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Hope Christian Home And Academy, Duck Hill, MS

Hope Christian Home And Academy, Duck Hill, MS

Postby wiki researcher » Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:16 pm

We are fishing for some information about:

  • Hope Christian Home And Academy (Maybe located on 865 Sweatman Rd, Duck Hill, MS)
  • Jimmy & Donna Prather
  • Ministry of Tabernacle Baptist Church, McDonaugh, GA

We have been unable to locate website, contact information, Facebook groups etc. We do know that the managers worked for Happiness Hills in Union, MS before they started this prison camp for young girls.

Here is a statement given on HEAL-online's message board:

Hope Christian Home %26 Academy in Duck Hill, Mississippi
By A

I would like to report on Hope Home and Christian Academy. When I was 15 (I'm 23 now), I was sent to Hope Home and Christian Academy in Mississippi. Unlike a lot of the other girls there, I was only there for a year--April 2004-April 2005. One of the punishments there that I experienced and which most disturbed me was isolation. I once mentioned atheism to another girl there, she told a staff member, and they separated me from the rest of the girls in the home. I was not allowed to talk to or even look at the other girls for a month. I was in a room in the other end of the house, by myself and could only talk to staff members when they talked to me. This was called being on "group separation" and "silence". Though I never experienced it, I certainly heard the effects of what they called "licks", which were spankings. Other punishments included writing sentences, standing against the wall (from 30 minutes to hours at a time), being on silence, and being on separation from individual girls. Even though most girls are sent there after being sexually and emotionally abused at home or in various foster homes, there is absolutely no counselor in the house. Strict Christianity is forced on the girls. They must read the Bible in the morning, then go into the schooling room for Christian homeschooling, etc. They do not leave the house aside from going to church and VERY occasionally going to a gas station or Walmart. When I came back from the home, I felt as though I'd missed a whole years worth of events, because I had. I was yelled at for not holding Christian beliefs and was made to write 2,000 sentences when they caught me throwing up in the bathroom once. As someone with eating issues, I needed a counselor, not punishment. Communication with anyone outside of the home is heavily censored. Girls are allowed one phone call a month with their parents, but it takes place on speakerphone in front of the main staff members. Because of this, girls can't really be honest about how things are going unless they want the staff member to know it as well or possibly intervene if they say things they don't want them to say. I never said anything out of line, so I'm not sure what happens if someone does. Other than that once monthly phone call, no others can be made or received. All other communication must be done by way of sending letters. These letters are given to a staff member, who reads it to make sure the girl doesn't say anything she isn't supposed to or that they wouldn't approve of, and then they are sent out. When a girl receives a letter or an email, a staff member first goes through it to make sure it doesn't say anything they don't approve of. Once or twice, I received a letter in which small pieces had been cut out. I once snuck some chocolate candy from the counter and the biggest girl at the home was then blamed for it. Only later did I found out that she'd felt so pressured about it, she'd admitted to taking the candy. The same thing happened when I snuck some cookies once. We were well fed, but the food was locked up and I grabbed snacks when no one was looking every now and then. The only form of counsel is Brother P, the leader of the home. All counsel is Bible-based and is in no way professional. Sometimes, he became angry and yelled at the girls (myself included, especially when it came to stating beliefs). He commented alot on the fact that I ate a lot when I was home and, when I tried to restrict myself upon first coming there, he yelled at me about that. Once, a 9 year old girl at the home snuck a pair of scissors and cut off a little of her bangs while no one was looking. When she lied about doing it, Brother P took a pair of scissors and cut her long hair off up to her ears, making it look terrible as a punishment for lying. Today, that girl is 15, was recently abused by her adopted parents and is now in a foster home. I am sure that if this place is investigated, they will tell the girls to be on their best behavior and they will be, because those girls want to act well so that they can go home. I keep in touch with many girls who formerly were there with me, and they have very few positive things to say about the home. No one-on-one communication is ever allowed between two girls and conversation is closely monitored by everyone there. If anyone mentions a non-Christian song, etc. or anything about their past, one of the girls will approach a staff member and tell on them for what they've done. Every girl there (in my experience) was eager to go back home, so they sold out anyone and everyone for every little thing. I really feel that this place should be shut down. Girls basically feel like they're always in trouble when they're there, even though many of them need somewhere peaceful to get away from everything they've experienced previously. Instead, they're locked up in a house with 10-11 other girls, no privacy, and Christianity coming at them from every direction, including a requirement to wear long dresses at all times. I'm sure that no one at that home will sell the place out, but I am willing to tell the truth. I've heard of autistic girls going in and being punished for their behavior by having to stand against the wall for hours in the day instead of anyone acknowledging the autism. It isn't effective and it is VERY harmful. Something needs to be done and this is heavy on my heart, which is why I've decided to submit this. I give HEAL permission to use this statement. I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on August 15, 2011
Last edited by wiki researcher on Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hope Christian Home And Academy, Duck Hill, MS

Postby lemonworld88 » Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:03 pm

I am the person who wrote the post. What would you like to know?
Last edited by lemonworld88 on Wed Jul 11, 2012 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hope Christian Home And Academy, Duck Hill, MS

Postby TheHunter » Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:19 pm

I am a volunteer for the Danish chapter of the human rights organization called Domestic prisoners of conscience

We are aiding in the work to create a world wide directory of teenage programs where teenagers are held against their will and due to lack of supervision have the potential to endanger or abuse the teenagers entrusted in their care.

We are concerned about the teenagers kept at this farm and a datasheet has been made on the Fornits Wiki database (link).

But we only have very little information and we don't even know if the place still is up and running. Any information will do.
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Re: Hope Christian Home And Academy, Duck Hill, MS

Postby lemonworld88 » Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:36 am

Yes, they are still up and running. They've changed locations since I was there (from April '04- April '05), but they are still in Duck Hill. As listed on healonline.org, the Prathers run the place. The other staff members that were there when I was there have since left. I do not keep in contact with the facility, so I couldn't really tell you much else about what has gone on there recently.

Here are the punishments I know of that are used there:
1)Licks (corporal punishment)
2)Sentences (up to thousands of them)
3)Standing facing the wall for up to hours at a time
4)Standing in a private bedroom with arms held out and holding something for an extended period of time
5)Silence (not allowed to talk to anyone)
6)Separation (not allowed to talk to or look at a specific person)
7)Isolation (allowed to talk to and look at no one without permission, which you won't get unless it's a staff member)

There's plenty of food there....I recall things like pork, macaroni and cheese, fried catfish, tuna, Dinty Moore meals, etc. Girls must finish everything on their plates or be punished in some way.

They have no privacy there except for when they're in the shower and even that is a limited time. They are not allowed to be in a room alone with only one other girl. They definitely aren't allowed to talk in private with one other girl. Many conversation topics are banned, such as anything involving a girl's past (why they are at the facility, etc.), mention of any music other than the hymns and Southern gospel music played at the facility, mention of anything "worldly". They can't even say "gosh" there.

When I was there, we went to one long narrow room for homeschooling. We used ACE program. They gave me a test when I first got there to see which grade I needed to start at. I was angry that I was there, so I didn't really try. As a result, they started me in 5th grade math; I was 16 and in the middle of 10th grade when I went there. By the time I left, I was only in 9th grade material. It put me a year behind in school, so I graduated a year late.

Random thing that I remember from when I was there: a 9 year old girl got ahold of some scissors and cut off a little of her bangs with them. When Bro. Prather found out, she lied about it. As a result, he took the scissors and angrily chopped her hair off so that it was around her ears and looked terrible. He said that her parents approved. Recently, she was taken away from those same foster parents as a result of abuse.

Their last words to me before I left? "Be careful what music you listen to."

Most girls I know who came out of this home ended up getting pregnant or into drugs not soon after. Not all of them did, though. I didn't. It left me very socially awkward though and I still fight to overcome it. You're cut off from the rest of the world. Adults make you feel guilty about everything and you constantly feel as though you're in trouble. It's a terrible environment for anyone.

People have called Children's services on them before, but they always get off scott-free. I mean, what can be proven? Girls can't communicate with the outside world until they're out of there, since even their communication with their parents is censored.

They are currently located on Sweatman Road in Duck Hill.

Good luck with your directory.
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Re: Hope Christian Home And Academy, Duck Hill, MS

Postby lemonworld88 » Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:37 am

Oops, I just realized I repeated some of what I said in the first entry. Hope it helped, though.
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Re: Hope Christian Home And Academy, Duck Hill, MS

Postby lemonworld88 » Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:02 pm

Also, here is some info that I found from 2005. This is basically their description of what they do and why they do it.

http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/PALMERTREE/2005-05/1115242344

I'll go ahead and paste what all it says here:

From Today in Mississippi
May 2005



Hope for Troubled Girls

Jimmy and Donna Prather are giving troubled girls the opportunity to turn
their lives around and get their education back on track at Hope Christian
Home and Academy, near Duck Hill in Montgomery County, Mississippi.

Hope Christian is a faith-based Christian ministry. The Prathers
established it in 1994 to provide a structured home environment and
schooling for girls of all ages as they struggle to regain control of their
lives. The focus is on discipline, education, scripture and counseling.

Hope Christian receives no government aid. It is supported entirely by
donations and gifts from churches, businesses, organizations and individuals.

"We work with girls who have really serious behavioral problems, " said
Prather, and ordained Baptist preacher. "These are not your average
rebellious teenagers.

"Probably 90 percent of the girls we get are adopted, and the problems
mostly stem from the nine months before they came into this world," he added.

Many were born to alcoholics or drug addicts, and some have suffered sexual
or other physical abuse. Most have been in state facilities or psychiatric
units.

Prather describes them all as "tormented." "These are the kind of kids that
you have to work with 24/7," he said.

Most of the girls are sent to Hope Christian by loving adoptive parents who
believe the ministry can help save their daughter's life.

Six girls ranging in age from 9 to 17 are currently in residence at the
home, which can accommodate up to 12. The minimum stay, in most cases, is
one year. They stay until the Prathers and the parents feel they are ready
to return home. Some girls, mostly the younger ones, stay for several years.

The Prathers share a long history of involvement in youth ministries,
including a bus ministry in Atlanta, GA. He collected poor urban youth in a
bus and took them to church for services and other activities.

"I saw a lot of problems some of these kids had, and I think that was the
beginning of where we are now", Prather said.

"Girls, especially, always seemed to be drawn to us, and talked to us,"
Mrs. Prather added.

The couple frequently served as babysitters for foster children, but they
wanted to do more.

They eventually came to work at Happiness Hill Christian Home and Academy,
in Union County. There they were dismayed to see preteen girls, desperately
in need of the home's services, repeatedly turned away because of their
young age.

Most children's homes and ministries only accept teenage girls, Prather said.

"There's not a lot of younger girls out there who need help but there's
nowhere for them to go, with the problems they have," he explained.

He recalled the 10-year old girl who was picked up twice by Philadelphia
police and brought to the home. The girl, whose mother worked nights, was
sexually active with much older boys. But due to her age, nothing could be
done for her at Happiness Hill, so she was released back to the streets.

"That's what motivated us to start our ministry," Prather said.

The couple spent six months looking around Mississippi for an affordable
home for the new ministry. "We didn't have any money - we were
missionaries! And here we were, looking for a place to start," Prather
recalled with a laugh.

Finally they came upon a 1000-square-foot wood-frame home in rural
Montgomery County. The neglected one-and-a-half acre property was overgrown
with weeds and the house was deteriorating badly. It was perfect.

"We came up here for a year on weekends and renovated part of the house,
and got it ready to take girls," Prather said.

A neighboring landowner donated one acre to the couple's project and leased
them another to provide the girls a place to play ball and enjoy other
outdoor activities.

The home could house up to six girls when it opened. Through the years, as
word of the ministry spread and financial support grew, the couple added
more rooms. Most labor was provided by traveling mission groups from
churches across the region.

Army National Guardsmen at Camp McCain, in Grenada, adopted the school. (In
addition to various support projects throughout the year, the Guardsmen
host the girls at a Christmas party at the camp, complete with gifts.)

In a generous arrangement with Greenwood-based Viking Corporation, the
Prathers were able to purchase commercial-grade appliances for the kitchen
at reduced cost.

The home now includes a spacious dining area, living room classroom and
offices.

The decor is cheerful, the whole house clean and tidy - and homey.

Bunk beds in two large bedrooms provide sleeping space for up to 12 girls.
Each twin-size bed is covered with a colorful quilt pieced by and donated
to the home by area quilters.

Every effort is made to minimize homesickness. Parents may visit during
certain hours on weekends, but not during December or on specified holidays.

The girls must follow strict house rules governing their behavior, dress,
grooming, activities and daily schedule, including devotionals. They are
not allowed to talk about their troubled past with anyone other than the
Prathers, mostly during counseling sessions.

"You have to be real firm. Like my wife says, you give them an inch and
they'll be a ruler," Prather said with a laugh.

From the minute the girls awake at 6:30 a.m. each weekday, they follow a
tight schedule. They make their beds, eat breakfast, then gather in the
living room for scripture reading ad a devotional led by Prather.

By 8:40 a.m., each girl takes their assigned seat in the classroom and
begins school work from the School of Tomorrow (formerly ACE) curriculum.
Staff member Laney Nipper monitors the girls as they work, and Mrs. Prather
helps them with academic problems.

Home schooling is the only option for these girls, Prather said. "With the
problems that the girls have, there's no way we can allow them to go to
public schools, or even Christian schools," he said.

Mrs. Prather tests them to determine their grade level and gauge their
academic progress. All the girls test below grade level when they arrive at
the school, but in time they catch up. Some even get ahead, Mrs. Prather said.

During their free time after supper, the girls may choose to attend a
counseling session with Prather. He meets one-on-one with each girl behind
a glass door, in full view of the other residents. Among other things,
Prather strives to help the girls deal with the anger driving their
behavioral problems.

The couple also encourage creativity to build confidence and self-esteem
among the girls. They are taught needle arts such as crochet, and the older
girls may elect to take art or draw and paint in their free time.

All the girls become members of the Hope Christian Home Singers, which
performs at churches to spread word of the ministry. A few years ago they
recorded a CD, "God Saves Ole Sinners." Donations from these appearances
help support the ministry.

Generous support in recent years has enabled Hope Christian to start
building its dream home: a new 4360-square-foot log building perched atop a
40-acre hilltop site in Montgomery County. The new building features one
large dorm to house up to 12 girls, a larger apartment for the Prathers, a
dining room to seat up to 40 and interior storage space.

At present, the structure has a roof and exterior walls, but not much more.
Unwilling to borrow money, the Prathers await further donations before
continuing construction. Mission group volunteers are providing most of the
labor.

The new location eventually will allow the Prathers to help more troubled
girls, and maybe even unwed mothers. Prather envisions a large compound
with outbuildings to house older girls with a staff member.

He hopes public support will help make it possible.
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Re: Hope Christian Home And Academy, Duck Hill, MS

Postby valkyrie1966 » Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:20 pm

Hope Christian Home and Academy Duck Hill, MS
As a broadcaster and blogger, I have spent much time addressing issues of abuse, particularly within Christian circles. I applaud your effort here to expose abusive care homes for girls. As a parent of a daughter who has been a resident at the above referenced school for nearly 5 years, I will state authoritatively, however, that what is being published here is libel. Our daughter has seen this school inside and out and has thrived there. She left our home because she was out of control as an adoptee with multiple behavioral issues. She was behind and failing in school, leaving the house at night to seek boys down the street and that's before she hit the age of 11. She turned our peaceful and loving home into a living hell, destroying the environment here for all of the rest of the children. She could not stay here as she was rebellious, destructive and ruining her own life, as well as endangering her safety snd ours. She was placed in this home because she COULD NOT FUNCTION within a normal family, as none of the girls there can. Five years later she is home again, functioning on grade level, enjoying her family, able to follow rules and has a bright future ahead of her. She reported constantly on the loving attention and counsel she was given. We are grateful beyond words for Hope because we have seen the impact it has had on our daughter who has nothing but friends down there. I am disgusted that this kind of anonymous slander can be published online without the slightest attempt to get the school's side of the story. There are abusive homes for girls that need exposure. But there are also abusive, lying and manipulative girls who go online and lie about those who have the thankless job of caring for them in an institutional setting. Who in the world would want to run a home for girls like this? Answer: Christians who believe that girls like our daughter are worth salvaging.
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Re: Hope Christian Home And Academy, Duck Hill, MS

Postby lemonworld88 » Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:51 pm

Hi there,
I'm sorry for not replying to your message sooner, as I just saw your reply. I assure you that I am not an abusive, lying, or manipulative girl at all. I was at Hope Christian Home and Academy from spring 2004 to spring 2005. I am now approaching it having been seven years since I left. I am 24 years old now, I recently graduated from college, and I have a very healthy relationship with my family. I am married and am very content with my life. In no way would I characterize myself as an angry or manipulative person, much less a girl. I am a young adult who came into her own, but I am here to tell you that in no way did Hope Christian Home and Academy have any part in that.

Did I need time away from my family way back when I was 15? Yes, I definitely did. Did I have a bad relationship with my parents? Absolutely. I was young, confused, and hurt by events that had recently taken place at home. I have no reason to lie to you about any of this. This isn't being broadcasted on the news and it isn't making headlines. I stumbled across a site over a year ago called "heal-online" where people of all ages could post their personal experiences at places like Hope. It is very obvious that there are many, many abusive facilities out there....ones Hope doesn't come close to. After all, physical abuse does not occur at Hope. The girls are well-fed, get plenty of sleep, receive homeschooling. However, the abuse that I experienced was emotional. I experienced shaming for calling myself an atheist. I experienced shaming for having eaten a lot before I ever came to Hope. I experienced shaming when I tried to eat only a little when I first came to Hope. I had recently recovered from an eating disorder and no attention was paid to this until I was caught trying to make myself throw up in the bathroom. The result of this? I had to write 2,000 sentences. I remember the number vividly because it was the most I ever wrote and it's quite a lot. The time when I most felt emotionally abused, though, was when I was put in a back room of the house (the old one) for one month. I had mentioned something about atheism (which I didn't even fully understand myself at the time) and as a result, I was not allowed to talk to, be near, or even look at other girls in the home for one month. I enjoyed having time to myself in that room, but can you imagine not being allowed to talk to anyone? I could make a motion if I wanted to talk to a staff member about something, but that was it and it was never for long. Can you imagine how terrible this was for a girl who was so far away from her home and her family? I mentioned one sentence about something I barely knew anything about at the time and I was punished by being isolated. No, there was no physical abuse, but this experience has stayed with me to this day.

The Prathers are not bad people and I think that they have good intentions. However, this is no place to send your child. Seek professional help. There are Christian counselors and professional Christian centers. Everything that I wrote in my above account and here happened and I remember it vividly to this day.

That's wonderful that you have a good relationship with your daughter now. That's something that I'd want for any parent/child. I too am happy to say that I have a wonderful, open relationship with my parents now. The past is far behind us. I have kept in contact with many of the girls who were there when I was there and most of them are functioning well today. Many left Hope and got pregnant soon after. The positive thing about Hope is that it provided a way for the girls there to have space away from bad situations at home. However, it left many of them feeling abandoned and lonely after so long. I've had conversations with girls I was there with that lasted for hours. We dramatized nothing and none of us are delusional enough to think that it was the worst place we could have been. Some of them had been to much worse, much more abusive homes and had pretty traumatizing experiences.

I am happy that your daughter is happy. I am a happy person as well. I remember how I felt so many years ago when I was there though and it took me years to get past it. You can never truly know what this place is like unless you have been there. No, it was not the worst place I could have ever been AT ALL, but it was not good for me. Would I change it now if I could? Well, no. I have no regrets because everything that I have been through in my life (including being at Hope for a year) got me to where I am today. Both the good and the bad experiences shaped me as a person and I have no need to hold ill will or regrets. However, I am filled with anger and empathy when I think of those girls there, who are at this confusing time in their lives when they're just turning into teenagers. I remember so well just how I felt--how lonely, confused, and fearful I was that I would do something wrong and get into trouble in some way.

There's no easy answer for when kids and their parents are having the kinds of experiences that you described. Perhaps a place like this seems like the answer, but in MOST cases, it is not. That's great that your daughter benefited from it. Really! She has just another positive experience to recount from her past. However, I hope that you understand that not everyone has had such an experience. No one that I have talked to has any ill will against Hope and I don't either. What I do have though is empathy for those girls and the things they're feeling and the environment that they're now in.

I want to end this by saying that I believe young children and teens are worth salvaging as well, but I believe with all my heart that there are other ways. It will never ever be an easy situation for anyone involved...not the parent or the child. I hope that others are able to find different solutions.

I wish you the best and hope you now realize that I am not some angry young girl making up lies. I am a happy young woman with an enormous amount of empathy for those who are currently in the situation that I once found myself in.

Take care.
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Re: Hope Christian Home And Academy, Duck Hill, MS

Postby Livelaughlove » Sat May 11, 2013 2:11 am

I wish to say I was one of the girls that went to Hope and I totally disagree with this post. Without the Prather's I would have been very bad off Without the Prather's love and care. Their Love and care helped me as I left the home
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Re: Hope Christian Home And Academy, Duck Hill, MS

Postby ladyrosecallahan » Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:11 am

I have followed the posts about Hope Christian Home and Academy since they were begun. I know what went on there because I was there. I saw what went on. To the parent who extols the virtues of the Home and is grateful that it gave her a place to put her daughter, I must say the following: If your child was there for five years as you say, I feel for her. I can tell you that those who stayed at the Home longer than one year suffered greatly, even more than the so-called short timers, from loneliness, neglect, sorrow, withdrawl, apathy, depression. I feel for your daughter and I hope that she has been able to get professional counseling for her issues, and healing for what went on at Hope Christian Home. Perhaps as a parent you never got a clear picture of what went on. The girls are threatened with severe punishment for ever telling anyone what happened there. That is why telling the truth takes enormous courage. The home claims to provide a haven for girls to "get their life straight", but they provide the opposite of a haven. They provide a prison.They provide no counseling. They provide shame, punishment, harsh rigid structure. They squelch ideas and creativity. They create a culture of fear. Sometimes, they create a greater rift between the girl and her family by teaching that the Home and its leader is the only way, the right way, and that being at home, wanting to go home to your real home is unhealthy. After awhile, this made me wonder if my parents really loved me at all. After all, they said they wanted me to be at Hope, and I knew what kind of place it was. Is this was I deserved? I still wake up frequently with nightmares from my time there, and sometimes I don't know if I will ever trust again.

Fortunately, I have now had counseling, and have begun to recover.

To the precious girls who say they were not abused there, but were treated well, I have nothing but compassion. Perhaps Hope was one of the better places you lived in your life. If that is so, then I am so sorry. I hope that you find a peaceful place in your life and learn to know what a home should be like. You should not be sick from fear daily, fear of the staff, fear of the other girls, fear of being abandoned forever by the parents who left you there. That sickness, terror, exhaustion and isolation is what breeds at Hope. When it is on "lockdown" you feel like no one in the world would know if anything happened to you. The leaders there are proud to boast that their home is on 40 acres and you would never reach civilization even if you escaped. That is not true by the way. Some have run away and found civilization, but unfortunately they are almost exclusively returned to the home by local law enforcement who do not care to investigate. Letters, phone calls, even with your own parents are restricted. This cannot be right. If a girl is sick or hurting or in need, she is likely to be told to "suck it up", "grow up", and that the 11th commandment is "thou shalt not whine".

Certainly the girls who are sent to Hope need help. The tragedy is that they do not get it. They learn to conform to rules sometimes, but they are emotionally scarred. They deserve our compassion and our help. I am thankful that I am no longer there. I had to post this because after years of hiding, scared to tell anyone the truth, I am ready. Ready for anyone who will listen to hear the real story. The leaders of the Home may have asked you, parents, former girls, to keep quiet, or else to support publickly what goes on at Hope. I am here to ask anyone who wants to bring hope to those who have suffered in silent pain, if you were there, speak out about what you saw. Together we can change lives. If somehow you are in this place right now and gain access to this post, do not give up. There is a world out there ready to help and support you. You will get out one day! And when you finally leave that property for good, never let anyone silence you.
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