Melissa’s Testimony – Teen Challenge Columbus Girls Academy

2017 – 2019

On September 26, 2017, I was admitted to Columbus Girls Academy, an all-girls Teen Challenge program located right on the Georgia border in Seale, Alabama. I stayed there until I completed on February 11, 2019. I was freshly 17 when I was admitted and nearly 19 when I left.

The program was supposed to be an opportunity to get some much-need therapy away from all the stressors of home life while I finished up my senior year. I also needed it to help compensate for legal trouble. I knew the program was technically 15 months, but I anticipated being discharged once I was done with school. I ended up finishing high school in August, 2018, and was forced to take 5 college classes through Liberty University during the remainder of my stay. I say forced because it was not my decision. The staff simply convinced my dad, a teacher who is ecstatic about college, to spend the extra few thousand dollars. I had to be in some form of school in order to formally complete the program.

The very first sermon I was present for took place on a Friday during the long weekly chapel service that took up the entire school morning and slowed down our real-world progress. The sermon was delivered by the director of CGA himself, Bob. He taught that if someone experienced sexual assault, that gates are opened to demonic activity. He explained that one is basically possessed by demons until they beg Jesus to free them. As a sexual assault survivor, this was appalling and terrifying.

The majority of the time in the program was spent on “Silence”. A