I first heard about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) when I read Jon Krakauer’s book Under the Banner of Heaven:  A Story of Violent Faith.  This book provoked a lot of discussion at the adult book club at the Newark Library within the Alameda County Library System. 

Escape, written by Carolyn Jessop with Laura Palmer, gives a first-hand account of life as a member of a polygamist family residing at the main FLDS community of Colorado City, Arizona.   Ms. Jessop was raised in a polygamist family and married by her father as a fourth wife to Merril Jessop, a man thirty-two years her senior.  She bore eight children in fifteen years to this man who treated her as disposable property, and she also had to defer to the whims of the sadistic third wife, who always found fault with the behavior of the other “sister wives”.   

Carolyn managed to escape Colorado City when her husband was out of town and was the first wife from a polygamist family to retain legal custody of all of her children, largely through the legal help of the Utah State Attorney General.  Ms. Jessop describes in detail life in Colorado City during the rise to power of Warren Jeffs, who made life within the FLDS akin to life in an absolute totalitarian state.  For example, Jeffs banned the red flowers and clothing, had books which he disliked burned, and had the community witness one of his wives kill a tethered cow with a chainsaw.   

Carolyn Jessop was able to overcome what was diagnosed by psychiatrists as post-traumatic stress disorder, and is currently involved a man she actually loves.  Seven of her eight children have resisted returning to the FLDS community. 

After reading this book, I got a much better understanding of the psychological hold religious brainwashing has on members of this and other fundamentalist cults, and I would recommend this book to anyone trying to understand inner workings of this group.

Advertisements