Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Elissa Wall - Stolen Innocence

Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs.

I found this book to be profound and moving. It was wonderful to to hear this story from an inside perspective free of the rumours and myths of questionable sources (such as the media) who report on the subject second-hand and without providing appropriate context.
Having seen religious fanaticism and even participating to some extent, I found this account to be both informative and emotional. After hearing so much about these events (especially since the relatively recent raid on El Dorado), I was thrilled to find a first-hand account of not only a critical participant in the FLDS, and not only a victim of Warren Jeffs' rule, but the woman whose courage helped bring Warren Jeffs to justice. Without her it is impossible to know how long he would have managed to continue not only evading the law but tormenting so many other young women (and young men who have no reason to think their actions [no matter how hideous] are not advocated by God through the Prophet).
I appreciate the level of detail included in the book and while I'm sure it was incredibly painful for her to publish the intimate details of her experiences- particularly the rapes and the miscarriages- I think it was absolutely essential to the value of the work. Only by exposing the true extent of Jeffs' actions could she truly demonstrate who he is and how he should be dealt with, and her book was a beautiful way of accomplishing that.

I am tempted to think that as horrendous and traumatic as it must have been for her to suffer two miscarriages, there is some poetic justice in the fact that none of her pregnancies from Allen were carried to term, but the two pregnancies with her chosen husband produced two beautiful, wanted children. Obviously I understand that the primary reason for these successful births (according to what I read in the book) was the medical treatment she received for her blood type rather than some miracle from God, but it is appropriate that she not have to bear a child of a man she hates, in an emotional prison, but the children of a man she loves in a state of freedom and happiness.
Primarily, I was so thrilled to discover the happy ending to her story, but I'm saddened to discover that not only did she suffer so much and will always carry the burden of that past, but that others (including her family) are still stuck in that terrible vortex of lies, manipulation and religious abuse.

I hope that her brave actions help those she loves to free themselves from the FLDS, and I'm so glad that I got to read about her story and hear the truth about what has really happened behind the closed doors of this group. I hope too that with Jeffs' capture, this damaging and misled faction will return to the previously-happy and fair (or at least better) state it once held, and that those suffering from it will find solace in an alternate way of life free from control and pain.

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