San Francisco, CA

Jackson : When I was 13 I got sent to Jamaica, to a boarding school in this WWASP program. I was having a hard time at home, you know, broken home type situation. The school was called Tranquility Bay. It was a reform school owned by a father and a son from Utah, and it was a very life altering experience.

It was about 300, predominately American kids from all over the United States. All of us were young teenagers, just troubled youth that needed help.

I'm from San Luis Obispo, CA. I was exposed to a lot of things there that I wouldn't have seen, being from  a small town.  In this school, there was a lot of kids that were from inner cities or big urban areas that are gang affiliated, so that was my first exposure. It opened my eyes up to that [world] and I wasn't really ready for that.

There was a lot of abuse, sexual, verbal, physical, by staff. Unfortunately, I got sucked into that and I was abused.  It was a recurring thing in my life. There were situations as a younger child that I had experienced sexual abuse. So I'm thinking, now as a young teenager, here we go again. 

People knew that it was going on. There was a huge cover up. I wasn't able to talk about it, or open up. The way that the communication was structured at this school was that it was a level based system. You start at level one, which is like you have no privileges. You earn [privileges] up to level six and then you graduate. Go home.

I contacted a lawyer that was involved in the Jerry Sandusky case. She helped me out a little bit, but she was like “I don’t know what to do.” Because the owners of the WWASP program live in Utah, and Utah has the shortest statute of limitations on anything that happened as a minor. Once you turn 18, you have six months to report a crime that happened to you as a minor. So basically I know in my mind that they are hiding in Utah because, they are getting protection.

When you get to level three, you get to make a phone call every couple months to your parents. But  you have a case rep that sits right there and listens to the phone call. They listen to everything you say and they actually are the ones that communicate to your parents. We didn't have a direct line of communication. So that's where the cover up begins. They knew that there were things going on at that school that were not okay.

If you say anything, they're going to be like, "he's full of shit, his behavior patterns are falling back into ... He's lying, obviously he's not ready to go home." It was bull shit.

BW: How did it affect your life?

Jackson :When I came back from that school I had PTSD for sure. I would have flashbacks, and I was paranoid. You know I was a 16 year old kid trying to immerse myself back in normal culture. 

I was engaged a couple years ago, and I had kind of a breakdown one night. We were watching Sons of Anarchy. The first season. Peggy, she gets raped and, I just had a breakdown man. I remember I went in the shower and was just crying and crying and crying. Finally my ex-fiance  came in and she consoled me. Just asked me "what's going on?" I broke down, I said "I can't, I can't keep going on like this". You know, I had nightmares.

I've been in my fair share of trouble. I've had a hard road. You know what I mean? Gotten into drugs. I know I'm a capable person, but it's just like man, for some reason, there's just certain things in my life. I can't shake certain instances. They are right here on me.



Update - Mental Health in America

Update - Mental Health in America