Hephzibah House Journal

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

Friday, January 25, 2019

Sarah Perkins

Hephzibah House was a dark time in my life. I was there for 2 months shy of 4 years. My stay was comprised of sentences, with a few times of "grace." For years after I left, I refused to give much time or thought to my stay there. Bringing it up now, a decade later, leaves me shaking and feeling betrayed. 
I do not like talking about it, because for those who do not know, it is hard to convey in precise terms what life was like. But I have talked about it because I feel the need to stand up for myself, & for the Girls still living under it. 
No one deserves conditions or treatments like those imposed on them. Criminals had more rights than we did as children.

Background on me:
I was adopted at the age of 5 1/2, with my little brother, Ben. He was 3. Out of the same family, into the same family. Our older Sister was taken & adopted by a different family. My baby brother & I were close as children. Inseparable. My parents felt that our closeness was a problem because Ben would listen to me over my parents, wouldn't speak to anyone except me for the longest time, etc. 
My Parents felt the best way to fix this was to keep us separated. As much as possible. We would get in trouble for being in the same room together without an adult present. We were not allowed to play outside alone together. We could not talk to each other unless an adult (as in our parents) could hear the conversation. 
When I was 8, my Mother was tried by the court and convicted of child abuse and neglect. Her state license for fostering children was taken. I do not know why my brother and I were left in the home. Maybe because we had both been wards of the State before adoption... maybe because my Father was not found guilty. Idk. What I do know is that she blamed me. She said I could not stand to share the spotlight with other children, so I had to take that from her too. 
Our relationship worsened. When I was 8, she told me she'd tried everything she'd known to bond with me. She said she was at her wit's end. There was nothing more she could do. 
This was after she'd taken me to Saturday sessions with our therapist. I was told to lay down on the end of the Persian rug that was sprawled out on the floor. They rolled me in it. The therapist instructed my Mother to lay down on top of me, wrapped inside the rug. We stayed that way for 3 hours. A timer was kept. 30 min break. The process was repeated. We did this for months.  
They said it was supposed to aid bonding. Simulate a birthing canal. 
I don't think it did. 
When I was 9, Ben was diagnosed with Asperger's. To enforce the separation, my parents rotated sending me off to government-run respite homes, & family-run ones, on weekends. When I was 10, they tried to have me institutionalized at a Christian mental health facility. When that fell through, they allowed me to continue living at home, & settled for sending me away on weekends. (From Friday night, when I got home from school to Sunday afternoon. I was allowed to come home on Sunday night.) When I was 11, they sent me away for the summer to an independent lockdown Christian facility. What started as a way for my parents to become closer to my brother, turned into me being sent away because "I wouldn't listen to my Mother."
From Day One, we didn't agree. She had no issues separating my Brother and I. I felt it was unfair & wrong. Attempting to go around that rule made my life unbearable. My Mother put an alarm on my door, bolted my window shut, (where it opened 3 inches), and left a baby monitor in my room turned on, in case I tried to talk to talk to my brother through the heating vent in the floor, or use the wall tap language we'd created. There was to be NO communication between my brother and me, whatsoever.  
It culminated, into the morning before school, when my parents sat me down and told me I needed to choose between going to a juvenile detention facility or a boarding school. I chose boarding school. They did not want me in the home any longer. That is what she said. My Dad sat there, he didn't agree. He didn't say anything. He wouldn't meet my eyes.  
I was in 7th grade then. I was 12.
I went to Hephzibah House at 12 & was left there until I was 16.
My parents told me when they decided on HH. They'd debated between 3 different schools, and narrowed it down to the one in Indiana. I was allowed to read through the criteria and the paperwork. My Pastor did not approve of them opening and reading my mail, and he made that clear to everyone involved. 
Pastor Theaker was a Chaplain, in Vietnam. He felt that censoring our mail was a violation of our basic human rights and our rights as Americans. He told Hephzibah House that, in as many words. 
Hephzibah House required our parents to address all letters to Hephzibah house, itself. So opening our mail became legal. My brother gave out the boarding school's address to some of my friends, who addressed their letters to me. It didn't matter. HH still opened, read, initialed those letters, then returned them to my parents. No one let me know I had received them. 1 friend wrote me 2 years with no response. I didn't know until I got home. My parents saved & kept all mail I'd sent them, all returned mail, and the
Hephzibah Happenings sent home each quarter & put them in a tote for me.
Girls who are accepted into Hephzibah, have been vetted. They do not accept Girls who are violent, have violent tendencies, or have a history of violence. Violence includes throwing things. Their paperwork is specific when it states, if a girl becomes violent in their care, she will be removed & her parents will return to get her.
Their doctrine teaches that a woman must be submissive in all aspects of her life. She must do so with a smile. She cannot hold a position of leadership over a man, in work or personal life. They recommend against a woman holding a job outside the home period, but they teach that she is NOT Allowed to hold one in the fire department, law enforcement, or military. 
To hold a job outside the home, a Daughter must first have her Father's approval, (regardless of age, whether adult or no), and a married woman must have her Husband's approval. There is no life in between being a Daughter, & a wife. As a woman, you do not move out of your home until you are married. Your Parents approve your Husband. Once married, your Husband controls your life. Women are admonished not to attend Bible College because education will result in a stumbling block to her. A woman with a degree will be proud, & will argue with her husband. It will lead her to vanity. Attending a secular school, (which is not of God) does not happen. Whether male OR female. There are no children outside of marriage. There is no divorce. Once divorced... (gasp). There is no remarriage. If remarriage occurs, the new couple will spend their life together living in sin. They teach a child's will needs to be broken & molded into a happy and sin free (as possible) human being. Therefore a rod should be used on that child, starting when he/she reaches 1 month old & ending when they are grown and out of their parent's house,...(Married) Women who wear pants are going to hell. Christian women must be submissive & wear modest clothing. If a woman isn't trying to be modest, ("one of the fruits of the spirit that results from being saved") then she's most likly not saved at all. The single type of modesty accepted. Theirs. Shocker.
HH questions the salvation of Christians outside "the remnant." (the remnant= IFB churches HH supports & HH) (IFB= Independent Fundamental Baptist) "Those Christians don't do this, & don't do that... at best they're backslidden believers, at worst they're not saved." 
If I don't hear some semblance of that phrase for the rest of my life, it will still be too short.
Arranged marriages were preached from the pulpit, & encouraged. A woman's hymen, if damaged by sexual intercourse, consensual or not, was not fated (by her own actions) for God's Best. Not His 1st Best, His 2nd Best, or His 3rd. That woman could have God's 10th Best. They specified His 10th Best. That is why they stuck a speculum up me. To see if I was a virgin. To see if I was worth "saving," & then marry me off into the remnant to an unmarried Pastor, Missionary, or Pastor's Son. God's 1st Best. True. Christian. Leadership. Instead, I grew up & chose to be marry someone like me. A Marine. 
They take these teachings literally and preach them from the pulpit. They print tracts, bulletins, and booklets containing this doctrine. Guess who collates the things they print? That's right. HH Girls. For Free. While our Parents pay them for us to stay in their care & go to "school."     
My parents drove me to Hephzibah. Mrs. R, and Miss Naomi were the ones who sat with my Mother & I upstairs. What they did was called an intake. After it was over, Miss Naomi led me down the stairs, and handed me off to Mrs. Kagin. Mrs. Kagin was waiting for me beside the open basement door. I walked through, Miss Naomi didn't. She shut and locked the door behind my back. 
I looked at Mrs. Kagin, she was in standing in a small hallway, & carrying a basket of stuff I'd never seen. There were no girls I could see. She motioned to the basket & said "These are your things. I'll need your help labeling them when you get out of the shower." I looked at her and said, "Where are the other Girls?" She said "In School. You'll meet them later." I let her know, "I took a shower this morning." She responded with, "All girls take a shower when they come here, to get the worldliness they bring with them off, such as makeup." I told her "I don't wear makeup." And she replied, "It doesn't matter. You have to take a shower."
So I did. 
She was upset that my shower lasted longer than 3 minutes. I didn't think it was a problem.
All showers I took after that were 3 minutes long. It was a rule. No one was exempt. The time exception to this was after we gardened poison ivy for them. 
Each summer we would pull poison ivy out of the gardens nearest to the road on their estate. I'm sure they could've done it, but they didn't. We did.
Normal shower times went thus, 1 min to get undressed, 3 min in the shower, 2 min to get redressed. 
Poison ivy shower times: 1 min to get undressed, 2 min in the shower (cold water) with a big chunk of lye soap, 3 min in the shower (hot water), 2 min to get redressed. 
The lye soap had to be used by each of the Girls who used that shower stall. We did not have individual bars of lye soap.
There were 3 bathroom stalls. We were allowed to take our bath baskets in the shower stall with us, as long as we cleaned them out and showed them to the staff each time we went to put them away. We were not allowed to take our electric razor in the stall with us. Saturday was the day in the week we were allowed to shave. Those who did not have electric razors had to use the weird round ones and shave by hand. 
Shaving was an ordeal before shower time on Saturday. You had to ask permission to shave. If granted, you asked permission for a place to sit in between the bunks to shave. If the places on either side of your bed were unavailable, the staff would pick you a spot. Once they did, you laid your towel down in that spot. You asked a staff permission to watch you go to your wardrobe, or to Closet A or B to get your flip flops. Once completed, if you did not have an electric razor, you asked staff to watch you so you could pour yourself a tiny bucket of water out of a five gallon pail.   
Our razors were taken out of Closet C by Miss Theresa. She was the Staff who signed them out to us. If you did not have flip flops on your feet, & a bucket of water laid out by your towel, Miss Theresa would not sign out your razor to you. 
The Staff watched over our shoulders while we shaved to make sure we followed the rules and stayed modest. Shaving above the knee was Not Allowed. Ever. 
Razors in the shower was not allowed. Once you were done shaving you had to dump, bleach out, and dry your bucket. Once the staff checked it, you could put it in the stack. The staff had to watch you dump, bleach, and dry out your bucket. Last person to finish shaving with a bucket had to take care of the whole stack of buckets. Last person to finish showering in each stall had to clean the stall.
Showering was done After all work duties in the house was completed, and before dinner. No one wanted to be last. 
If you were too slow, demerits. If you were too fast, demerits. If you were neither, but messed something up, demerits. If you talked out of turn. Demerits. Made eye contact with a girl you were not allowed to talk to, demerits. Made eye contact with someone, when on sentences, or made eye contact with someone when they were on sentences, Demerits. Did not say "Yes Ma'am" or "No Ma'am" after asked a question or given a direct order, demerits. Had the wrong attitude or demeaner when responding. Demerits. Didn't respond in the appropriate time, demerits. Had to ask a staff more than 2 times to check your floor, demerits. Forgot to ask permission to leave a room. Demerits. 
Extra bathroom break, 15 demerits.
Did not eat your food in the time allotted, demerits. Failed weekly or monthly Scripture, Sentences.
Demerits were given on a regular basis during the day. Having enough demerits, at the end of a week, resulted in sentences. Sentences were Bible verses that were written out, corrected by staff, fixed until they were perfect, & then Ok'd. 
16 demerits- 100 Sentences
17 demerits- 200 Sentences
18 demerits- 300 Sentences
19 demerits- 400 Sentences
20 or more demerits- 500 Sentences  

Sentences: No communication for the duration of that week. If you took longer than the week to write your sentences, you did not speak for the duration of that time. You are not allowed to speak until the staff approves them. It takes them a couple days sometimes. 
-No tea or honey on Sundays. (Which is THE 1 day that week HH Girls can have it)
-No Books besides the Bible or book report books on Sundays
-No looking at, making eye contact with, handing something to, or speaking with students on your talking list
-No speaking to staff except to ask "Miss Mary, will you please pass the salt?" or "Miss Sarah, will you please check my floor?" 
-Required to wear your school uniform to Church so the flock (Church Congregation)knows you are in rebellion to the Lord.
-If there is a snack or treat after dinner, you will not get it. Sometimes, they force the girls who don't have sentences to eat their snack/treat in front of the girls who do, as punishment. 
-Evening school is spent writing sentences. An evening around the fire crocheting is spent writing sentences. Friday night activities are spent writing sentences. Time spent on an action other than work is now spent writing sentences.
Violations of these rules or the other rules in the rule book constitute more demerits. Communicating (ie. looking at, handing something to, speaking, looking in the mirror at the same time, etc) with a Girl not on your talking list. Sentences. 
Being on sentences, & communicating with ANYONE. Sentences. 
As in, Sentences for the NEXT Week.
If Mrs. Halyaman/Mrs. R felt sentences weren't disciplining a girl enough, or they felt she was in rebellion, they'd pull her out of school, after individual morning devotions, and she'd do the entire house's work duties. Spend the whole day on her hands & knees, cleaning. 
If she did not complete the work duties before dinner, she would not eat. They'd feed her ensure. Ask me how I know. 
If a girl was sick, & "had to stay in bed." She could eat 3 meals of ensure or she could go hungry. As they said, "Those who Do Not Work. Do Not Eat." 

After about two weeks there, I was given a physical. This was the one time I saw a "doctor" at Hephzibah House. Miss Theresa told me he was a doctor. He did not. She said I was going to get an exam. He did not. He did not say hi. He did not tell me his name. He did not wash his hands. What he did do was give me a full pap smear. I waited in a line-up of 3 Girls, chairs sitting in the dorm. I was the last to go. The Girls before me went into Closet C, one after the other. The Girl right before me was in there for a while. She screamed the whole time. They made me turn around in my seat so I couldn't see Closet C's door anymore. When it was my turn, Miss Theresa & Mrs. Drazich were waiting for me inside. They had me get up on this brown awkward looking bed thing with a strip of plastic covering the leather, & stirrups. He came in. He didn't talk to me. Miss Theresa said "Do I have to hold your hand too?!" Sarcastic & condescending-like. Mrs. Drazich took my blood. He pulled my nightgown up & checked my boobs. (I didn't have boobs yet) Mrs. Drazich told me to put my feet in the stirrups. I did. He put his hand on my knee, told me to "Hold Still" then moved his hand away. All I felt was pain. He pushed the speculum all the way up my vagina. I was a virgin. It hurt so bad. It took FOREVER & it was freezing. I was 12. When I asked him to stop, "Please. Stop. It hurts." He responded with, "Hold still. I'm almost done." I bled for weeks afterwards. My menstrual cycle didn't start until I was 14.  

For those who don't know, Closet C is a storage Closet located in the basement of Hephzibah. (Where we lived.) It has 2 phones, old-fashioned circle dial phones. We were allowed 1 monitored 15 min phone call with our parents each month. On our birthday month, it was 20 min. Mrs. Halyaman would call our parents 3 times. If they didn't answer our phone for that month would be bypassed. Incoming Mail, outgoing mail. Monitored. Sometimes, letter my parents sent me had whole portions black-markered out. 

Meals were gross ordeals. The fed us "salad" crawling with bugs. The soup had little to no meat in it. It tasted off sometimes. There's millet gruel in the morning. The salmon sandwiches were freezer burnt. They didn't want to throw them away, but refused to eat them themselves. There is little meat in our diet besides soup & special occasions. There is no menu choices or options. You Do Not get to choose, & you don't know what's being served for dinner until it's served. If you do not eat what is served, you do not eat. They'll save it for you for the next meal. You get demerits each time you refuse, & it's re-served Cold. On top of sentences. And possible extra work duties. 

Meal-time portions were nightmare inducing. From 1/4 portions which could feed a toddler. To 1/2 portions which left you hungry in 2 hours. To full portions, which grown men struggle to eat. Pastor & Mrs. Halyaman ate with us Sunday nights after Church sometimes, neither could eat full portions. He tried once. 
Full portions are half portions doubled. Go figure. 
Pick your poison. Either outright over eat or starve... or overeat & (once the vegetables cycled through your system) starve. 
That's why snack/treat time was so detrimental. I remember I was so hungry it would keep me awake at night.   
Our morning began when the staff turned off the fans & said a prayer. 
"Good morning Girls, it's time to pray."
We had 15 min to make our bed, get dressed, brush our teeth, and do our hair. 
We had to ask the Staff permission to check our bed, watch us while we went to our wardrobe/closet, ask permission to go to the bathroom, ask permission to open the bath basket cupboard to get our toothpaste, once we got in the bathroom. Ask permission to use the sink and the mirror. Ask permission to open the bath basket cupboard again to put our toothbrush/toothpaste back, and get our deodorant out. Ask permission to use a shower stall to change in. Ask permission to open the bath basket cupboard to put the deodorant back. We were assigned bathroom toilet stalls we could use... A, B, or C. If the one assigned to us was not available, we were not allowed to use the others even if they were open. We could not look in the mirror, or be in the bath basket cupboard with a Girl we were not allowed to talk to. 
We were not allowed to wait in the bathroom if a changing stall or toilet was not available to use. We would be told we needed to leave the bathroom, and come back in a few minutes. Even though, you are told you need to leave, you must still ask permission. All girls try to go in the bathroom at once. You must not brush against, make eye contact, or acknowledge another Girl's presence, or you will get demerits. 
The BM & menstrual charts were hung up on Closet B. Visible to those who lived there, ministry personnel who came downstairs, and visitors.  
The Girls who were forced to wear diapers, because they "wet themselves" had to get up before the fans were turned off, strip their beds (when they weren't wet), bleach the mattress off, and hang their bedding outside, (snow or shine). I mean that literal. 
When they did wet the bed, they were made to hand wash their bedding with a ginormous tub they had to fill with 5 gallon buckets. 1 cycle of washing. (Dump & change water). 2 cycles rinse. (Each had to be dumped & changed out) Then hang out the bedding on the clothesline. Regardless of whether it was warm outside, moderate, or below freezing. 
Girls who bled a lot on their periods had to wear diapers at night for the week duration of their cycle. The Staff did not want to get up for extra bathroom trips for those Girls, me included, to change their pads, and they did not want to be made to watch us hand wash our stuff each time we bled through. If we bled through we were required to hand wash our bedding. 
I never saw the point in hanging clothes out on the line in winter. It all froze. It didn't dry. The Staff said it would conserve the energy we used. 
I think it just froze our fingers and our clothes. We ended up having to go back outside at the end of each day, take it all down, and throw it in the dryer. So I don't understand the point. 
We hung work duty wash rags and dry towels on the line too. Plus kitchen rags/ dry towels. To this day, I do not see the point of doing it in winter.  
We did work duties after breakfast, before school, and after school- before shower time & dinner. Dishes were done at breakfast & dinner. Dish crew had 15 min to be done in the morning (or demerits). And 30 min at dinner (or demerits).  
Lunch dishes were added to the amount being washed from dinner. As well as dinner dishes, sent down from upstairs to clean. 
Head coverings were seen as being submissive to God and authority. We were admonished to wear them.
School was supposed to be all year long. Each day except Sunday. The ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) course work was/is not accredited except in a few Bible Colleges.
They pulled us out for work duties, & extra work projects, whenever they felt we needed discipline, or they wanted help with something. We unloaded the food bank trucks, wood chipped their gardens, (with flat bed trucks full of wood chips & five gallon pails) weeded and picked those gardens, cleaned the church, cleaned school street, raked their leaves, cleaned the outside cooler and freezer, harvested walnuts, collated their scripture, collated the Hephzibah Happenings. They owned a Scripture barn, where they printed thousands of scripture portions, tracts, booklets, pamphlets, Hephzibah Happenings, doctrinal literature, & Bibles. We collated those by hand. In one summer we did 45,000 scripture portions alone. A different year, we did 100,000 scripture portions. It filled an entire semi shipping container. They sent it to the Middle East, to "help save lost souls." 
Each quarter, (3 times a year) we collated the Hephzibah Happenings that were mailed out to our Parents, Pastors, supporting Churches, & Christians within those Churches. Thousands of them, each time.  

They had beehives they kept right outside the gate (locked from the outside) that led into our backyard. The fence was 13-15 ft high. We carried and cleaned five gallons of honey. We picked the food, washed the food, chopped the food, stored the food, then once or more a month cleaned out the cooler & cooler room where the food was stored. We cleaned and oiled the Kagin's house. We cleaned the ministry's vehicles. They drove them into the fenced-in backyard, & pulled us out of school to clean them.  
We cleaned Pastor & Mrs. Halyaman's house. Raked their leaves. The mail that came to Hephzibah House had stamps, so we spent a couple hundred evenings a year, when we could have been in "evening school," cutting boxes & boxes of stamps that they sold to collectors for money. We cracked apart dried walnuts, (that we'd harvested) and spent evenings pulling the meat out of them with picks. Took us weeks to do them all. Miss Naomi threw them in the freezer, & we got to eat a miniscule portion of them once on a holiday. The rest they ate. We harvested walnuts each year I was there. 
Stamps & walnuts meant that sentences would not be written that night. We'd get to listen to a story tape. (Most Christian)  Judah Ben Hur. The Hiding Place. (by Corrie Ten Boom) The Lone Ranger. Or a preaching tape. Taped sermons preached by a Pastor in the HH congregation or Pastors in congregations they approved. We also listened to an hour's worth of preaching each night before bed. Preaching, Christian, Christiana, Stories of what a child would have been if it hadn't been aborted, Tilly, literal readings of the Scripture... book by Book. Etc. They wouldn't turn the fans on until the audio tape was over. I can't fall asleep when someone is talking. So there went at least 1 hour of my sleep a night.

We had individual devotions each morning, & group devotions each night. They told us we were whores, strange women, women with devious machinations in our hearts & minds during group devotions. "Get your heart/mind right with the Lord," was one of their favorite sayings. I mean "their" as a collective. They all say it.    

Hephzibah House did not believe in medication. I had ADHD as a child. I have it now as an adult. I took ADHD medication & I took Melatonin to go to sleep. Neither were allowed there. I was taken off my medication before going to Hephzibah House. No Girls were allowed medication, including Girls with light spectrum Autism. They did not believe those things were real. They taught that if God gave you a disease, you were meant to have it, therefore medication's not necessary. If you have a disease & you do not wish to have it. Pray. If God does not take it from you, you're meant to have it. "It's your burden to bear."

Ironic that they don't believe in medication, but they do believe in vitamins. 
We had the option to take these horse pill garlic & green tea vitamins each morning & night. 
We did not have the option to refuse the horse pill-sized Men's One A Day vitamin we had to take each morning. (Which side note: does NOT contain the amount of iron a menstruating female needs.)  

When you get to HH, they give you a diagnostic test. They don't feel that (secular) Public Schools have valid teaching, so they discredit it. They do not test you on your level. What I mean is this. When I got there, they did not give me the 7th grade's portion of the diagnostic test, take where I placed on it, & start me from there. Which is what an accredited school would have done.
No. No. No. No. 
They tested me on every grade I'd EVER learned.
 If I forgot something from 5th grade, or got it wrong they made me retake that Grade's PACEs involving that subject.
Some Girls place in 3rd GRADE at 15 YEARS OLD. 
DID I MENTION... This school is NOT ACCREDITED or accepted BUT for a FEW Bible Colleges???? Let me say it Louder for the People in the Back. 
Ironic. Because. Get this.
They would not allow lower level staff to grade our PACE's. 
Miss Mary- graduated High School in a Public School. 
Miss Avery- High School in a Public School.
Miss Sarah- graduated ACE
Miss Theresa- Had been a Catholic (gasp), graduated High School in a Public school, was divorced, & had been in the military.
Miss Leah- graduated ACE
Miss Theresa was the Head Staff. Miss Theresa & Miss Sarah (sometimes) were the Ones downstairs QUALIFIED to grade our PACE's. That's what they said. In real life terms, they were the ones ALLOWED to grade them. A "privilege" they did not use much. 
Lol. No one else downstairs was QUALIFIED to grade non-accredited schoolwork. 
Go figure. 
Each PACE had a corresponding Answer Key PACE that correct answers could be read off of. The answer keys were locked in rolling drawer cabinets in the New Addition.
During school, we sat in cordoned off cubicles. 3 personal (arms length in front) white wood walls stared back at each girl. They made them so girls could not communicate with other Girls. 1 empty cubicle, then 1 with a Girl. 1 empty cubicle, then 1 with a Girl. You get the idea. It made me feel alone. 
Each subject had 10-12 PACES to pass into the next grade. So English had 12, Math had 12. And so on. 
Before you received a new PACE, they x'd to page 3 or 4. That was the farthest page you could finish before handing in that PACE. Each section allowed in each PACE was 3-4 pages. Get 1 thing wrong in that section & you would not go farther until it was right. You go father. Demerits. 
Ask a staff to help you. "I don't know." "I can't." "I'm not qualified." 
"Where's Miss Theresa or Miss Sarah?"... "Busy."
So you hand in all your PACES. They give you your Bible to study while you wait. 4-5 hours go by. Mrs. Halyaman comes down & grades PACES. You get them back with 10-15 min left of school. With the possibility of stuff being wrong. 
Then the school day's over. 
Girls get stuck on PACEs for MONTHS like that. ALL GIRLS. Some in 3rd grade. And then they're like, "That Girl over there refuses to do her school work." "Some Girls come here & do a years worth of work in a few months..." to make that Girl feel bad. Out loud. I mean, we ALL have ears, just because we couldn't see the other Girls doesn't mean we couldn't hear the trash talking garbage spewed to make them feel bad. Plus the intercom made it easier for Mrs. R, than a trip to the basement, to shame someone. 
Heaven Help You if they berate you & you stand up for yourself. It could be the meanest, nastiest things a human has said to you since you've existed. Don't do it. It's Not worth it. Just say, "Yes Ma'am," and go about your business.
School Note: In School, Classical Music CD's are playing 100% of the time because they didn't want us to daydream or think about things other than schoolwork. Terrible school environment. I HATE Classical Music. 
I think that's enough about Hephzibah House for now. HH is a dark, abusive, hopeless place where love & light do not shine. Balance doesn't exist in that house or that compound. 

I joined the military at 17. Army. I got married. I have a couple Girls. 
I'd walk into Hell before I'd send my Daughters to this "school." 


  1. Your story makes me tired and sad and frustrated. I can only take a little of this every day, but by God's grace that is what I intend to do. Thank you for the courage to share. Do you still walk with Jesus? The church is a huge organism, not limited to what you experienced in Indiana. Follow Jesus always.

  2. This makes me sick.
    My parents tried multiple times to send me to this place. I have met Ron Williams and seen his presentation of this "ministry". I didn't like him from the moment I saw him. I always KNEW something was wrong about this place. I moved across the country - literally, RAN AWAY from home as a 20 year old because I wasn't allowed to get a job, have a relationship, or move out - to avoid being sent to this place. I was pregnant out of wedlock, so obviously, I was going to hell.
    Fast forward. I found my path in life, lost my baby, dated a man my mom didn't like, and figured out where I stood in religion and such. I had to come to terms with the "Christianity" I had grown up in - abuse of every sort, shaming, sexual harassment, threats, manipulation, lies - and try to recover.
    I ended up volunteering to work in a girl's home in Mississippi. My calling in life is to help teens and young women who are in the abusive, horrible place I was in to find true worth and purpose in life. That's all I want to do. So, I went to visit this home and spent about 10 days there getting to know them and letting them get to know me. It is almost completely IDENTICAL to Hephzibah House!!!!!! It was so dark and freaky. They literally did all of these things - the classes, the punishments, the missed meals, the asking permission for everything, the assigned activities, the dictated mis-used forced "religion", the ACE program, the cubicle desks - everything. I left and never looked back!!
    Be aware: It's called Happiness Hills. It is the same as HH. I am not aware of any connection to HH, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is! These places should not exist.
    I am so sorry you had to go through this!

  3. Wow. This is sobering. Horrible. God bless you and your daughters, and I assume He blessed you with a good husband? I hope. How is your brother? Do you get to see him now? Did your older sister fare better?

  4. I am so sorry for all that were subjected to this place. As I read all posts I am so deeply disturbed. This place should be shut down. We need to protect our children and not throw them away in a living hell. May God bless you for having the courage to voice your experience. I sincerely hope a parent reconsiders sending their daughter there. Again, may God Bless YOU!

  5. My heart breaks for you and the sufferings you endured. What I do not understand is how Ron Williams is not in jail for assault and criminal abuse of children. How is it that he is free to continue his crimes?

    1. Bc the law in Indiana states that the Police, CPS, etc have no jurisdiction over them bc its the whole Church Vs State thing, as well as, just plain semantics & the way the law is “technically” written. So sad. God Bless all the women & young girls that went there, are God help the ones that are currently still there.