Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs by Elissa Wall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the second book I've read about Warren Jeffs, the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and the courageous young women who have fled his iron rule. Warren Jeffs is the polygamist leader of this renegade branch of the Mormon Church.
As is my custom, I am reading as much as I can about a topic in hopes of getting a balanced view of the subject. This book is one of the first out from an actual victim. Elissa Wall was given in marriage when she was 14 to a 19 year old first cousin whom she already disliked intensely. Elissa begged the Prophet, Warren Jeffs, not to give her in marriage. She argued that she was too young and that she didn't like her prospective groom. Jeffs only told her to pray and "be sweet," a phrase which means submit to whatever the prophet, or her father says.
Everyone tells her that she must do what she is told. Obedience to the head of the family and the prophet is imperative. There is no other choice for her except suicide. If she disobeys, she will be cast out with no money, no place to go and no knowledge of the "gentiles" she has been taught to fear. Not only that, her father may lose his priesthood because he couldn't control his daughter. That means that her mother will be given to another husband and her children will take his name.
As for being married, Elissa had absolutely no knowledge of what goes on between husband and wife. In the FLDS, sex is not talked about and young girls are taught to treat boys as snakes. They are absolutely not allowed to touch one another or even become friends. Elissa is horrified at what her husband wants and eventually, she is raped and made to do to many things that she finds repugnant. Eventually, she finds the strength to leave and finally to stand up in court and accuse Warren Jeffs of the abuse he forced her into.
It is absolutely amazing that this is allowed to go on in the United States. Young girls are being reared as chattel. Sexual abuse is rampant even with girls barely 12 years old. This is a book that everyone should read so this practice can be stopped.
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