After having read Jessop’s book, I get a better understanding of this one. What’s different about it though is the author of this one was married by Jeffs at the age of 14 to a cousin who was abusive to her at a previous time when the prophet ordered Wall’s dad to repent from afar because he couldn’t control his family. “Control” in the FLDS meant not being able to keep the women “sweet” and obedient and their children likewise. Elissa and her siblings were forced to live on the ranch of an uncle who had an abusive son who Elissa was later forced to marry.
Like Caroline Jessop, Elissa Wall had plural mothers. They didn’t get along. It created havoc and disharmony in the home and Wall’s biological mother went to the prophet Rulon Jeffs for help. Jeffs was incapacitated from a stroke and his son Warren ordered her to leave for a while and allow Wall’s dad to repent and work toward the prophet’s good graces to let his other family come back. They were able to return but with the stipulation that her dad could control the family.
Another eruption broke out, leading Elissa’s mother to once again call the prophet for guidence. This one lead to Wall’s mother being “reassigned” to another man. In the meantime, Warren Jeffs had taken control of the sect and was putting out new proclamations from the lord which included no more public school because they were contaminated by the outside influences—-you know, like science, history, and the arts.
Another thing that both books mention is the rift in the community during the 80’s in which women were being assigned to men in marriage by more than one councilman and/or the prophet. This lead to the prophet at that time, named Uncle Roy, to declare that assignments of marriage should only be proclaimed by the prophet. The council elders and a percentage of the community disagreed and this lead to the split. The ones that sided with the council elders were banished from the community and formed their own. Both communities were forbidden to have close contact with each other and the families who sided with the councilmen were called apostates.
As Wall points out, leaving all the decisions and power to one man can be a very dangerous thing.
to be continued…
Elissa got to talk to the prophet Rulon Jeffs and tell him tearfully that she believed she wasn’t ready for marriage, that she was only 14 and she was being told to marry her first cousin. Still recovering from a stroke and being hard of hearing, she asked her to repeat what she said as he ate his lunch. When she was able to compose herself she repeated her story, only to have Warren jump in and tell him loudly that Elissa thinks she knows better than the prophet and says she’s not ready. He said it in a tone that twisted her words. Finally, the old man prophet looked at her and told her to “follow your heart.”
Of course Elissa took this to mean that she didn’t have to marry the creep. When she left Rulon’s side, Warren told her to expect to be married. She repeated what the prophet had said and he said what he meant was that you know in your heart what is right and that it’s right to follow what the prophet says.
Elissa contemplated suicide and her mother was no help. She tried to intervene for her daughter and beg Warren to let her daughter wait a couple of years before marrying. No go. Those were the prophets command and must be obeyed. Pressure was on her mother to make sure she got her daughter married or she’d probably find herself in an even worse position—-damnation for all eternity. She feared that more than she loved her daughter. She would not protect her from statutory rape because she feared eternal punishment for herself and her children. She would also risk losing her status in the community, being treated like a leaper in the only world she had ever known.
So after being forced out of public school and away from the only true friends she had, and losing her older brother’s protection when they were ordered out of Fred Jessop’s house for “reeducation,” Elissa was alone except for her mother and two younger sisters still living with them.
Now the day of the wedding has arrived and Warren Jeffs presides over the nuptials in Nevada (away from the scrutiny of authorities) and at the hotel that Caroline Jessop worked at for her husband. He orders the couple bound for all eternity and Elissa said it felt like she was condemned to hell either way.
This is a heart-retching story and I feel like I’m in prison just reading it.
Elissa’s “husband,” literally forced himself on her after several nights after being “married.” Having grown up in a cult like this where sex education was taboo and girls were taught to view boys as “venomous snakes” until their wedding day, Elissa had no idea what Allen was doing to her. She cried to her mother and a few confidant sisters in her household that Allen was doing horrible things to her. They tried to explain to her about “man-wife” relations but she didn’t understand. Her mother said that “Allen will teach you.”
She was still naive enough to think the prophet, Warren Jeffs, would understand and “release” her from marriage. You can’t get divorced in a marriage that the prophet has sanctioned. To do so would be going against “the priesthood” and you could risk losing your salvation. Jeffs sent her on her way and accused her of being disobedient and that she should never come to him again without her husband. Later, her mother was given orders to distance herself from her daughter and Elissa and Allen were granted their own home, a mobile home on FLDS property. Elissa “submitted” to her husband by laying there while he did his thing. She counted to herself until it was over.
Couples that are married in the FLDS are assigned living quarters. At least the newly wed ones are. If a woman is assigned to a man with previous wives, she moves in with the extended family.
Practically every life decision a woman makes in this cult must be approved by either her husband (the priesthood head) or the prophet. If one or the other said she can’t go to college or work someplace or move to a new location, she won’t. Her role is to be submissive, obedient, and child bearer to her husband.
I’ve got about 100 pages left to go, and now I’m up to the part where Elissa is meeting with prosecutors about the abuse she suffered under the control of Allen Steed and especially Warren Jeffs. Among the criminal charges against Jeffs—-rape of a minor, the banishing of under aged boys from their homes and families, and using the church communities’ bank as a tool for control and manipulation.
Jeffs could decide where people lived and in what they lived.
When Elissa found the courage to stop staying under the same roof as her prophet appointed husband, her husband went to the bishop and Jeffs to complain that his wife was not being obedient and fulfilling her duties as a celestial wife. The best decision Jeffs made was releasing Allen from his obligation from her (code word for divorce). Their marriage was dissolved, not because of any abuse she suffered as a minor and getting raped and battered, it was because she had developed a close relationship with a man (whom she later married) who was kind to her and a recent refuge from the community.
Jeffs was found guilty of being an accomplice to rape of a minor and sentenced to two five year consecutive terms to life. After the verdict, new information came out about Jeffs. Not only is a sexual deviant who sodomized his own nephew and had “immoral” contact with his sister, he married underage girls while still in the sect. During a recorded conversation in prison he had with his visiting brother, he admitted he was a false prophet and that he had committed immoral acts. He tried unsuccessfully to hang himself in his prison cell.
In Walls book, she said the trial of her husband in the FLDS is pending.
A new trial has sentenced Warren Jeffs to the possibility of life in prison. Several other men, including Walls ex-husband from the cult, have previously been convicted of sex crimes.