Escape by Carolyn Jessop
There is nothing I love more than cult escape stories. I know it makes me a gross person because these are real people who are actually effected by people like David Miscavige and Warren Jeffs' brutality and brainwashing... but there is very little more fascinating to me than the innerworkings of modern cults.
I enjoy occasionally reveling in my outrage... and a cult is always a great resource for me when it comes to that. Stories of a 4 year old being beaten because his mom is on the outs with the other wives, the hypocrisy, the power struggles, the blatant hatred of women... The FLDS is a glorious treasure trove for my rage addiction.
Carolyn Jessop's book was an interesting and terrifying insight into what it is like to have everything you've ever known to be true exposed for the moneymaking, power struggle it really is. Aside from the sheer atrocities and stripping of civil liberties, my heart breaks for the people who are raised in this cult. I can't even imagine what it must feel like as the curtain begins to rise and you see the man behind it. How you go on after that kind of betrayal (especially with *gulp* eight children), I'll never understand. Which just proves the strength of Jessop's character and her immense resiliency.
Also... did I mention...
I'd be reading this book and would get annoyed when Lorelai asked for her third package of Doc McStuffins fruit snacks. And then I remembered Carolyn Jessop's 8 children (one being severely disabled)... and resisted the urge to physically fall on my knees and thank God for the miracle that is Ortho Tri-Cyclen.
The dramatic first-person account of life inside an ultra-fundamentalist American religious sect, and one woman's courageous flight to freedom with her eight children.
When she was eighteen years old, Carolyn Jessop was coerced into an arranged marriage with a total stranger: a man thirty-two years her senior. Merril Jessop already had three wives. But arranged plural marriages were an integral part of Carolyn's heritage: She was born into and raised in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), the radical offshoot of the Mormon Church that had settled in small communities along the Arizona-Utah border. Over the next fifteen years, Carolyn had eight children and withstood her husband's psychological abuse and the watchful eyes of his other wives who were locked in a constant battle for supremacy.
Carolyn's every move was dictated by her husband's whims. He decided where she lived and how her children would be treated. He controlled the money she earned as a school teacher. He chose when they had sex; Carolyn could only refuse at her peril. For in the FLDS, a wife's compliance with her husband determined how much status both she and her children held in the family. Carolyn was miserable for years and wanted out, but she knew that if she tried to leave and got caught, her children would be taken away from her. No woman in the country had ever escaped from the FLDS and managed to get her children out, too. But in 2003, Carolyn chose freedom over fear and fled her home with her eight children. She had $20 to her name. "Escape" exposes a world tantamount to a prison camp, created by religious fanatics who, in the name of God, deprive their followers the right to make choices, force women to be totally subservient to men, and brainwash children in church-run schools. Against this background, Carolyn Jessop's flight takes on an extraordinary, inspiring power. Not only did she manage a daring escape from a brutal environment, she became the first woman ever granted full custody of her children in a contested suit involving the FLDS. And in 2006, her reports to the Utah attorney general on church abuses formed a crucial part of the case that led to the arrest of their notorious leader, Warren Jeffs.