When I was 13 years old, I was recruited to be on staff at the local Scientology mission where my mother had been attending courses. I was appointed as a “body router”, responsible for bringing people in off the street for introductory lectures. I did this directly after school every day, except on weekends as that’s when I would visit my dad. When I was 14, I quit school entirely and joined staff full time. My mom did make me finish the 9th grade, even though the Executive Director and Personnel Officer of the local church tried to get me drop out to be at the org full time before the end of the school year. For the next 18 months, I worked full time as a body router and supervisor… until I heard about the Sea Organization.
The Sea Org
I was briefed that there was going to be an event at the local church by “Sea Org members”. I didn’t have a clue what that was, but as my mom was going, I went along with her. It was a briefing about Scientology expansion. Before the event, we were all given surveys to fill out, asking about our individual qualifications. I didn’t know what it was for, but answered the questions, such as whether or not I had ever taken LSD (no), if I had every been institutionalized (no), if I had huge personal debts (no, not at age 15) and so forth. The surveys were collected up and the event began. They had a big map of the world and said that everyone needed to get on the bandwagon to help clear the planet NOW.
After an intermission in the event, a list of people’s names were called out to report to the back room. My name was on the list. I reported to the back, along with about 20 other people who had been in the audience. I couldn’t figure out how they knew my name as I had forgotten all about that survey I did. My mom wasn’t there, so I felt a bit insecure. The main event speaker was there, along with 3 other people in full dress SO uniform and they informed us that we were all joining the Sea Org now. He said that two of the people he was with were staying behind in our city to get all of our stuff packed up and get us sent off to our destinations. He handed out Sea Org contracts, had us stand up and raise our right hands and repeat the code of a Sea Org member after him (called the “swearing in ceremony”) and then sign the contract, pledging myself to work full time for the next BILLION years. I had no clue what I was doing. I wondered why my mom’s name wasn’t called.
After we signed our contracts and re-joined the rest of the audience, I told my mom what happened. She said it was not okay, I was still a minor and they need parental approval, which they don’t have. As I didn’t want to be separated from my mom anyway, I went back to the recruiter and told them that I couldn’t go. My mother was rapidly pulled in for handling by the recruiters and she ended up signing a parental concent form, giving her approval for me to join — effective once I turned 16 years old, which was only a few weeks away by that time.
The recruiters sat down with me and had me list out anything I would need to handle before reporting for duty. They briefed me that I would be “handling the suppressive psychiatrists between lives in order to make planetary clearing a possibility”. I wondered if that meant I had to die to go between lives to “handle” these people! This was all a little scarey for me. They told me that I was to brief my father (who knew nothing about Scientology) that I was going to be flying off to become a model in Paris. My mother and I went to visit my dad and that’s what I told him. He was proud of me. I thought I was going to be sick.
The Estates Project Force
(Sea Org Basics)
Within a few weeks, I was booked on a flight to Los Angeles. Not only was this trip the first time I had ever been away from home and the first airplane ride I had ever been on, I arrived in Hollywood on Halloween, which didn’t give a good first impression! I was assigned a dormatory with several 3-tier bunkbeds in it. I don’t like sleeping in bunkbeds. Now, I’m really having second thoughts. I called my dad and told him I lied to him. I told him that I joined Scientology full time and I’m in the Sea Org with a billion year contract.
My dad got very upset. He said he was going to sue my mom for lying to him and get custody of me and get me back home. I cried and talked him out of that saying it wasn’t my mom’s fault. He told me that if I ever wanted to come home, he was there for me. I called my mom and told her what happened. She said she would be handling some debts and joining too and then we’d be together again, so everything was going to be okay.
I got routed onto the courses I needed to study, was given a schedule which included 5 hours of study time and 9 hours of “deck work”. On these courses, we were studying all about the history of the Sea Org and operating at sea. I was swimming in confusion. We had no boats or ships and what does this have to do with what I need to know anyhow? I therefore asked what it was that I will be doing after I finish my basic training. I was told that I’d be “going over the rainbow”. I asked “what’s that?”, however I was told that it was confidential and I’ll only be able to find out after I get there. I asked if my mom was going over the rainbow too when she arrived. I was told no – she was not qualified as very few people were actually qualified to go there. Now I was really freaked out. I went to my dormatory and locked myself in the room. I tied the door closed and jammed a chair in front of the door so no one could get in and I said I want to go home.
It took several hours of persuasion, but I finally opened the door. I said I would NOT go over the rainbow. I wanted to be where my mom was going to be. So, they said instead I would be posted in a different location where she could later join me. I had no idea what that was going to be, but if my mom could be there too, then I’d be fine.
A few weeks later, I ended up being sent to another continent. I was put on a job I didn’t know the first thing about. It required that I travel (I was by myself) and I had no clue about currency exchange, customs, what to watch out for, who to go to for help, how to travel within the city, I didn’t speak a word of the language… I remember one time I just asked a total stranger if he’d help me find my way to the train station as I discovered I didn’t have enough money to take the subway. Fortunately, he was very friendly. He bought me food to take on my travels and got me safely on the train.
The Rehabilitation Project Force
Within the next few months, I ended up meeting someone who was 10 years older and a veteran staff member in the Sea Org. He took me under his wing, helped answer a lot of questions. We decided to start a relationship. I wanted to get married, but I was still a minor and couldn’t get parental consent to marry until I turned 17. Our relationship landed us both in the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) in Florida.
What an experience. I slept in a paint shed or in the garage. I quickly learned about “rocks & schoals” which included push-ups, sit-ups, “laps” (including the “big lap”, which meant you had to run up the stairwell to the 11th floor and back) for such offenses as not making an acceptable product, failure to call someone “Sir”, talking back after receiving an order (known as “backflash”), missing a time target set. In the summer, it averaged 95 degrees outside and was extremely humid. Where we slept, ate and studied was infested with cockroaches and mice/rats. My husband (we did get married on my 17th birthday) was taken off the RPF and I was kept there for 8 months. We were not allowed to live together — I was kept in a dorm with the rest of the RPF.
I wasn’t making it through the RPF program as I was getting about 6 1/2 hours sleep a night and I was always physically exhausted by the time we began study at the end of the day. Eventually I was “reprieved” by issue which stated that I was illiterate and therefore incapable of doing the program. I was just happy to be off the RPF, regardless of how I got out.
Shortly thereafter, my mother did arrive and we reunited! What a happy day, though very short lived. I ended up again being assigned to the RPF (still a teenager) for something I had written up as part of an amnesty issued by LRH. This time I was sent “over the rainbow” along with several other RPFers to work full time for the next 2 years, around the clock — 15 minute meal breaks, 0-4 hours sleep a night wherever you could get it (utility closets, garage, in the bathroom stalls), running wherever we went, working with toxic chemicals, using table saws and heavy equipment in our half-dead state (I’ll spare you the gory details of the fall-out from that).
My RPF assignment did end up being cancelled as “injust” after this 2-year stint and my next few decades in the church is an entirely different story, which I may publish at some time in the future.
Currently, I am declared a Suppressive Person and yet again, separated from family members who are still connected to the church. This has left very deep scars and that’s why I’m speaking out. I feel for every person who has ever had to experience anything similar because of their “religion”. It’s discrimination, inhumane and just plain not right.
On the bright side, however, I did take my dad up on his offer to come home when I needed him. He has helped me tremendously to get back on my feet. I left with no money, no proper education, no driver’s license, no credit and no where else to turn but to family that — despite it all — still loved me and welcomed me home with open arms.
There truly is NO PLACE LIKE HOME.