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Saturday, April 3, 2010
Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall
FTC Disclosure: library
Content: PG-13 for sexual abuse
Reading Challenges: Women Unbound
Elissa Wall grew up in the FLDS church, the Fundementalist Latter Day Saints, a polygamous sect and an off-shoot of the Mormon Church. I feel that she's pretty fair in how she grew up. She spoke a lot about some of the good times she shared with her family.
This was a really, really hard book to read. It was so fascinating but ever so disturbing and heart-wrenching. To realize that her life was stolen from her before she was even born. She was a second-class citizen and completely relied upon the men in her life to tell her what to do. If she didn't do it she was going to hell. She was a bit of a stubborn child growing up, but the "prophet" ordered her parents' marriage dissolved and her mother went to a different man and her father was kind of exiled. I can't even imagine something like that. How horrible.
Then as the prophet's health declines his son the infamous Warren Jeffs begins to slowly take over. Rules become stricter such as no more celebrations or dancing, etc. He brings the scattering groups in closer together to keep his eye on the flock.
Eventually Elissa is forced to marry at 14 to her 19 year old first cousin, who then begins to rape her and abuse her throughout their marriage. She eventually finds her way out of the FLDS through the help of friends and family that had previously left. She also finds someone to love and who loves her back.
She describes her feelings how she was pulled from staying to be with her mother and sisters and her eternal damnation to leaving because she needed to be free from the abuse.
Eventually she decides to prosecute Warren Jeffs for his compliance in her abuse. Whenever she went to him for help he told her to obey her husband and be a better wife and to start having babies...despite having multiple miscarriages that her husband/cousin blamed her for, like her lack of complete obedience to him and thus God was punishing her...so icky.
I could go on about this book, but I won't. She testifies against Jeffs and yet is treated with contempt by the defense and continues to be harassed by members of the FLDS church who have devoted at least one blog to telling the world what a whore and liar she is (and if there are any comments that don't fit with their warped view of the world they delete it and claim everyone else is mislead, evil, going to hell, etc...ick.
I'm amazed that Elissa was able to get out of such a horrible place where rights are gone, women are treated as nothing more than breeding machines, and boys are left out to dry since there aren't enough women to go around.
It was a tragic book, but full of hope that others in her situation can get out and get help.