Saturday, April 3, 2010

Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall

Genre: non-fiction, memoir, polygamy, FLDS, abuse
FTC Disclosure: library
Published: 2008
Pages: 438
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 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.

Rating: 4/5


  1. I just find books like this too disturbing to read. I appreciate reading your thoughts about it though. It's just tragic.

  2. I read this one last year, and it was my first attempt at reading about the FLDS. I've always been fascinated by their beliefs and lifestyle, even though it's so far opposite of what I personally believe. I was so proud of Elissa in the end that she took a stand and did not back down against Jeffs. I hope he spends the rest of his life in's the least he deserves for all that he put no telling how many young girls through.

  3. amazing story. so glad she was able to get out of the situation and fight for justice. but also so sad to hear that it this kind of thing still happens these days - in the USA! ick!

  4. Wow, what a heart-wrenching story! It's crazy to think that these stories are going on right now in our own backyards.

  5. I know I wouldn't be able to read this book -- not when children and abuse are involved. My husband has an uncle who is still part of a P. group. One of his guy cousins left, one stayed. A world I cannot understand.

  6. I dont think this book is the one I want to read at the moment. It all sounds so sad...and brave of her to get out of that community. Thank you for your thoughts on the book.


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