Escape chronicled Carolyn Jessop’s tragic life filled with torture as a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Forced to be the fourth wife to a man three times her age, Carolyn never fully accepted the FLDS’ way of life where she endured ridicule and scorn from her sister wives in the ultra religious sect. The arranged marriages between teenage girls and older men repulsed me even before I learned the girls were completely ignorant about reproduction. At times, I wanted to scream for Carolyn to rebel until she explained how little control she had over her own life. She was forced to give any money she made to her husband and the police and paramedics in the surrounding community would only respond to her pleas for help if they had her husband’s permission. The socially approved beatings she received from her parents, teachers, and then husband, left her feeling of little worth and made her submissive.
I struggled to understand just how sheltered she was, but soon realized the indoctrination she endured throughout her life made her unable to question the fantastic ideas the members of the FLDS spewed, which I easily balked at. It reminded me how fortunate I was to grow up surrounded by different ideals that helped me shape my own beliefs about life religion and marriage. The FLDS home schooled most of the children to prevent them from learning about the world and instill fear of outsiders. Two of my favorite lies the FLDS preached were that dinosaurs never existed and the devil lived in bodies of water, so swimming was prohibited. The constant fighting between the wives became overwhelming as a reader, and I can only imagine how it wore Carolyn down in real time. The more I read, the more I commended Carolyn for her brave and rebellious act of leaving the sect. Sadly, it took an ex-convict to inform her she didn’t need her husband’s blessing to go to heaven, and to point out her marriage was filled with abuse that would lead to her death.
Carolyn’s story of how she escaped with her eight children and won their custody in Utah courts was inspirational and informative. I have a new understanding of the FLDS, which made her escape even more amazing.