NOTE: I have spent years covering polygamy and events in the FLDS community, including the first trial of Warren Jeffs and the 2008 raid on the YFZ Ranch in Texas. You can find all of my posts on polygamy by clicking here:

Eldorado – Betty Jessop at the YFZ Ranch. Wednesday, January 7, 2009.

There are two competing story lines to Betty Jessop, which I think are summed up in the two photos above.

1. The FLDS view (on the left) is a smiling and happy young FLDS woman who returned to her faith and family when she turned 18 and now lives a wonderful life surrounded by family and friends.

2. The worldly view (for lack of a better term) is a curiosity and sadness that this young girl had escaped a cult but chose to return to its secretive culture and give up her freedom.

Please use a permanent marker to circle your position on the computer screen. Especially if you are at work.

Hey, did I mention that I met Betty Jessop?

We were ushered into this dining room area in a home on the YFZ Ranch and met Betty. She was surrounded by (I’m guessing) her sisters and other family members. They were all a little nervous at all the attention, and there was much giggling. I don’t think too many strangers with cameras come around.

Betty laughed and was a little camera shy at first. It was the end of a long day and she hadn’t expected to have her photo taken tonight. She was hardly the first young woman to ask me to delete any “ugly” pictures. I thought she looked great. We sat down and she talked, and after thirty minutes or so it was over.

Last night I went to a local bookstore to hear Betty’s mother, Carolyn Jessop, talk about her bestselling book, Escape. As she read about Betty, Carolyn got emotional. At one point, reading about her leaving, she told of going back into the house to get her daughter and saying, “Betty, I will not leave you behind!”

During the Q&A Carolyn was asked how her kids are doing now. Speaking of Betty, she said that Betty had turned down a friend’s offer to pay for college. About Brooke’s article on the front page yesterday, FLDS Teen Disputes Mom’s Book, Carolyn said, “That’s been very painful.” Brooke’s story focused on a book that Betty has been writing about her experiences in and out of the FLDS community. Someone described it to me as “Escape From Escape.”

Carolyn said that Betty had lots of friends when she was attending public school after leaving the FLDS (in West Jordan, a suburb of Salt Lake City), and she worried that the book might destroy Betty’s relationships with those friends, further locking her into the FLDS society.

Someone asked if the FLDS members of Carolyn’s family had read the book. Carolyn said she didn’t know, that if any had they would never admit it as the book would be contraband. During our interview with Betty, she said she had read parts of her mother’s book, and expressed hurt by some of it.

Carolyn talked about how smart Betty was, and suggested that Betty would be saddened at the state of education among the FLDS. She said Betty had taken a child development class in high school, and would know sexual abuse when she saw it.

Someone said to Carolyn, “I have a hard time understanding what is pulling Betty back.” Carolyn said that Betty was a favorite of her father, that he named her his favorite name. She said Merril was very protective of Betty. If the girls got in trouble the punishment would be, “A slap to the sisters and a sucker for Betty.”

According to Carolyn, leaving the community was a big blow to Betty. In the FLDS community, she never got in trouble. She was the favored daughter of one of the most powerful men. Teachers bowed to Betty. She had the world by the tail. When she left and went to a public school, she felt alone. She missed her half brother. All the kids had a hard time without their siblings.

I think you are seeing some of the people that Betty felt alone without in these photos.

The mind control is really strong, Carolyn said. We sent her to twelve therapists; it was impossible to break through the mind control.

Carolyn said she calls and texts Betty all the time, though she wasn’t sure if it was really Betty’s number or if Betty even had access to a phone. “Once in a while I get a call,” Carolyn said.

I remembered that Betty had a phone and a camera, which you see in most of these photos.

Carolyn said that if Betty wanted to get out, she would. “I would make sure,” said Carolyn.

This Post Has 87 Comments

  1. Thanks for the backstory. Nice frame at the table.

  2. Thank you for sharing. On the last picture three of the girls are biting nails. Do you think she is happy there now? Does she miss an outside world?

    1. While Betty probably had friends in high school, I’m sure there were also hard times. She was trying to live her fundamentalist beliefs, and It’s high school, you know? She’s with her father now, by her choice (as far as I can tell), and seems happy with her decision. I think it’s obvious that someone in a position like hers would feel pressure (real or not) from activists on either side of the issue. Hopefully she makes her choices for herself, whatever they are.

  3. she will find out one day, she should have got out of there at the first opportunity

  4. Wow….notice how some of these children cover their mouths. Body language says what the mouth usually doesn’t.

  5. After reading Joseph Smith’s life in the book entitled “Mormon America,” and researching the sect, I would say that Joseph Smith lived in his own fantasy world of make believe relgion, in which he conjured up so called ‘golden plates’ and prophetic fantasies that were false. Men are superior to women and children, and their rights come second to the man(eps older men)
    Smith like war games, and secret societies(had his own so called ‘secret society’) He spent much of his time looking for hidden treasures with a metal detector, and fantasizing the world that he made up.
    Unfortunately, his sexual desires led to many wives, which even those leaders close to him, knew that it was pure lust, not love. He did not hesitate to shoot anyone if he was angry with them, and had his own security guards, hired to make sure that his enemies were taken care of.
    How he managed to convince innocent people to follow his religious ideas is related to his charisma, and their lack of knowledge. It pays to research any system before deciding it is of God, because it may be just one man’s ideas.
    thanks-myra mcqueen

  6. Ms. McQueen,
    While I respect everyone’s opinion, yours is very disheartening. You sound like you’re describing Warren Jeffs, not Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith’s life was far from a “fantasy” as you put it. He went through some of the most terrible experiences and sacrificed a lot to bring forth a truth that, while its contents are wonderful, no mormon forces on anyone. I don’t understand why people are so judgmental of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (not to be confused with that FLDS nonsense) and its members. They are the most kind-hearted and service-oriented group I know. I would urge you to talk to a mormon about Joseph Smith, and then ponder your thoughts about him again. I mean, if I wanted to learn about Catholocism I wouldn’t talk to a Jewish person. Think about it.

  7. Funny, nobody else has a phone or a camera.
    How odd that Betty would show up for photos
    with one of each!

  8. Sad…Sad…Sad…Betty looks so OLD for such a young woman.

  9. in the second pic – is that a male in the background pointing a finger at a female???

  10. That’s a male, but he’s not an FLDS member. He’s an attorney who was having a conversation with a group of people in that room. I have no idea what they’re talking about right there but I was in the room before we started talking to Betty and the attorneys were just finding out about the people.

    One attorney asked one of the women, “How many children do you have?”
    The woman said, “Fourteen.”
    He didn’t seem to believe it and rephrased his question. “I mean, how many children have you given birth to?”
    “Fourteen,” she said with a smile.

  11. Wait until little Miss Betty is married off to some half toothless 65 year old, as wife #62. Her trials at a public high school will seem like child’s play compared to her wedding night. Ugh. Gives me the creeps.

  12. so odd how she manages to include the cell phone and camera in each picture… it is clearly staged to make people believe she has access to those luxuries when she probably does not

  13. kook-

    From my time around the FLDS, there don’t seem to be restrictions on cel phones. In fact, it seems that everyone has one. And during a recent court hearing in Salt Lake City, where at least a thousand FLDS members held a rally, there were hundreds with cameras taking plenty of photographs.

  14. Zebra @ Sept 9th: I doubt that Betty will be married off to an older man. She will probably always play the role of Elian Gonzalez in this community, and retain a great deal of power and status.

    I think returning to the FLDS is simply what Betty wanted to do. In retrospect it may have been wiser for Carolyn to let her go home sooner, rather than obligating Betty to wait until she was 18.

    I notice some peculiar things about these photographs too, which I think would be better not put into words. I do agree with Amanda from August 26th; this is not the face of an 18 year old.

  15. I promise you Betty is gappied then you’ll ever know!
    Thanks for your concerns, but I don’t think she’ll be interested!

  16. Dolly –

    I’m assuming that you mean “happier” where it says “gappied”

  17. Does anyone realize that the dress Betty is wearing in these photos costs $160 at the FLDS website?? Fancy garb for folks doing “God’s work.” I also noticed that the girls in the photos are exhibiting some anxiety through their body language. I hope they can escape the cage of “fundamentalism.”

  18. Kathy –

    There must be a lot of mark-up for the FLDS dresses available through their online store. The materials involved are not expensive. Their dresses are essentially solid-colored cotton-polyester blend fabric, four or five matching buttons, thread and maybe a zipper.

    I like that Betty dressed her outfit up with cute black ballet flats instead of the ubiquitous athletic shoes or sandals-over-socks. Tres chic, Betty!

  19. I find it so interesting how all the girls either cover their face, or are chewing their nails. I would be nervous to living under those conditions. Not knowing when I will have my innocents taken from me, just because some prophet hooks me up with some old perv! I truly feel sorry for not just Betty but all those young woman and girls. Their future is dim and lies in the hands of a old man that will dictate their lives. This is not Gods will. When I read the book Escape I was appalled by the way woman are treated. They are totally brain washed and so are the young men! I will pray for the young members of this bogus cult.

    1. How interesting we can all look at the same picture and have a different opinion. You see them as nervous, chewing their nails, wondering when some “old perv” gets hooked up with me. I see them as not being used to being surrounded by cameras, microphones, media crew, etc and them thinking, wonder how many of those “pervs” out there will be starting at us.

  20. I am reading Escape and find it very disturbing. My heart breaks for the women and children in the FLDS. I hope and pray that Betty was able to see the goodness on the outside and be able to help those in need in the FLDS. They seem to be living in their own sad world without any freedom. It kind of reminds me of the women in the Middle East countries, your husband calls all the shots. Betty please remember that your mother loves you and did what any sane person would do in those conditions.

  21. I agree it seems very middle east. This girl is living in a fantasy world, she has no idea of the hardships ahead. At 18 she should be heading to college not about to procrate 18 spawn that will be brainwashed and abushed. My hope is that one day poligamy is ilklegal as it should be in all 50 states and territories.This is so wrong on so many levels.

  22. dear all, please do not compare FLDS women to the middle eastern women. very different.

    in the middle east/muslim world, women are encouraged to look beautiful for their husbands. polygamy is allowed but it is barely in the same fashion as the FLDS people. for one, it is not encouraged for polygamist women to stay in the same house. a man who wishes to take on more than one wife should house them seperately and be as fair as humanly possible (meaning if you want to buy your 2 wives gifts, you got to buy 3 because after the 1st wife picks her gift, the second wife should also be given the freedom to choose which gift she wants from the remaining 2 and not pick the “reject” gift of the first wife). polygamy is encouraged to avoid more sin between relationship between an unmarried woman and a married man – however, if the man cannot be fair, just and cannot afford it, then he shouldnt do it.

    something about the LFDS seems so wrong, and yet i feel so interested to read more. for me, i am just curious to know what is the pull for these women? seems so strange, so unnatural…

  23. hey
    I just finished Escape by carolyn jessop it’s really good !!!
    Does anyone know where I can find “Brooke’s story focused
    on a book that Betty has been writing about her
    experiences in and out of the FLDS community”

  24. Hi myra
    After reading the book escape and taken islamic classes, I know polygamy in FLDS is TOTALY diffrent than polygamy in islam. I prefer the islamic polygamy but I would still never agree to share my husband!

  25. I think the book “Escape” should be read by everyone…. because I found in it applicable characteristic behaviors (by men) that are found in MANY religions (not excluding the LDS…. and not to be confused with FLDS), and, found there in justifications used by all women who have been oppressed, or mentally, verbally, physically or sexually abused.

    (Not here making a statement on the “doctrine” of any religion) I was once married to an LDS man (individual case) and I noticed (while reading the book) that his tactics, of trying to get me to agree with him and do as he wanted, was very much like the FLDS men (in Jessop’s book) including withholding acceptance, approval and love, repeated verbal reminders of my failings(in his eyes) and potential future lack of salvation, until he got his way. To him, as to the FLDS men (in Jessop’s book), it’s a woman’s “duty” to obey her husband no matter her own insight or treatment, and anything short of that objective was displeasing to GOD, resulting ultimately in “apostatizing” if one doesn’t do as is prescribed. It’s called “fear and guilt motivation”. (So beware, you who are LDS men, if you do not want your sect to be negatively compared to FLDS, that you not reflect those negative FLDS behaviors.)
    The use of (what I call) the “God beating stick” on women, in order that men can have their way, is found in many religions. And all such men are behaving unrighteously, no matter their sect.

    No, Betty is not happy no matter the claims… (or the staged photo opts with a phone and camera in hand… the absence of such in other’s hands being a dead giveaway), for, it was the Lord who gifted all with an endowment of “right of choice” in this life (not withstanding there are consequences in all choices.)
    That right of choice is natural to our natures and HIS WILL in the matter, and the suppression of it is unnatural. And anything that attempts to permanently restrict that “right” (excluding children, who need guidance and to be taught limits) is not of GOD, in fact, is in defiance of the Will of GOD (and there in is the dead giveaway as to whether the FLDS is the “true” pathway.)

    1. I enjoyed reading the book Escape except that I found Carolyn Jessop could be quite manipulative at times. For example (just ONE), on their honeymoon to Hawaii (she and two sister wives and their husband) she admits to purposely hurrying to take one of the two seats next to him. (This man who supposedly repulses her and she can’t bear for him to touch her.) This causes one of the other wives to have a breakdown and have to go sit in the back of the plane. Carolyn makes no attempt to hide that this gives her pleasure. Then that night the husband chooses Carolyn to sleep with (Carolyn is pregnant and the third wife is not, so wife #3 is understandably unhappy.) Carolyn talked about how being pregnant and giving your husband more children gives you more clout in the family, so wife #3 missing out on an opportunity to get pregnant really seems to make Carolyn pleased (by what she says in her book.) So while Carolyn gleefully tells us how she causes this other wife irritation, in the same breath she complains and portrays herself as the victim whose vacation in Hawaii was ruined because of the other wife who kept crying and complaining! Well if you supposedly hate your husband so much AND you want to have a good time in Hawaii, why do you keep passively-aggressively irritate her? For heavens sake!

      Also I am sorry that your LDS marriage was not a good one, but please don’t lump all LDS people in together and criticize them. I am divorced. I am LDS and my ex-husband was (barely) for a very short time. That had nothing to do with our divorce. I have also seen quite a few LDS families and spoken intimately with the wives and they are truly happy (though I will admit not all are – just like among other religions, among atheists, agnostics, etc. Your extreme dislike for everything LDS (FLDS or original) is quite evident. Please don’t insult me or my religion.

      Finally you made the statement “No,Betty is not happy no matter the claims…” While I will agree with you that these are obviously staged photo ops, unless you are a mind reader, one of the best psychiatrists *ever* who has been working with her for years, or you are Betty or the Lord Himself you have ABSOLUTELY no way of knowing whether or not she is happy. I was startled that someone would consider themselves qualified to make such a judgment on another’s emotional state. That statement of yours gave every other thing you said very little (actually NO) credence.

  26. The physical, sexual, and emotional abuse FLDS women have to deal with is sickening and heart-wrenching. Betty, as the favorite daughter of the most powerful man in the community, probably has not experienced any of this abuse. Yet. If she is forced to marry some eighty year old man who can’t even stand up, let alone get it up, her feelings might change. If she is married to a cruel man, they probably will. The FLDS seems to encourage men to be brutes and egomaniacs. Her mother lived through many years of abuse and degradation before she was emotionally ready to leave. I can only hope that Betty will see the truth as time goes on and once again be ready for freedom.

  27. Just read the Carolyn Jessop book as well. Judith on 11/3 is certainly right. Betty will have a powerful position within the FLDS for a while because of her father’s status, and her return to the sect. I’d be very interested in reading her story as she sees it now at 19, and then again to read her story when she is say 39. At 19, she doesn’t have the experiences that her mother had, but rather her own experiences. I suspect that she isn’t currently open minded enough to be able to learn from her mother’s experiences, compare them to her own and her own observations of others in her community to make a fully informed decision as to how she wants to live the rest of her life. Really, what 19 year old does?
    Hopefully Betty will be a sufficient force within the FLDS community to steer changes to the better and away from the mindset that appears to enslave the sect. At the very least, due to her position, she will likely not suffer as her mother has.

  28. I don’t think Betty will have the experiences that a lot of the other girls have. for one thing, she is 19 now and has not been given to any man, young or old. Since her father, Merril is the leader for now at the Texas ranch, I don’t think Betty will be forced to do anything she doesn’t want to do. I think she truly wants to be there and loves her family on the inside. She is happy because she is favored. Whether or not she takes advantage of this is not known, but with all the publicity and lies that the leaders are trying to convince “outsiders” of, they will not do anything to Betty. Watch and see, I’ll bet SHE is the one to choose her husband, not some “prophet”

  29. Just finished ESCAPE, that book is truly heart tugging, I also tend to agree with Cris that Betty will probaly
    choose her husband, because the whole world is watching and MERRIL HAS TO SAVE FACE,and try to discredit Carolyns
    written account. My heart goes out to all polygmist wives,especially to Carolyn.

  30. Its really unfortunate that people could be so lost as to believe lies that are so far away from the teachings of Gods true word,”The Holy Bible”. Mormonism IS a cult, and not at all in line with the word of God. The Bible warns of false prophets, and that is indeed what Joseph Smith was. Poeple are saved through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, nothing else. And unless you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, you will not be saved. However, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and Savior, you will be saved. And there is nothing you can do other than that to gain salvation. We don’t get to heaven on good works, it is through a relationship with our Savior Jesus, who bled and died and paid for our lives with His own. I am reading “Escape”, and what these poeple must endure, is the most ungodly thing imaginable, shere toture. I aploud her for her courage and dedication to her children.

  31. This is for Myra, who responded in Feb. 2010, and who asked the last responder not to compare FLDS women with Middle-eastern women. Myra–middle eastern women SHOULD be encouraged to look pretty NOT just for their husbands, but for any people they are around–potential boyfriends, other women, husbands, friends, AND ESPECIALLY THEMSELVES!!! Why is everything about sex (or the avoidance of sex) in muslim thinking? A woman and her beauty do not belong to her husband or the man she will eventually marry, whoever he is. Her beauty belongs to HER. It should make her feel good, appreciated and confident that a man on the street finds her attractive!! That is not sin–it is what we all experience–and should. And…your comment about polygamy being allowed to help prevent sin between married men and unmarried women—WHAT ABOUT THE SEXUAL DESIRES OF THE MARRIED WOMEN???? You don’t think a woman would sometimes long for another sexual partner? OF course they do!!!! You, my dear, are so oppressed that you don’t even know it. And if a muslim man gets to get another sex partner, the wife should get hers too!!! What is wrong with you? Women and men are equal in this world—you women who are brainwashed into thinking it is a man’s world first are living in the wrong place, surrounded by the wrong people and the wrong ideas. Get your stuff and get on a plane.

  32. I guess I didn’t follow the whole story/news, but I get the gist of it all.
    I was raised in a polygamist household. There is so much to tell, but not yet.

    I have personally met one of Carolyn’s “sister” wives.

    Even though I have long been out of the cult I was born into, I know of many secrets.
    I am “awakening” myself and memories to so much as I was young.

    These people call themselves “Fundamentalists” for their own glory. They want to believe that there way is the only right way!
    There is also a reason that the LDS church no longer lives these “PRINCIPALS”

    At a very young age it was drilled into my head that the only way to reach the “highest” level of heaven was to live plural/celestial marriage. I also rebelled at a very young age and although I was not allowed to have “relationships” with boys, I had decided I would not be a 2nd or 3rd wife. If I had to live the “principal”, I would be sure to be a 1st wife and therefore have the rights of being the “wife”. The first wife is allowed much more privilege than the following wives. She is afterall the “legally” married one.

    Betty will most certainly be a 1st wife, but she will then have to “share” her husband. She will have a great eye-opening at that time and depending on how ingrained the brainwashing will determine just how long she will put up with the hell of it.

  33. It will be interesting to see how the finances and riches of the FLDS play out now that the Obama administration is in power. There is no way Obama’s czars are going to allow these men to keep their wealth on their terms. Take away their wealth, take away their power.

  34. Maybe Betty will be able to help, support, and educate young women in her community about what is available in the “outside” world. I hope she can help them realize that life in the FLDS is optional and not necessary for survival. She seems to have the strength and leadership needed to be an advocate for women who are in positions dictated by others. I hope she finds love and support in the community she has chosen to live in. I wish her all the luck in the world.

  35. Why do all the young women in these pictures look as if they have Down syndrome?

  36. after re-reading “Escape” i think that Betty will be treated extremely well back in the FLDS, the people leading the church will want her to continue thinking that her mother was wrong to take them away, and treat her like a princess, therefore not marrying her off to an old guy. i think she will be given many choices in life that the other women in the community are not given, as the “leaders” know that the world is watching this one girl and they want to keep up appearance that the girls all have a say (eg. that if they dont want to marry an old perverted 80year old then they dont have to)

  37. I read ‘escape’ quite a while ago and am re-reading it now. I was wondering how Carolyn and her children were doing these days, on wikipedia i found some info and i decided to google on Betty’s name. It’s a shame Betty didn’t feel strong enough to stay away from FLDS. Noone can possibly convince me this girl is happy. No matter what people will say or do, deep down she knows. She just knows.

  38. This is for Joan on April 4th – The FLDS is different than mainstream Mormonism. I’m a mainstream Mormon, and reading about the FLDS, it is just as foreign, heart-wrenching and maddening to me. FLDS 100 years ago was an off-shoot to mainstream Mormonism and since then has done their own thing and beein more and more different from mainstream Mormonism as the years went on. I just read Escape, and let this mainstream Mormon attest that Carolyn’s experiences are about as foreign to mainstream Mormonism as Tahiti is from Siberia.

    What Carolyn went through was a result of a radical offshoot that completely fell into a cult-like mentality and used “God” as a way to justify power, abuse, neglect, rape, and almost murder. NOTHING like mainstream Mormonism. I am the sole wife to my husband of 15 years. We both have college degrees, we both are professionals, and we have only 2 kids (3 and final after this year). He treats me with respect and love and I don’t have to ask permission for anything, because we have a mutual love and respect for each other (NOTHING like the madness that is taught in the FLDS).

    Please do not associate the FLDS with the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormons. The FLDS experiences were just as foreign and outrageous and maddening to me if I was Catholic, Jewish, or Agnostic.

  39. Nail biting is a non-verbal gesture. In adults it is often a habit that is adopted and carried through from childhood and can become apparent in stressful situations throughout adulthood. To most people, nail biting is associated with nervousness and shyness and is an involuntary response to certain social situations. In many cases, it is an adaptor behaviour that channels nervous energy, inactivity or boredom and does not interfere with normal functioning, the only effect being cosmetic. In severe cases nail biting can become a repetitive behaviour that is intentionally performed. It can result in substantial physical damage.

    So when we look deeper, in both adults and children, it has been suggested that severe nail biting is often referred to as a method of ‘self-beating’. This indicates that nail biting is a subconscious behaviour signifying increased anxiety and low self-esteem in the perpetrator. In fact, some have gone as far as to suggest that extensive, frequent nail biting in children can even serve as a cue indicating that child has suffered some level of abuse. However, it’s worth noting that this is not necessarily the view of all psychologists.

  40. I could never be an FLDS wife–mostly because my hair would never do that “thing” in the front. What’s up with the cloned hairdo anyway? Makes me wonder who decided that all the women should look like they’ve suffered from traumatic head injuries. But maybe that explains…

  41. Does anyone happen to know if Betty IS married now to some old geezer in the FLDS community? I think she made a poor decision by going back to that cult society, and yes it IS a cult! It isn’t natural to have more than one wife OR to marry your cousin, brother, father…whatever. It is more natural to marry someone who ISN’T related to yourself!

  42. Who has read “Stolen Innocence”? – Elissa Wall. Awesome full-length account of life at FLDS. Fills in great detail life before “Escape” from the church, as well as legal wranglings once she was out, and married to Bartow.

    I agree with the cat who digs these hair cuts! I wish that component of “class” pervaded our society at large, not just a religious compound. Just picture Betty’s head on top of a black .38 Special concert Tee and NORMAL fitting bluejeans(not the ones faded you know where, or ripped, or show your butt crease – I hate those!) and a pair of low-cut Timberlands on her feet.

    As far as the State of Utah – that church must have clout! The whole Jeffs thing now has to go to trial again because they threw it out!

  43. I’m confused. I thought that women in polygamist families were taught from an early age to keep emotions to a minimum. I see an awful lot of smiling and laughing in those pictures. Or is that staged or just done for the cameras brought in by non-polygamists? Is it certain that Betty has not yet been married off? She really goofed big time by returning to the FLDS! She had an opportunity to get out when her mother Carolyn took her, and her 7 siblings and escaped the FLDS.

  44. Kind of corny, but this song by the New Radicals in the late 90s just coincidentally describes the emotions of the young adults on those compounds. “You Get what You give” on the appropriately titled Album “Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too”! The first verse gives me the chills in retrospect, after reading both the Wall and Jessop accounts:

    Wake up kids

    We’ve got the dreamers disease
    Age 14 They got you down on your knees
    So polite, you’re busy still saying please (…YOU’RE BUSY STILL KEEPIN’ SWEET!)
    Fri-enemies, who when you’re down ain’t your friend
    Every night we smash their Mercedes-Benz
    First we run and then we laugh till we cry

    But when the night is falling
    and you cannot find the light
    If you feel your dream is dying
    Hold tight
    You’ve got the music in you
    Don’t let go
    You’ve got the music in you
    One dance left
    This world is gonna pull through
    Don’t give up
    You’ve got a reason to live
    Can’t forget you only get what you give

    Four a.m. we ran a miracle mile (Elissa Wall sneaking her future husband his meds!)
    were flat broke but hey we do it in style
    The bad rich
    God’s flying in for your trial (look out, Mr. Jeffs…)


    This whole damn world can fall apart (NOT! Wrong again, Warren)
    You’ll be ok follow your heart
    You’re in harms way
    I’m right behind
    Now say youre mine


    Fly high
    What’s real can’t die
    You only get what you give
    Just don’t be afraid to live (Carolyn Jessop wasn’t)
    Health insurance rip off lying FDA big bankers buying
    Fake computer crashes dining
    Cloning while they’re multiplying
    Fashion mag shoots
    with the aid of 8 dust brothers Beck, Hanson
    Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson
    You’re all fakes
    Run to your mansions
    Come around
    We’ll kick your ass in!

    Don’t let go
    One dance left

    (unsaid lyrics from liner) Championed by a soulless media misleading

    people unaware they’re bleeding

    No one with a brain is believing (You weren’t supposed to *think* in the FLDS)

    It’s so sad you lost the meaning

    Never knew it anyway

  45. Betty should be proud to have Carolyn for a mother. I have read the Escape book. She is a very strong woman and has risked so much her children would have a better life. And yet Betty feels offended by that book. I don’t get it. However, being the favorite child of Merilin Jessop might have had its perks, she had a hard time in high school, but I mean a lot of kids have a hard time in high school.

  46. Anna, Betty’s brain may have been PHYSICALLY re-wired by the brainwashing of that system – not just emotionally. And she’s either the oldest or second oldest of Carolyn’s children at the time of the Escape. The signficance is that the “cement” of Betty’s brain is the most “set” in the FLDS ways. The younger kids were still malleable in the head and they were gotten out of this “church” before the thought patterns were permanently ingrained. All of this means that her thought patterns are permanent, and nothing said other wise, even in a court, is going to change how she feels/is wired to feel.

    Sad, but quite possibly the way of it with this particular Jessop.

  47. Wonder how long Betty will be protected if she decides not to keep sweet?

  48. I just read Escape about ten minutes ago. I can’t understand how Betty could turn her back on her mother who fought for so long to flee from the communty. I guess the mental holds that her father has on her are too strong. I think the phone in the pictures is a front. Is it not weird to anyone else that there are so MANY kids in these pictures. do we really believe that they all came from one man and one woman? It scares me that this really exists, and here in Texas no less. Gives me the creeps.

  49. I too have just finished the book. I couldnt comprehend that this was happening NOW. It just doesnt seem real that this bullying and abhorent behaviour is happening. When I was reading it felt like another century.
    I am deeply saddened for the lives that were damaged. Also scared for the lives that continue to be so.

  50. I have just finished reading Escape. My heart goes out to all the women in the FCLS. I can’t imagine going through all that abuse…..I hope Betty returns home to her Mother.

  51. I think Betty went back to what she wanted. She must feel most secure within the FLDS framework. I’d like to hear the story from her perspective. I wish I had the opportunity to share the true, and only gospel of salvation with her: Through faith in Christ and his death on her behalf alone; not by works or religiosity. Betty, if you only knew how freeing the gospel is, that you can live in purity in a dark world, but be free to seek God’s will and calling on your life.

  52. I just finished this book and I am totally alarmed by the whole cult. The things that get done in the name of God. Just crazy. I have 5 kids and can’t begin to imagine giving one of my 4 girls to a man 4 times their age. Did I hear right that jeffs was let out of jail….his sentence overturned???

    1. Warren Jeffs is currently in a Texas jail awaiting trial there. His sentence in Utah was overturned.

  53. I find the majority of the comments here pretty disturbing. I just finished reading Escape, and, like so many others, have been blown away by the horrible abuse described by Carolyn, and have tremendous admiration for her courage and sacrifice.

    BUT… I think most people fail to see one thing: Carolyn’s experiences don’t necessarily reflect ALL experiences within FLDS. In fact, a careful reading of the book shows how different Merril Jessop was from many other FLDS men. Carolyn describes her own relationship to her father as healthy and fairly normal. And while she seems to have had a sheltered and somewhat difficult childhood, it can hardly be claimed that it was so much worse than your average American child or teen. Her severe disaffection with the lifestyle seems to have begun only after she married.

    Of course, underage marriage and spousal abuse are horrible crimes. But I’m not sure it’s fair to characterize an entire community by the experiences of one (or even several) individuals.

    As for Betty, I have no reason to doubt that she is genuinely happy. And for all we know, she might marry a good FLDS man, and remain hapy for the rest of her life. To doubt her sincerity is to arrogantly assume that our mainstream culture is necessarily the only kind leading to happiness. I also find it pretty ludicrous that people think nail-biting in the photos is an indication of unhappiness. If I had to guess, I would say that these girls were anxious in the presence of reporters and camera. These kids and sheltered and grow up with no movies and TV. For them NOT to be nervous would be worrisome.

  54. buat carolyn,it is a very good job.saluuttttttt!!!

  55. I have recently finished reading both Escape and Triumph. I believe that Carolyn Jessop truly is one of God’s angels. I just cannot understand why she has chosen to keep the surname of Jessop. ? has she not completely cut her ties with that evil ‘man’. As for her daughter Betty – I have much empathy for her.

  56. I attended the same high school Ms. Jessop back in 2005 and was amazed by her mothers story. She was actually in one of my classes called Adult Roles and sat behind me, I also knew her older brother who sat next to me in a Science class. I needed electives and I guess at the the time this class sounded interesting. Betty was very shy and reserved as I remember, but seemed liked she agreed what was being taught and the teacher was really impressed by her. In this class we were taught about maturity as we transitioned from teenagers to adults. For the majority of the time we were taught about relationships when dating, marriage, child bearing and raising. We were also taught our responsibilities on how we treated our future spouse. We also talked how to build strong marriages through equal partnership. I wonder how often she is affected by this class now.
    I know high school was rough for her but she did have some friends from what I saw. I regret one day for not standing up for her in the hall. Some dumb kid yelled pretty cruel things trying to be funny about her hair and clothes, right in front of me. She didnt deserve that, and if you ever read this Betty I am sorry for being the big dumb jock I was, and not stepping up to that punk telling him where he could go. You never deserved that, in fact I thought you were very brave for always standing up for your beliefs in a high school like ours. Her brother was cool , I got along with him in fact he graduated in my class I think. Anyways I hope she is happy, same with her bro.

  57. just finished escape hope betty finds clarity and leads a normal lifestyle

  58. Carolyn Jessop came to speak at a small book club gathering I attended last April in Salt Lake City. She came with her boyfriend. We had read her book “Escape”, and I was particularly interested by it. She is very thoughtful and well-spoken; her boyfriend also had a lot to say about the FLDS. Yes, other commenters above are right about her childhood seeming relatively happy – it was her arranged marriage that was toxic. The other wives of Merrill Jessop treated her horribly. I’m sure there’s all kinds of strange dynamics such as she experienced in the FLDS – how can there not be with arranged marriages and competing wives that may not like each other and don’t choose to enter a relationship with each other??

    Carolyn seemed very heartbroken about Betty’s return to the FLDS. Last spring she had no idea where Betty was and had not heard from her or anything of her whereabouts for eight months. Tears came to her eyes as she spoke of Betty. She was suspicious and concerned of some type of arranged relationship – perhaps with Warren Jeffs (even though he is sitting in a jail cell). But if you think about it…what a trump card for Merrill Jessop and Warren Jeffs to take her daughter away from her completely?

    I hope the best for Betty. But she is wrapped up in a situation where there is coercion and control, mind games and guilt. I hope she is smart and strong. I also hope she remembers how much her mother loves her – perhaps she will fully realize a mother’s love when she becomes one herself.

  59. Maybe Carolyn Jessop kept her “married” name for the benefit of the children. Quite often there is a stigma attached to families with multiple names. After reading ‘Triumph’, I have been blown away by Carolyn’s bravery, honesty and desire to see justice done. I have just ordered a copy of ‘Escape’ and cant wait to read about the tribulations of living in a fundamentalist cult. For me, hero’s come in a different form.

  60. I have just finished the book and admire Carolyn Jessop and applaud her courage and strength. I know warren jeffs was arrested but what is puzzling to me is how Merril Jessop was never charged with anything? Or how Barbra got away with her abuse. Sickening that it is still happening to this day!! How can people be so gullible as to fall for all that rubbish that the FLDS believe in!!! I understand that they are born into it…but common sense would tell you after some time that is all geared up to suit the male and his needs!!! Even though Betty turned 18yrs old and was able to decide to return to that life I can not understand why!! Best of luck to Carolyn and her children and I hope Jeffs and Merril rot in hell!!!!!!

  61. I just read Escape. It was heart breaking that agency was replace with abuse.

    My ex was looking into joining a polygamist group. It was not the FLDS. I was afraid for my teenage daughter. In this other group my daughters had their agency who to married. One daughter married an older man, after her first husband had died. He been a very good husband and son-in-law.

    Just want to say there are other
    polygamist group that respect agency, and true Love of God is found within the homes.

    My prayers and thanks goes out to Carolyn and her family.

  62. There are no words …when it comes to the brainwashing and abuse of the FLDS! Sadly the whole story illustrates how religion = doctrine. We see it in almost every faith known to our planet…… The true and good and holy kernel in all world faiths (as all faiths have a true and good epicentre) gets manipulated and changed to match into egotistical, power hungry individuals who want to control the masses……….and people become indoctrinated and brainwashed………..ego is man’s biggest downfall…..

  63. Just finished the book “Escape”. Too many adjectives to mention, but it was eyeopening, and alarming. Carolyn mentioned something in the book that stuck with me and as a Christian I can relate to it. She said, ” We (meaning members of the FLDS) felt like we were better than others or people on the outside”. She talked extensively on how the members felt that if they endured the trials of life in the FLDS that they would be of a much higher standing in the afterlife than other people. I think that this is the main reason why Betty and all the others stay in the cult. They feel secure and believe that they will be rewarded in the future. On the outside Betty felt vulnerable and weak and didn’t have the kind of fighting spirit that her mom had. She had always been spoiled by her dad and wanted to return to that kind of pampering where she would feel like she was in control. One day she will wake up and find herself old, run down, undesireable, and powerless. Then she will know that she made a mistake.

  64. Carolyn Jessop is an inspiration, this is strong women. I feel bad for her daughter Betty, and ashamed for her to give up the wonderful gift of freedom for a life of a that trash can.

  65. I have read this book for the 2nd time and I am appalled. I live in Las Vegas Nevada and I see the boys they throw to the street and I worked by a warehouse that held their food and the women and children would come in van loads to this warehouse in Henderson the all looked like concentration camp survivors. I always wanted to run up to them and ask if they needed or wanted help but the men always looked very scary, threatening and intimidating. I WILL STILL HELP ANY FLDS WOMEN CHILDREN OR YOUNG MEN WHO NEED TO ESCAPE> I AM CLOSE TO COLORADO CITY AND HILLDALE AND I KNOW WHERE TO FIND YOU> IF YOU NEED HELP TO ESCAPE CALL ME!!! I WILL COME FOR YOU AND WE WILL GET YOU A NEW LIFE WITHOUT A MAN LYING TO YOU ABOUT RELIGION SO HE CAN SLEEP WITH AND ABUSE MULTIPLE WIVES AND CHILDREN. DENISE 702-278-1920 LAS VEGAS NV> YOU FLDS WOMEN ARE NOT ALONE> WE WILL HELP YOU JUST ASK.

  66. I really related to Carolyn’s book, Escape (was married to an abusive older man myself at 17 and left him after 8 yrs and two daughters). My girls went thru a phase in their teenage yrs where both of them were angry and abusive to me (each once slapped me across the face). I had had to move home with my own mother, who totally disrespected me as well, and took over parenting right out from under me (she had the financial resources for lessons and so forth, and I didn’t at the time). My children wouldn’t let me hug them, talk to me or even look at me. So, I started a campaign of prayer and visualization (angels over their beds at night and them bathed in white light and happiness and me kissing them on the cheek and telling them I love them). I was worried for them, after some of what they’d been through in their life, and prayed for good young men and good friends to come into their lives to make it thru high school without having problems like I did. I ultimately gave up control of the situation at the time to God, and just worked on my own stuff and healing. My prayers did come true, they both received almost full scholarships, and my baby just graduated with her Masters in Interior Architecture and got engaged to a great guy in Homeland Security. My eldest is a elementary music teacher. And, now they’re generally sweethearts and only treat me like crap when they’re pmsing! God is good. All I really ever wanted is happiness and stability for my children, so I really relate to Carolyn and hope God continues to bless each and every one of her family members on their journey forward, even those whose paths we do not understand. I truly believe and have seen in my life that all things come together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. I don’t believe he’s really exclusive – His purpose is grand, and He makes good from bad all the time. I like to look at Him like the one up in the bleachers at a soccer game, seeing everyone runnin’ around playing bunch ball with their own little devices in mind and not lookin out for their other teammates (I was a soccer mom!) He knows when the ball should be passed and who too and when we should just dribble for awhile and hold our place. We can’t see the big picture down on the field…

  67. I was enraged by Escape and amazed not only at Carolyn’s courage, but at her intellectual accomplishment, since disbelieving one’s religion is nearly impossible under Hitleresque social conditions. Freedom of religion is not really freedom. We need freedom from it. I agree with Dawkins’ idea that religion is a form of child abuse. Of course all western religions work the same way: they tell us we must believe unreasonable and unproven tenets or else suffer in hell. Over the centuries, more reasonable philosphies have been snuffed out by book burners, witch hunters and inquisitors. Through their actions we have inherited the worst of all ideas.

  68. i’m currently reading the book Escape and have also read another FLDS survivor’s story. UNBELIEVABLE what this cult does! I was a Jehovah’s Witnesses for many many years…. that was a piece of cake compared to this nonsense! I hope and pray all the other women wake up and get out!!!!! Poor children!

  69. Sad story.from finland I know there are also communities of religious group lestadiolaiset they have sex abuse against children ..many fundamentalists have same kind of belief tht only they are going to heaven and the outsife world is bad.kaarina Finland Helsinki

  70. Well like others I read Escape & Triumph as well the book by Warren Jeffs nephew “Lost Boys”. It strikes me as odd that Carolyn is 2 years older than me pretty close to my sister. I could never see my sister agreeing at 18 to a arranged marriage. I’m religous by convesion the Eastern Orthodox Church but to me religion should always be a choice. Even if someone wants to leave he/she should be FREE to leave. Yes I have seen some who didn’t stay but we remained friends. NO person should live in fear as the women, children & lost boys did or still do. Sick men(I cansay this as I am a male)who need to place women as less than equal in marriage are evil. Jeffs needs to be locked up for life for what he did to his nephews, to young girls & to all who look for hope in God. In this I can sadly understand why some are atheists. Sometimes we whom are religous are not that much of Christ. I hope the folks who have escaped are well, take care. My respect for Carolyn is immense as she left the bastards & didn’t let them win. The lost boys too need help as if men are to break cycles of abuse then they too need love & understanding as Carolyn & women deserve such.

  71. Read the book escape, and i must say Carolyn strength and courage should be an inspiration for all women including those that are in abusive relationships. But what is upsetting to me is how a man can allow another man to order his under age daughter to marry a man three or four times her age, that is where i cut tides with any religion that gives a man that kind of power. Much respect to you Carolyn and keep the hope that one day betty will wake up and realize that all she has and is going through will not get her any closer to God than the outside world is.

  72. It really looks staged the fact that Betty is photographed with a cell phone in every photo. The way things are controlled, who knows if they are even activated? It is just propaganda designed to make Carolyn look like a liar.

    1. Hey Katherine, thanks for the comment. You may be right, there’s no easy way to be sure. But phones are very commonly seen in the hands of the FLDS. The last three people we interviewed who had left the group all talked about having phones while they were in the group.

  73. I know but I have read both Carolyn’s books as well as the book by Elissa Wall. I am sure they have phones but I find it strange that for every single photo in this article she has a phone and a camera in her hand. I have never seen a subject of an interview make so sure they had their cell phone AND camera front and center in every shot. I feel so sorry for Carolyn. From the things Betty says about her mother here she seems to exemplify the disdain many of the children are taught to have for women who break away. Even before Carolyn escaped, the times she chronicled about working in Caliente were full of descriptions of how Betty would – with the help of her half siblings go out of her way to make things hard just to get in good with Merril. I wonder how she is faring now that he has been convicted and imprisoned and expelled from the cult. She is no longer the favored daughter of a powerful man. I wonder how those people are treating her and her sisters now.

  74. Let’s hope everyone finds peace. It sounds ridiculous, but still worth saying.

  75. What I find interesting. is in the last photo of Betty so many of the girls have their hand, or fingers over their lips. A sign of not being able to speak freely.

  76. Things done in the name of God are appalling.

  77. My heart and prayers go to all the women who are entered into a marriage not of their making, particularly at such an early and impressionable age. Their life is just beginning and the world is shut off to them. It has always been my belief that God made this world as something sacred and beautiful to be looked after and cherished as much as He does. I also believe that God made men and women equal, something that seems to be lost by the people in this group. I have just finished reading Escape and I find it almost impossible to believe that a country like the USA that values its freedom can allow such brainwashing and mind control to occur that makes so many lives miserable. Generations of children fed the idea that a man like Jeffs can be ‘inspired’ by God (no one can claim that) to tell them who they can and cannot marry particularly when he benefits financially and politically from these unions. I also find it amazing that in C Jessops book Escape that Jeffs father actually names a man in Canada as his successor during a ceremony which Jeffs then underhandedly maneuvers out of the way for his own ambition. Again I wish to send my prayers and may these people be blessed in this life as well as the next as this is what makes us human, to have hope and to love one another and take care of each other. To not live in fear and to embrace each day as we are meant to do with gladness and joy in our heart.

  78. a

  79. I just read her book and i must say that I am very angry about Betty. Carolyn helped her to get out of this sect, and she tried to sabotage her ambitions. I am sad to see how powerful sects can brainwash you… I hope Carolyn finds happiness in her life.

    greetings from Austria =)

  80. I read this book and its so wrong so sad what man can do and allowed to do in a supposedly free country! She is one very courageous woman and I admire her and yes her daughter has the mind control still within her! And I do not believe in religion in any way I believe in a pure relationship with Jesus and he is my Teacher and carer of my Soul I pray with all my heart he finds Carolyn as she said I want not to know a God and can one blame her as she was born into this and now as the years go I pray God and Carolyn find each other and Betty one day sees the Truth!

  81. I have just finished reading Escape! It was very heart breaking to read this book! I can’t imagine what Carolyn went through and so glad she was able to get out! I hope her daughter Betty is happy if she wants to be with her father! I hope her kids are doing well!

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