(Repost) “An Unmitigated Disaster” – Escape Chapter 15: Hawaii

This chapter really highlights how dysfunctional Carolyn’s family is, and how fucked up FLDS doctrine is – and keep in mind, this is before Warren Jeffs took over and it got extreme.

Imagine getting the opportunity to vacation in Hawaii. Awesome! Only… you have to go with the husband you hate. Not as awesome. And he’s taking two of his other wives… so not awesome. And your husband doesn’t even bother to tell you and your sister wives that you’re going: he just kind of lets you find out on your own… even less awesome. And you’re pregnant and have horrible morning sickness. Now we’re pretty fucking far from awesome.

Content note: emetophobia, emotional abuse, family drama, mention of rape.

Merril usually isn’t interested in his wives other than Barbara, but in the FLDS, you have to at least keep up an appearance of treating all wives equally, and his tendency to only take Barbara on long trips is getting noticed. Because a woman can only get messages from God through her husband, it can damage his standing in the community if he appears to be failing at the task of keeping his family under control. Merril has tried to keep the illusion of equality going by keeping most of his younger wives pregnant. But that only gets him so far. So he figures he’ll knock down three long trips in one and haul three of his wives to Hawaii. Continue reading “(Repost) “An Unmitigated Disaster” – Escape Chapter 15: Hawaii”

(Repost) “An Unmitigated Disaster” – Escape Chapter 15: Hawaii
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Protected: “God is Going to Destroy His Life” – Escape Chapter 27: Harrison’s Cancer

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(Repost) “A Destiny I Wasn’t Really Seeking” – Escape Chapter 14: My Patriarchal Blessing

This is a super-short chapter. It basically centers around one religious event in Carolyn’s life: her patriarchal blessing. The blessing is the most important part of a woman’s life outside of her marriage and childbearing. It’s delivered by one of the church’s patriarchs (the dudes just below the Prophet and his apostles), and generally consists of them telling a young woman that she’s going to “become a faithful wife and a mother in Zion, raising faithful children up to the Lord.”

Carolyn hadn’t gotten her blessing prior to getting married and having kids, so her patriarch, Joseph Barlow, has to get creative. He pulls out all the stops. He puts his hands on Carolyn’s head, and informs her that she’s “a direct descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus Christ.” In fact, “The pure blood of Jesus Christ runs through” her veins.

Waal okay then.

Then he tells her she’s a totes special spirit that God was saving up for the last days. She’s been born on this earth “to be part of ushering in a thousand years of peace.” And she’ll even get to see Jesus hisownself in this lifetime!

Why so special? Because she’d “been an enormous influence in casting the devil out of heaven.” She’d been super-smart in that whole kerfluffle. And because she was so smart, God had decided to use her on Earth. She could tell if someone was good or evil just by looking at ’em. (Well, she’d pretty much proved that with Merril, right?)

So God has spirits watching over her, and will be using her “to protect his people in the last days.” She’ll “work in the temple and be responsible for many people receiving their priesthood training.”

But that’s not all! Continue reading “(Repost) “A Destiny I Wasn’t Really Seeking” – Escape Chapter 14: My Patriarchal Blessing”

(Repost) “A Destiny I Wasn’t Really Seeking” – Escape Chapter 14: My Patriarchal Blessing

Protected: (Tier 1) “I Offered Up My Body” – Escape Chapter 26: I Take Charge of My Life

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(Repost) “We Were Nearly Starving” – Escape Chapter 13: Move Home

Carolyn’s back home after graduating college, but that home is anything but sweet. She and Tammy are the only two wives trying to make the family chaos more orderly. Merril’s business has been fined for violations of some sort, and they have less money than ever to manage on. He gives them only $100 per week to meet all the needs of almost 40 people. Merril’s older daughters, the nusses who had lorded it over all the other girls in school, are now stuck at home doing housework and childcare, and they show their displeasure by doing a piss-poor job of it.

Content note for financial and verbal abuse, food insecurity, starving children, and forced marriage.

Merril, of course, doesn’t let himself or his favorite wife suffer. He and Barbara enjoy expensive dinners out in Page. When he comes home, he takes all of his wives out to eat – which only increases his daughters’ resentment.

Carolyn and Tammy take over the shopping, organize meals and cleaning, and plant a garden. People who haven’t gardened in the northern Arizona desert won’t understand what an undertaking that is, but it’s not simple to nurture plants in that environment.

“Personal items” like soap are a luxury they can’t afford, so the household does without.

The two women are virtual superheroes. They keep everyone fed and the house somewhat in order – as much as is possible under the circumstances – but Merril isn’t grateful. He’s upset to the point of tantrums that they didn’t consult Barbara on their activities first. He expects them to follow the orders of a woman who is never there and doesn’t have to live in dire poverty. He’s beyond ridiculous. Carolyn can’t even think of him as her husband: he’s “that man, an egocentric bully,” forced on her, and not a “gift from God” as her religion teaches. But she still clings to her faith. At this point, it’s very nearly the only thing she has, aside from her kids.

Winter arrives. There’s no more produce from the garden, just a dwindling supply of tomatoes picked green and left to ripen in buckets. The family is subsisting on cracked wheat for breakfast, and tomato sandwiches for lunch and dinner, while Merril and Barbara live it up in Page. Children, including Carolyn’s son Arthur, are losing weight, and she’s afraid she won’t get enough nutrition herself to keep producing breast milk for baby Betty. Continue reading “(Repost) “We Were Nearly Starving” – Escape Chapter 13: Move Home”

(Repost) “We Were Nearly Starving” – Escape Chapter 13: Move Home

Protected: (Tier 1) “A Sin Unto Death” – Escape Chapter 26: I Take Charge of My Life

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(Repost) “I Lost Control of My Body” – Escape Chapter 12: Accident

Prepare yourselves for a ridiculous amount of victim-blaming, financial abuse, sexual and reproductive coercion, spiritual abuse, and food insecurity. Ain’t being an FLDS wife great?

Eleven months into her travesty of a marriage, Carolyn Jessop becomes pregnant. She suffers horrible morning sickness. In the best traditions of religions everywhere, she’s promptly blamed for being ill:

Within the FLDS, any personal problem is seen as the direct result of sin. Serious emotional or physical problems were considered a curse from God. It was also dangerous for a woman to show any incapacitation related to pregnancy because it was viewed within her family as a sin of rebellion – unless, of course, you were Barbara, for whom the double standard applied with regard to her crying bouts during her pregnancy.

Not only do her sister-wives think God has a mad because Carolyn must have fucked up somehow, they also accuse her of being violently ill several times a day just to get attention. And women in this culture, reduced to virtual property and valued only for how many babies they can manage to squeeze out, are often the ones most keen to tear a fellow wife down. Women are pitted against each other in a precarious struggle for pitiful scraps of power. These systems could not survive if they didn’t get their victims to willingly participate in their own victimization, and help keep each other down. No one’s going to encourage women to band together and help one another find their power. The system is set up to reward backstabbers and crush revolutionaries. And, while one woman can acquire considerable power by playing by the rules, she’s at risk of being torn down by the jealous others if she gains too much of their husband’s favor. Continue reading “(Repost) “I Lost Control of My Body” – Escape Chapter 12: Accident”

(Repost) “I Lost Control of My Body” – Escape Chapter 12: Accident

Protected: (Tier 1) “I Was Finished” – Escape Chapter 26: I Take Charge of My Life

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(Repost) “Coming Undone” – Escape Chapter 10: Cathleen and Tammy Marry Merril

Merril Jessop now has two new wives. That means living arrangements have to be rearranged, but you know that’s not something Merril ever thought about.

CN: Mental illness, ableism, domestic violence, abuse and neglect.

Tammy has to personally turf one of his daughters out of a bedroom so that she has a room in the same house as her unlawfully-wedded husband. Cathleen, the gentle-natured one, is installed in the younger boys’ room, forcing them to squeeze in with other brothers. Lest you think Merril gave her a room because he actually likes her, note that he immediately skedaddles with his favorite wife, Barbara, leaving Cathleen to care for 28 children pretty much by herself. Ruth and Faunita are too consumed by psychosis and depression to help, Carolyn’s at college, and Tammy could give two shits about other people’s children.

So yeah, Merril married Cathleen for political power, and then moved her in because he needed a nanny. Proper Prince Charming, ain’t he just.

And when she finally confronts Merril about it, he tells her to learn how to do stuff from his elder daughters (who are completely MIA) and that she needs to take a nap.

Husband of the fucking Year material right here, yo.

Meanwhile, Tammy’s only concern is how she can get moved into the house and persuade her new hubby to fuck her rather than fuck her over. Yep. He married her, but he still hasn’t slept with her.

When Merril gets home from his post-wedding business trip, he chooses to deal with Ruth’s psychotic behavior by ignoring it. Cathleen about loses her shit, because the man of the family is falling down on his job:

In the FLDS culture, people believe that the mentally ill have invited evil spirits into themselves. Cathleen could not fathom why Merril would allow a wife who’d been taken over by an evil spirit to be running around his home and scaring his children with her bizarre behavior.

Such a healthy attitude towards mental illness. *fatal eyeroll* Continue reading “(Repost) “Coming Undone” – Escape Chapter 10: Cathleen and Tammy Marry Merril”

(Repost) “Coming Undone” – Escape Chapter 10: Cathleen and Tammy Marry Merril

Protected: (Tier 1) “Why Was I Staying?” – Escape Chapter 25: Turning Point

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