Local Woman Speaks Out About Past Abuse At Christian, Locked-Down Facility, Starts Group To Raise Awareness

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As she began to unearth and process the abuse she'd endured at a Christian, all-girl, locked-down facility decades earlier, an Orange County woman saw a void and filled it -- she founded Survivors of Institutional Abuse.  

Jodi Hobbs was sent to Victory Christian Academy (VCA) when she was 17. The school, which was located in Ramona and founded by Michael Palmer, was eventually shut down.

Hobbs spent a year at the school, which she described as "very aggressive." Not only were the girls forbidden from forming relationships, aside from with their assigned "buddy," but they were also forced to read the Bible three times a day and attend chapel twice, Hobbs says. "Basically, you're getting brainwashed. You start to believe that the world is bad and the only good thing is here."

If they broke any rules, which often changed, Hobbs says, they were sent to the "get right" room, a closet with a light, where they could "get right with Jesus." Hobbs was sent to the "get right" room three times, she says. Once, she forgot to bring a pencil to class and had to spend two weeks in the room. 

Soon after leaving the school, Hobbs got married, had kids and tried to move on with her life. "I went through bouts of depression and I couldn't figure out where all this was coming from." 

One day, a reporter called and asked her about her time at VCA. "I was terrified," Hobbs says. The call triggered her curiosity and she started to scour the Internet searching for information on the school and for online support groups. "I started deprogramming myself. Being made to eat your own vomit, that's not okay. I had to go through a series of my convictions versus what Victory says." 

Thanks to Facebook, Hobbs connected with Christie Niznik, who also went to VCA years ago, and now lives near Hobbs. "I went to look for anything out there for survivors and there was nothing and that's when I started talking to different girls about developing this organization. We need help, we need to unite, that's kinda how SIA was born," Hobbs says. "It's about healing and moving forward so it doesn't happen again. I want to raise awareness so nobody has to go through what I went through and what Christie went through." 

At SIA's convention in Long Beach this February, the group is going to promote United With One Voice -- a compilation of stories from people who lived in VCA and similar lockdown facilities. 

In the book, Niznik shares recollections from her time at VCA, as well as noting that her parents heard about the school from Calvary Chapel. Similarly, Hobbs says her parents heard about the school from a parenting group called "Tough Love," which she described as "an offshoot of Calvary," adding that "a lot of the students that were in Victory got put there through that group."

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9 comments
christian clothing
christian clothing

It is sad to learn about these things. The issue should really be addressed. 

christian t shirts
christian t shirts

this is very sad. women should never have to go through anything like this. 

Reddit TroubledTeens
Reddit TroubledTeens

I'm very impressed with what I've seen from SIA, this is an exciting organization that is filling a much-needed void. Kudos to Jodi Hobbs for turning her horrible experience into something that will help others.

Christy Nelson
Christy Nelson

I spent weeks at a time in both Get Right Rooms. To this day I am clausterphobic and hate riding in elevators.I sleep with my tv on because the darkness terrifies me. At least in the GRR in dorm 2 you could hear SOME signs of outside life when the girls came and went from school to lunch to chapel, etc. The GRR at the back of dorm3 was like being alone in Siberia while being forced to listen to crudely taped recordings of Hell Fire & Damnation from sun up to lights out. I left that insanity 23 years ago and it still feels like I left yesterday.

kittybrat
kittybrat

Thank you for your bravery, Jodi. These places MUST be shut down! Regulations do not apply to these religious places, and there is no excuse for our society to allow this to continue. 

Athirson
Athirson

The Inquisition lives on...

kittybrat
kittybrat

Christy, I am so sorry that happened to you. So sorry. The Get Right Rooms were, of course, subdue chambers, and you came out more broken with your head down. A classic brainwashing technique. I am glad you made it out, and hope your sanity envelops you.

Jodi Helm-Hobbs
Jodi Helm-Hobbs

I was in both of the GR rooms and I agree the one in dorm 3 was more isolated. Thanks for sharing Christy. 

Jodi Helm-Hobbs
Jodi Helm-Hobbs

Thanks Kittybrat!  We need to protect the children that are sent to these places. The parents are scared and dont know enough to ask the right questions. We need to get the word out there so this will stop. If you are not allowed to see your child or speak with them for an extended period of time this is not normal!!! There should be a concern and red flags raised to ask more questions. 

I also feel like we are bonded with the abuse that was shared no matter what facility,  we share an understanding.  There is so much healing in knowing someone understands and can relate to you. 

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