Monday night I went to see Carolyn Jessop speak, and she is so amazing. Carolyn Jessop was born into a polygamist family. At 18, she was married off as the 4th wife of Merril Jessop, who was in his 50’s. She had 8 children with him and in 2003 was able to escape from the community with all 8 of her children. She wrote Escape in 2007, and just recently Triumph came out.
Since my only other experience with hearing an author speak was Jodi Picoult, who was funny and out going, I was kind of surprised, which I shouldn’t have been. Carolyn was soft spoken and nervous. Her tale is absolutely amazing. Most women that are able to escape from the cult, aren’t able to take their kids with them. She got all 8, one of which has lots of health problems and needed an oxygen tank.
She mainly read from her new book, talking a lot about what is happening with the cult now. How after the raids in Texas, some of the men have been sentenced to prison, including a couple of her step sons.
One woman asked how much power Warren Jeffs has over the cult now he is in prison, and she answered none. At which several people started clapping, but like she said, doesn’t matter, there are lots of other men just as bad or worse waiting to take his place. She said the prophet that was in charge when she was growing up valued education and paying taxes and not having debt. Then when Jeffs came to power, he changed it and said all money should go to him.
She talked a lot about how polygamy should be regulated so there’s not the physical and sexual abuse that happens now. The victims also need to be held accountable. Right now, they just listen to the prophet because if they don’t the cult will take their children. The women should be told if they don’t cooperate, then the government will take their children.
Another question she got asked was about Oprah going to the ranch. She said it infuriated her because Oprah made it look great and that everyone was happy. That if there’s going to be a segment on it, it should show it how it truly is, and not the puppet show that was put on for them.
I think the saddest part of her story, was that when her eldest daughter, Betty, turned 18, she returned to the cult. She said she hardly got to talk to her daughter and would be able to do a few texts to her, but not sure if it was really her on the other end. The last time she had seen her daughter was about 8months ago and she said she looked sick, that she had lost about 20 pounds. I found this website with pictures of Betty.
When I got to her to have my book signed, I asked her if she attends church now. She said that she doesn’t, at first she tried by attending the Mormon church as she thought it would be similar ( I figured that too), but it was nothing at all like what she was used to so she stopped. She said she couldn’t make her kids go, as they were like we just got out of this don't make us go back.
This picture is of one piece of stained glass
in the Unity Temple, where she spoke at. I love it.
Everybody should definitely read her books. I have just started re-reading Escape, before reading Triumph. She is an amazing woman. For more information, she said to go to the Texas FLDS blog. There are links about the history of the FLDS and how to help the women.