Aileen's Reviews > Escape

Escape by Carolyn Jessop
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Mar 31, 2008

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Read in April, 2008

** spoiler alert ** It is as I finish this book and write this review that federal agents are serving search and arrest warrants at the Fundamental Church of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS) current compound in El Dorado, TX. Escape is written by a former FLDS member who recently escaped a polygamous marriage in Colorado City, UT with her 8 children. She testified in last year's trial against their "prophet" Warren Jeffs (though this trial is not covered in the book) which resulted in his state conviction and a sentence of 10 years in prison for accomplice to rape for arranging the marriage of a 14 year old girl to her 19 year old first cousin. That background gives you a glimpse into the author's previous life.

Although this is the best written book, it is hard to put down. It describes a world that is hard to believe exists in the U.S. As described by the Utah attorney general, "I have a corner of my state that is worse than [under] the Taliban." Women are forced into arranged marriages. They are encouraged to have as many children as possible. This not only gives them more "power" in their polygamous household, but it also is progress towards their exalted place in the celestial kingdom. Complete subservience to their "priesthood" (husband) is demanded. Violence, both physical and sexual, is common. Mothers are basically not permitted to "mother" their children; physical affection is discouraged; hugs and kisses, a sign of weakness and coddling, extinct past the nursing years. Sons and daughters, future priesthoods and mothers/wives, continue to be raised in this environment today.

It is amazing that this woman not only escaped, but that she succeeded in being awarded custody of her children. It is a complete testament to her personal strength, determination, and individuality. She rose above and thought for herself. She wanted more for her children and knew that more was "out there." Unfortunately, once her eldest daughter (who had escaped with her) turned 18, she (the daughter) opted to return to the FLDS community. I cannot imagine the author's heartache and sense of loss, now losing her daughter to everything she (the author) has fought against. As of the writing of the book, the author had not heard from her daughter after her return to the FLDS. In the trial which I mentioned above, the author was a witness for the prosecution; her eldest daughter, a noted witness for the defendant, Warren Jeffs. Family against family.

This book brought me lots of sadness. As a mother to 3 girls, I cannot imagine raising them to their teen years, only to have them sent off to an arranged marriage by some "prophet." This is a cult, pure and simple. The mind control is incredible. The use of religion as a form of power and control mirrors all domestic violence relationships. The girls are not raised to know they have control of their own destiny; education is an after-thought; women are for procreation only, and even that appears to be to satisfy the sexual deviancy of the (much) older men.

What's scary is this is today. Today. In the United States. I say prayers today that another Waco isn't on the way as agents surround and seal off the current FLDS compound in Texas.

N.B. The FLDS is completely separate from mainstream Mormonism, which is refered to as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Church of Jesus Christ disavowed polygamy in 1890.

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