So I went to Sunrise for nearly 11 months. It was the worst year of my life. I've been graduated for 6 months now but I still have flashbacks every single day.
The horror of all that I experienced at Sunrise was lodged deep in my mind (as a trauma response) and since I've been home I've had time to reflect and process those painful memories.
About two months before I graduated I had a burning in which I threw a bunch of things into a fire. I threw my diary and my calorie book, various images, and certain clothing items.
I do regret throwing my journal in the fire because it had hundreds recollections. I wrote about the abuse I received at Sunrise. I filled the whole thing - and it was a fat notebook. Most of the entries were quite triggering, they were things I didn't want to remember. But now I do because I am resolved to one day sue that place and shut it down. I want justice for my friends, myself, and all of the other survivors. I would have used that journal as evidence had I had the foresight to realize its value.
Anyways, I did keep my binder from Sunrise with all of my level work (things I needed to do to graduate.) I wanted to burn it but that binder was like Sunrise's holy bible. It was like the book of Mormon psychology edition. I didn't want to do anything to provoke them so I kept it.
I remember going home and jumping on it. Pounding it against the wall. I was beating the shit out of this thing. I had so much fury and anger pent up inside me. I was going to drown it but I ended up just shoving it in a storage bin in my room.
I plan on using it as evidence when I go to court one day. It outlines many of the ways in which Sunrise held us hostage, forced us to be submissive through rigid, patronizing dress codes, rules, and punishments.
But there is one line that always struck me as wrong. In order to get through the program, one of the first things you need to do is show that you are "willing to admit she needs to be at Sunrise" and "willing to begin looking for her responsibility in her treatment."
They made me write and read out a letter to my parents, apologizing for everything I did. It made me look at them dead in the eye (I have Autism so eye contact is difficult) and say "I'm sorry for ruining your life."
It made me beg for forgiveness and recognize that everything is my fault. My numerous attempts at suicide, the self-harm, the eating disorder. Everything was my fault and I should live in shame. Incriminating me. My existence was a crime - I was a problem. And until I could admit that they would make my life as miserable as possible.
I cried myself to sleep every night. I desperately wanted my parents to come to take me away.
I craved a connection with my mom, the same person who I had gotten in fistfights with every day. The same woman who had me kneeling on the ground with my head submerged the toilet, almost drowning me. We had such an abusive relationship yet all I wanted was to be back at home. I felt so helpless like an infant and wanted her to hold me and tell me everything will be ok. I love you. But the harsh reality was that that never happened.
I had to do whatever Sunrise wanted. I had to tell so many lies that I could no longer believe in the truth.
Fed my parent's propaganda while feeding me an unhealthy - carbohydrate filled diet with no other nutritional value. I remember crying on the phone with my parents because I was so hungry. I was begging them to help me get more food. At the end of my stay, I had lost so much weight that Sunrise could no longer hide the evidence.
So they put me on seconds for everything and boost. Boost is disgusting and it was unnecessary. It's meant for anorexic and people who won't willingly take food. In my case, it was there to make up for the calorie deficit I had because of Sunrise had not been providing me adequate portions. Any time we had a treat - like ice cream or some sort of sugary snack, I would practically wave my seconds in the mentor's faces. It was my way of saying "I win, you lose." I tried to wear all black on my last day but I didn't get away with that. Who the hell would risk being restrained the day before graduation? Not me, that's for certain.
I don't deny the fact that when I first came to sunrise, I needed help. I needed real help. But I do dispute that I "needed to be at Sunrise." I could have gone somewhere else. My parents said, "we had no choice, you were going to die." But I believe there is always a choice. I needed help - and Sunrise, despite all of their propaganda - was not help.
- A traffic accident caused by making ordinary employees handle big cars caused the death of two students - Source
- Jason Scott Calder - arrested for sexual abuse - worked for the parent company which owns Sunrise RTC. Due to the media blackout concerning this case it is unclear whether he worked at Sunrise beside working at other facilities owned by the same parent company - Source