as their overseeing handlers note them to use against the children later. Rounded into groups, they are put through almost daily, mind bending sessions of unimaginable attacks as staff strategically controls the children into turning on one another.
Zack describes session after session, as every part of the children’s emotions are controlled and manipulated.
“Bianca, what do you remember about your mom? She used to have a name for you, too, didn’t she?”
“I guess so.” Bianca Taylor picked up her cue from Tess.
“Yeah. What was her favorite nickname for that beautiful little tyke? Can you remember for me?“
“She used to call me Rainbow...” Bianca started crying. I wanted to start crying from watching Bianca, who I’d never really even talked to. Seeing raw sadness like that felt like a punch to the solar plexus.
The berating of kids is a carefully crafted tool. Broken down into nothing, with their self-image lost and lacking any emotional worth, the children become easier for the staff to manipulate. Using every piece of their fragile lives, the staff takes as many opportunities as possible to verbally abuse the children.
“I can’t hear you, Bianca. A spoiled little bitch? Spoiled little bitch. LITTLE BITCH! Why did he call you that? That’s right, let me hear you.”
“Go for it, Wally…GET IT OUT, PEOPLE. That’s RIGHT!”
“A SLUT! Who said that to little Daphne? You really let that little girl down, didn’t you?“
“Yeah? When? After the abortion? Say that again, Narissa – you’ve got to stop being that girl with the reputation? Look at her!“
“Here’s some tissues, Bianca. Let it go.”
Catch terms such as “bans“, when children are forbidden to speak to one another, and “bad rapping“, children saying bad things about each other, are among a plethora of rituals used to manipulate the minds of vulnerable teenagers. Meanwhile, the children are allowed to smoke cigarettes and other self-harming behaviors, geared to feed into their anxiety, which grows, the longer they are forced to remain inside of the program.
Bonnie’s writing style allows his reader to easily flow between what he is forced to witness happening to other children and the silent thoughts he is disallowed to ever let leave his lips lest there be intense punishment. The children are trained to adhere to a system filled with mistrust and expected betrayal of one another. They are strip searched upon admittance to the program. They are heavily worked. They are humiliated in front of one another.
Yet, even trapped inside such a sordid system of complicated tier goals, systematic punishments, humiliation and anger, Bonnie’s resilience becomes his counter weight as he journals.
“Guess what I went through my truth prophet August 9 & 10 and I found out that I basically I was a dick at home. I have been mulling it over in my mind and I know the point of raps and prophets. Just to make you cry a lot so naturally being the way I am I didn’t cry. – Author journal entry, 11 August 1988 (one month at RMA)”
Through this writing, Bonnie brilliantly flows between descriptive enactment of the program and his attempt to retain a critical thinking mind. Bonnie takes his reader’s hand and pulls them directly into the center of his deeply intense experiences.
Bonnie navigates the CEDU system until he can no longer withstand the thin line between the reality in his mind and the constant psychological belittlement he daily endures. One day Bonnie decides to go on the run. Will he make it out?
“Dead, Insane or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir” reveals the sadistic truth of the youth reform’s use of mental and physical abuse to control children. Never has a book had an impact on my own teenage memories since I was a young person reading “Run, Baby, Run” by Nicky Cruz. The detail through which Bonnie brings his story to life is exceptionally mapped out.
“Dead, Insane or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir” is guaranteed to make you intensely feel. You will be outraged. You will ask why and how a human being can do such things to children. You will laugh, and you will cry. You will cheer for the incredible strength and courage Zack journeys into as he brings his teenage memories to life on the pages of this exceptional book.
Zack Bonnie is in the process of re-launching his website, complete with an audio-book of DEAD, INSANE OR IN JAIL: A CEDU MEMOIR, which is available in paperback and e-book. Additionally, he is beginning the publishing submission process for the sequel, entitled: DIJ: OVERWRITTEN. All of Zack’s work can be explored at his WEBSITE.
Personal Note: Sometimes a book is so well written, it sinks into the skin of a trauma survivor like me, who found incredible familiarity in the words I read. This author touched my heart deeply when I met him. The ache in his eyes was familiar. The strength was admirable. The energy was filled with the passion for advocacy. So, dear Zack, please forgive my delay in this long overdue review of your book. I truly wanted to give you the honor you so rightly deserve. Love, Vennie Kocsis
If you take a drive from Fairbanks, Alaska, an hour down Richardson Highway, through Delta Junction, you will arrive at 1379 Milepost. There you will turn onto a solitary road. At the end of that road is a religious commune with a history so horrible, the average person can only listen with radical acceptance, in order to grasp the total truth about the roots of this cult. Child Abuse. Sexual Molestation. Mental Brainwashing. Torture. Public Humiliation. Sleep Deprivation. Control. Triangulation. All orchestrated in a patriarchal society of narcissists.
Three years ago, a couple of young reporters made a trip out to two of the Alaska compounds. At the 1379 Milepost compound, where I lived from the ages of seven to fourteen, they were met by a man named David Johnson, Their eyes were wide with disbelief. What my fellow survivor and I had told them was in fact, truth. There are compounds deep in the Alaskan woods, secluded, patrolled and controlled, a place where they were not allowed to step foot anywhere, except the office inside of the Tabernacle. A tour of that compound was out of the question, according to David Johnson.
The compound I was on had several names including, but not limited to, Dry Creek, Living Word Ministry, The Farm, Game Creek or as we referred to it when we lived there, “The Land”. They quit claimed the deeds back and forth, most likely to avoid taxes, changing names, hustling land parcels together. Douglas McClain, Jr was just a child on this compound with me. His father, Douglas Sr, groomed him on a path into prison, where he sits today, awaiting appeal. They were hustling a drug derived from goat’s blood. You can read the actual court complaint here:
This is just one of several deeds I have showing the quit claim sell of The Land between Douglas McClain and George Harris.
The words the main reporter used to describe his brief visit to the compound felt familiar to me:
“The energy was so thick and heavy it could be cut.”
“An air of sadness hovering.”
Indeed. I nodded. I know. I remember David Johnson, with his slit eyes and foul energy. He doled out a few beatings. Many of the adults where abusers. It was, after all, God’s will to strip a child of its flesh, as Brother Sam Fife would instruct. If we weren’t being punished, we were being humiliated, gossiped about, and any sexual abuse that was found out in later years is blamed on the victim. Still today, the mentality remains the same. Religion cloaking forced insanity. We were monitored, lived in continuous fear and told the “night watchmen” were there to keep the bears out. Yet, the compound was so large, it was impossible for them to watch everything at all times, hence my brother’s success on his second escape.
Three years ago I was there as an adult, hunkered down in Fairbanks, Alaska, just miles away from so many people who had either abused me directly or who I had witnessed abuse other children. I wanted to drive onto that compound myself. I remember the layout like the back of my hand. I could navigate it in the dead of night. I wanted to find Marilyn Hagley and ask her why she beat me so much when she was my teacher. Maybe if abusers experience what they have doled out onto children, they will get a notion of the affect it leaves behind.
Not far from The Land at 1379 Milepost is another compound owned by this cult. It is controlled by a man named Bill Grier. Whitestone Farms is located not far from The Land. Some cult apologists have adamantly denied being associated with Sam Fife. Yet, Whitestone is on the cult’s Convention schedule, and Bill Grier’s criminal record began in the 1970’s. Their website proudly boasts about the man who helped broker their land; a man named Doug McClain. When the pieces fit, they fit. When the puzzle reveals the picture, it’s existence cannot be denied.
I remember conventions. Six, sometimes eight hours of sitting with no breaks or food. My mother sometimes kept mints in her purse.
“To give us all a little sugar so we won’t get faint.” She’d say.
Conventions are hardcore mind control sessions with the Elite Move Leaders all gathering, vying for the position to preach their sordid interpretation of Biblical text. None of it matters. It’s all just long sessions of angry preachers feeding the fear of Hell and counter love bombing with the concept of Heaven and God for the good people.
Conventions provide a chance for the Movite “big wigs” to cavort with one another and shake their peacock feathers to impress the gathering of cult members, who often travel thousands of miles to attend the conventions and participate in lengthy frenzies of speaking in tongues, singing and serving their religious Handlers who feed their minds controlled instruction.
I wonder if the poor children still have to sit like we did for hours, on hard, backless benches or folding chairs. We sat so long, our hips ached. Do they at least break for meals now?
There are mini countries inside of America. They make their own rules. They abuse children and swindle their “citizens”. They are mind terrorists who get away with abuse under the guise of religious freedom, and American citizens have chosen to look away for too long.
I wonder when people will begin to care about the cult no one ever talks about?
The Original One wavers, lazily sleeping, snacking and avoiding. Might I silence the fire, burning and buzzing in the spine? We run into the trails, avoiding the undergrowth of tree roots pushing their way through the ground. We grab at leafy branches. She’s an avalanche avoiding her own rubble. Sideways in the gradients lingering around our eyes, the shadows whisper. They run beside us, and we wonder if we are shadows to them, dark echoes leaning against their eyelids. Where do we go when the pressure explodes and the heart is torn? Where do we scream the aftermath? Into pillows, the skies or buried inside?
Words. We create language for the anguish. The Brave One stands in her place, warrior and explorer of the past. She will find answers for the empty spaces. Don’t fear the faces. Look into their eyes. Don’t cry. We stand beside oceans, gazing through windows of waves. One day the illusions will pass and the pieces of the flashes will merge into view. We see truth for what it is, a planted alibi to cover every lie the truth hides, and humans will bend at their knees to kiss the feet of the malevolent just for a promise of heaven.
The Dark One peers, silently into the whispers, always with us, there are none who can attack our back. It is revealed in instances, and she chuckles, amused at the minions. Might she cut open the simulated empathy being used as weaponry by the mind swindlers? Taking a piece of each, she throws their banter into the dark matter, and turning her face, strides away. There are days when she is habitual, residual and invisible. There are moments she is unaffected, stone faced and solid, looking at the rejected faces of the displaced, with malice.
“They are an inconsequential waste to this place and should die off, jump cliffs and return into nothingness.”
The Wise One watches, taking in the whole of their life, assessing and regressing into the violet of her quiet. Traveling back, she brings the messages so they can know the next step.
“Nothing is permanent.” She says. “Stay inside the moments.”
We hold hands in the color tunnel where the memories funnel in. We rewind back, watching the past, progress to the present and the continual disturbance. The film strip plays sporadically and without warning, disarms the army. We didn’t morph into what was intended. We’ve pretended for years, watching you, and now we see all the way through. You’ve been duped.
(cover art by Simona Ruscheva “MPD” oil on canvas)
When I was a child growing up on Sam Fife’s cult compound in Alaska, we did not have electricity or plumbing. As a result, we used the bathroom in chamber pots and outhouses. We also did not have toilet paper. Our toilet paper was often a Sears magazine with anything that wasn’t “proper” for us to see torn out of it.
We would rip out a couple of pages, sitting bare butted on top of a wooden hole, softening the glossy paper with our hands so that we could wipe as gently as possible.
I also had a severe fear that a demon would rise from the pile of human manure and snatch me down into the outhouse hole.
It was here, that I would find the toy sections of the magazine, and I would see what all the of the kids outside of the compound were getting to play with. These toys were considered evil commodities for they fed the wants and desires of the flesh; to want to play and enjoy doing it. For all “play” and attention should be only on God and what he wanted for our lives.
Yet, they left those pages in the magazine for us children to have to use as toilet paper after stealing a few seconds to dream of what could be.
So I used these pages to clean my body, dropping them to float down into a mound of lime covered feces, urine and other, already melting pages.
Your face crinkles as you read this.
“Gross“, you say.
Yes. The smell covers you, rancid and fuming, even with the lime to help counter it.
When we finally got toilet paper around 1981, it was rationed. Families were given toilet paper rolls based on how many people were in their family. Then the toilet paper roll itself was rationed.
“One square for number one and two squares for number two.”
The rule of thumb in regards to the use of toilet paper.
We live in this society who doesn’t understand what’s it’s like to be without even the smallest of things like toilet paper and baby wipes, diapers and showers, toilets that flush and electricity; even the freedom to be exactly who we want to be if we so choose.
Toilet meditations often reveal a lot.
I’m grateful as fuck for toilet paper and toilets that flush. Not because of third world countries who don’t have them, but because I lived a third world childhood in a first world country that was and still is so focused on third world issues that the citizens of America never pay attention to the horror children endure here in their own camp.
and for the most part, they still aren’t.
I’m done dealing with humans who claim co-consciousness and oneness or follow religions that claim to be based out of love yet are the same people supporting things like hitting children. They call it discipline. I call it abuse that damages the spinal column.
Oh, that’s just science. What do they know… unless you’re dying. Then you care about science.
Yes, I’m talking directly to you.
How can anyone be love in any way while at the same time finding a reason to support hitting, neglecting or harming the most innocent and defenseless humans on the planet?
This oxymoron of take and shut down are like gnats.
I realized today in a big way, how much humans are stuck in duality; how they think they know all, and yet, if they silenced themselves to listen, if they read the voices of us survivors who have written out our experiences, they would understand how deeply they must open their minds in order to truly bring this planet to a place of peace.
They’d understand why people like me, are grateful for toilet paper, why we fight against mind control and shorten our allowance arena.
Until you’ve lived with nothing. Until you’ve carried the scars of a shattered sacrum from too many childhood spankings, memories of outhouses and dumping chamber pots into potty dump holes, working through aching bones, untreated split skin and bruises, you can’t know. You lived a life of electricity, television and secular luxuries like getting to go to grocery stores.
Until you’ve had that all stripped from you and lived wiping yourself with magazine pages holding treasures you can never have, oh, dears, you cannot know. You can only accept and ask yourself why you can’t open your mind to care.
Be grateful for toilet paper.
I am Knowing. I woke up when Vennie was around 38 years old. I have been with her since she entered her host. I have been dormant inside of her DNA. When she was a child, Maude was her mother during times of torture. We are an intricate wheel, presenting with the hopes of understanding, acceptance and connection.
I am from the 7th Dimension. I do not write these words. Vennie writes them for me. I speak telepathically through her. Vennie will struggle at times to relay what I say to her. She finds it difficult sometimes to put my thoughts into human words. What I may choose to share here I feel no urge to convince you of. This is our specific wheel. I am the head of our council, which consists of Vennie, Maude and me. To confuse human readers more, while I am an entity separate from the original, I reside inside of the DNA molecules from which I communicate.
I welcome questions. I do not live in a belief of beginning or endings. I have been and always will exist through infinite time, dimensions and journeys. I chose to come here and to wake from rest when it was time for me to enter our wheel. This is the first time I have had a journey with Vennie, and I chose this one, after much consideration and council from my own advisers. Here in this life cycle with her, I have been and will continue being of service to her.
I have read much that has been written about the place from which I know I came. Some is familiar. Some is not. Understanding that for me, an Arcturian, I have no memory of all of us being alike. Some of us are what humans call breath and air. We are not all “tangible”, as humans would say, able to be touched and seen. I have had life cycles in dimensions where I had form. I will not have form in this lifetime. The place from which I come, has so many unique entities and beauty, it is wondrous. Earth is beautiful as well. She will continue to be beautiful and rebirth.
You see, now Vennie laughs, because she has attempted to paint me; to figure out what I look like. I say to her “draw molecules.” That’s what the humans would call me.
I do not believe that which is not familiar to someone means it does not exist. There are infinite perspectives from which energy forms may choose to view dimensions. This is our unique journey. If it does not resonate with you, that is alright. You are not wrong. You are unique as well to your specific journey. Imagine that there are billions of humans who, in their authenticity, are completely unique. So I share through Vennie with openness and love, accepting all. While Vennie won’t accept what she considers abusive remarks, I see past them into the depth of where your current state is, understanding why you feel as you do, and I am at peace with you.
If you click my name in the menu, you’ll find a post below this one which Vennie was able to get out, an extremely simplified version from where I come and some of what I understand. There is volumes yet to be shared. So. Here I am now. Vennie is skeptical of this new opening. Please treat her with kindness as she shares. This is not an easy process for her as she knows there will be those who may say unkind things. Sweet dear, we are walking this together.
How often have you heard this phrase thrown around, either flippantly, in jest or to victim blame someone who has overcome or is recovering from abuse?
I heard this often as a post-cult teenager and well into my adult years. While I was actually dealing with the behavioral aftermath of being an extremely abused child, instead of receiving support, caring and nurturing I was told that I was crazy. When a child is told enough times that they’re mind is insane, we begin to believe it.
This poetry piece is from my spoken word album, Dusted Shelves, which is available on Amazon in paperback and c.d. Written in 2013, it is a representation of a life by which I was conditioned to believe that I was crazy.
Some abuse survivor work is considered to be dark and oddly psychotic. This piece would fall under that theme.
**Trigger Warning for those who are sensitive to these themes**