My parents have always cared more about me than anything in the whole world, which is why they brought me to Conifer Park for a ten day stay just after I turned 16 years old and had experimented with marijuana. I'm not even sure the drug test Conifer Park required for entering the voluntary program turned up positive, and I'd never taken any other drugs.
Shortly into my stay, I was in a smoking lounge in the Intensive Care unit when two black men approached and befriended me. I grew up in a very small, rural town in Vermont, with little to no ethnic diversity. I would consider myself very much a free-spirited hippy who wanted to trust and love everyone. Unfortunately, it was here at Conifer Park when I learned my first lesson about trusting people, because these two men proceeded to ruin my life over the next several days.
I was molested by one man multiple times, while often the other would stand at the glass door watching for staff and others. Many nights I'd hide in my bathroom because this man (molester) would haunt the doorway of my bedroom, requesting such things as for me to write him letters he could "go to bed with." I was horrified to say the least, paralyzed with fear, completely lost and afraid. I finally confided in my older roommate, who eventually convinced me that I must inform staff about what was happening.
I was a naive adolescent, a virgin to these kinds of disgusting, violating, and ugly matters. I was witnessing things during these ten days that I'd never seen in my life, or probably even known about: people coming off cocaine, searching the fibers of the carpets on their hands and knees; addicts coming off heroin, holding their livers in a fetal position in bed; and people talking about trying to get on the methadone program, something I knew nothing about.
When I finally told staff, my roommate sat with me in support while I disclosed each horrendous experience of being touched, fondled, controlled, and abused. The staff called my mother to inform her of what happened, and apparently confronted my abuser, informing me at a later time that he had confessed to everything because "he was so in love with me." I was told by staff that he had gone to jail, and nothing was ever spoken about him or the molestation again. I now realize that breaking the silence only meant more liability to Conifer Park. Had I been an adult and more versed in the law and victims' rights, I would have taken it upon myself to bring this matter to justice.
Please protect your children!! Sometimes when you think you're doing something good for them and doing your best to meet their needs, you may actually be subjecting them to danger, and the consequences can live on for the rest of their lives. Conifer Park ended up being one of the worst experiences of my life.