Hephzibah House Journal

Hephzibah House Journal
Susan Grotte's journal from her experience as a student at Hephzibah House, told in short-story form.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Susan Grotte: Survivor!

 This post is a duplicate and also appears HERE.

My name is Susan Grotte and I am writing to officially state 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 floor. One adult sat on my back and tightly held my arms, while another sat on my legs. A third beat me. I was beaten nearly every day for the first three to four months I was there. After that, I was sufficiently broken and docile, only receiving two to three per month. These beatings 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 we were denied 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 any media and even 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