Friday, May 30, 2008

Susan's Story...

This post is a duplicate and also appears HERE.
My name is Susan Grotte. I am writing to state officially that I was abused at Hephzibah House from February, 1981, to July, 1983. 

I realize that this is far in the past, and nothing can be done. However it has come to my attention that girls are suffering under the same cruel conditions right now.

The state of Indiana investigated while I was a student at Hephzibah House, but we were hidden in a dark church while they came through. A few girls who were coached and intimidated were allowed to stay and speak to the investigators.

I was beaten with a paddle until I was black and blue. My skirt was pulled up, and I was laid out on the flour. One adult sat on my back and tightly held my arms, while another sat on my feet to keep me from kicking. A third wielded a paddle and beat me. I was beaten nearly every day for the first three to four months when I was there. After that time, I was sufficiently broken and docile, thus only receiving two to three per month. These beating were so severe that they left blisters, hurt my back and twice I fainted. I still smell that carpet and feel it against my face.

I was so hungry all the time. The Williams ate very well, while they denied the girls sufficient, healthy food especially considering the energy we expended. I lost nearly 40 lbs in four months-- dropping from a normal 128 pounds to a mere 88. This in spite of the fact that we were not allowed to turn down any food offered.

I was menstruating normally before arriving at Hephzibah House, but ceased until I left in 1983.

I did heavy, back breaking labor. There was emotional abuse in the form of humiliation and isolation. Hephzibah House denied any form of contact with the outside world including media and notice of my grandmother’s death, as well as censoring letters from my parents. The rare phone calls from home were tightly monitored. Communication with other students was supervised and very limited.

The saddest part is that the Hephzibah House staff managed to convince me that they loved me. They taught us that we would go to hell if we ever would betray them, or "rise up against God's man."

Williams recently contacted me. I was shaking when I heard his voice. He asked me to write a letter to his lawyer stating that I was never abused, nor had witnessed any abuse while I was a resident. He was asking me to lie for him. I step forward now to defend these poor girls who cannot defend themselves.

Hundreds of girls have suffered because I did not have the courage to speak up then. This clear violation of normal human rights should not still be happening, 25 years later, in America.

It is important to point out that I had never shown any aggressive or violent behavior, had never experimented with drugs or alcohol, never been with a boy. My crime was never disclosed to me. I never had a trial, I never had a voice. I was 15.

In Christ alone,
--Susan Grotte


  1. Stand strong Clay. We are all with you. Let us know if we can help. These new articles are very disturbing. Rod and Susan

  2. Thank you for taking a stand and getting your story out. I'm having one of those days when everything HH is on my mind and really getting to me. It's good to have somewhere online we can go on days like this where people understand. Thanks again~ Natasha(former student)

  3. How did you get these pictures and when were they taken? Thanks~ Natasha

  4. The pictures were some of the few I was allowed to take while at hephzibah. They took my camera away pretty quick when Amy ran. The black and whites are from the Hephzibah happenings Susan

  5. Hello Everyone-make sure you check out our latest member, Connie's story. We all know how difficult it is to write and post those. God bless you Connie for your courage.

  6. Our story is LEAPING through cyberspace!!! God is with us as we stand for those who cannot stand for themselves.
    Remember Matt. 25:34-46

  7. I stumbled on the Hepzibah House story when I was doing a lot of research on the Magdalene laundries. I'm shocked that they can get away with this in the U.S. (In California, though, I don't think it would ever fly. I am sorry for you all. I really believe places like Hepzibah house are taking God's name in vain. Susan, I'm so glad you have a happy life now!!! The one piece missing from your story that I see in all the other girls' stories is why you got sent to HH in the first place. I'd like to know that part of the story, although if it is too painful/triggering & you would rather not, I understand. I also have seen some commenters on this blog that are attacking some of the victims. It's your blog, your choice, but I highly recommend monitoring comments. Luv, Rebekah

    1. I hope somebody someday makes a movie about this place!!!! That would help raise national awareness!!

  8. There don't necessarily have to be any "homes for out of control children" permitted in California, because there are plenty of programs, schools, and homes with brochures that claim they can help in other states that are more than happy to take parents' and relatives' money before telling them that their child will not be able to have any contact with them until they have reached a point in the breaking down process (of course it's said that the child will have begun the work of re-building into a respectful, conscientious, schoolwork-focused individual but only then can they speak to family and never anyone else). Many of these 'schools' are not religious-based like HH, instead they claim to be qualified mental health/behavioral specialists trained to help even the most troubled youth, and the truth is that they will help make up a reason if needed so that they receive that exorbitant amount of money for each kid that enters the program, and it can get to add up to quite a bit if the individual is say...14 when they begin, because they are not allowed to leave (in many programs) until they are 18. They are neither qualified, nor trained, sometimes the most 'qualified' they have is someone in recovery that initially were volunteering as part of a 12-step sober living partnership to help people develop job-applicable skills. It is ridiculous just how much people who run places like HH, similar religious-based operations, and their treatment-facility counterparts in this country have and continue to be able to get away with - they ALL need to be shut down and REAL help given to the victims who were unfortunate to be sent to one of them.

  9. I am so sorry to hear this.
    I would like to make a story about this in Dutch
    I would like to hear if you are good with it
    I would love to hear a reaction