Content warning: This article contains mentions of or references to abuse and sexual assault.
Danielle Marie Bregoli, aka Bhad Bhabie, exposed Dr. Phil last week for sending her to Turn-About Ranch in Escalante, Utah, back in 2016 where she was abused for six months at the age of 13.
Bregoli, who is now 18, posted two videos on YouTube sharing her story, with one being a recording of an Instagram live and the other as part of the Breaking Code Silence movement, which encourages people to speak out against institutional child abuse. In these videos, Bregoli describes her traumatic experiences at the ranch.
According to Bregoli, she was brought there against her will by two adults who came into her room in the middle of the night, handcuffed her and put her in a truck to take her to the institution.
From there, she details the abuse that she faced. For example, she said that for the first three days she was forced to sit straight up in a circle with other students, unable to shower or move for hours. The owners also took away her phone, neglected to send her mom the letters she wrote and either forced students to eat food they didn’t like or didn’t feed them at all.
She said that when students got in trouble, the staff were able to punish them as they saw fit. She described the physical labor she was subjected to, such as walking laps for hours and "picking up horse sh*t."
In one instance, she reported that another student had been being bullied by a peer and Bregoli said that the staff told her, “Well maybe that’s what they need."
Bregoli went on to describe the trauma she experienced at the Turn-About Ranch, which included a staff member being murdered by one of the students during her stay. She also said at one point she was not allowed to change her clothes for so long that she got a urinary track infection, which the camp’s nurse neglected to treat.
Bregoli said her decision to speak out came after hearing the story of another former student, Hannah Archuleta, who claimed in a statement that she was sexually assaulted by a male employee during her time at the Ranch and she has since filed a lawsuit against the camp. Archuleta, who was 17 at the time, alleged that after she reported the abuse to the staff, they subjected her to both physical and emotional abuse in order to silence her.
According to its website, Turn-About Ranch describes themselves as a “Christian-based residential treatment program” for “troubled teens.”
Bregoli called out Dr. Phil, who is no longer a licensed psychologist after letting his license expire, for sending countless teens who appeared on his show to this camp.
“Dr. Phil, I am going to give you from now to April 5 to issue an apology not only to me, but to Hannah or any other child that you sent to Turn-About (Ranch) or any other program like this. And if you don’t I’m going to handle things my way,” said Bregoli.
Dr. Phil has yet to respond to the allegations, but he also hasn’t been silent. For some reason, he decided that the best course of action to distract from the scandal would be to go on a massive live-tweeting spree of an episode of "RuPaul’s Drag Race."
Bregoli concluded by calling out parents for sending their children to behavioral camps like Turn-About Ranch, pleading for them to do their research before potentially causing more harm to already vulnerable teens.
Thousands have attacked Bregoli for sharing her story, stating that she's doing it for "clout." One user went so far as to say that she's being "ungrateful" since Dr. Phil "made her a star."
Honestly, Bregoli has had her fair share of scandals. But her past doesn't invalidate her abuse. Regardless, we must believe victims' stories in order to protect our children and make a change.
By sharing her own story she not only is supporting victims who have spoken out, like Archuleta, but Bregoli is also giving the chance for victims who have been silent to feel brave enough to seek help and tell their truth, if they choose to do so.
These kids don’t need to be sent to an institution to be punished. They need a support system and to be treated with love and respect, which the Turn-About Ranch and Dr. Phil, whose show is supposed to be all about helping people, seemingly failed to provide.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article said a staff member killed a student in the caption.