Trapped – Escape Chapter 5: “Linda’s Flight to Freedom”

In our last installment of Escape, we watched Carolyn’s sister Linda flee the FLDS cult with her friend Claudel, despite the threat of losing their families and being condemned to the worst portions of hell. In the last half of this chapter, we’ll see that running from the FLDS is one thing. Hiding successfully is quite another.

Content notice for emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, creepy old men, creepy young men, stalking, and coerced marriage.

When women flee the FLDS, they’re hunted down like fugitives on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, only with less of a chance to evade capture. Linda and Claudel only manage a few days of freedom before they’re tracked and surrounded by a posse of their male relatives. The woman they’re staying with has to call the police to get rid of them, and even when told by the cops that the girls are legal adults and can do whatever they want, so scram, Linda’s dad won’t leave until he’s talked to her. She finally relents when he promises to leave her alone after they’ve spoken.

Pro tip: when an abusive asshole or a cult authority tells you they’ll stop bothering you if you’ll just talk to them this once, they’re lying. So, y’know, don’t bother.

Linda’s dad tries to talk her in to coming back, but she refuses. After he finally leaves with his posse, the girls have someone smuggle them to Salt Lake City before the posse can come back. People within the FLDS continue trying to corner them. A boy named Alma, who was on the other side of the big community schism, takes himself and his unrequited love for Linda out of the FLDS, and finds her working at a diner. He gets a job at the same diner, and preys on her loneliness and fear to make her hang out with him, even thought she doesn’t love him. You can take the boy out of the FLDS, but you can’t take the FLDS out of the boy.

Of course, Alma’s big mouth gets Linda found by her father, and she has no choice but to deal with the stalker asshole. This time, he promises to leave her alone after she talks to the current prophet, Uncle Roy.

Psst, Linda! It’s a trap!

Image shows a wee black kitten, soaking wet, trying to scramble out of a sink or tub. Caption says, "It's a trap!!!! Runnnnnn!!!!"

The prophet and dear old Dad decide Linda should marry Alma, and they apply relentless pressure until she capitulates. She’d fled to avoid marriage to a creepy old man she didn’t love. Now she has to marry a creepy young man she doesn’t love, or be cut off from her family and hunted by FLDS goons for the rest of her life. Watching what happens to her sister, it’s no wonder Carolyn spent the next couple of decades thinking there’s no way to escape.

Carolyn’s allowed to be in Linda’s wedding. She describes the unhappy occasion for us:

This was the first time I’d seen her since her escape. We had no time alone and were never able to talk. Linda looked like she’d been run over and was too tired to keep fighting. I thought she looked scared. It was hard for me to see that there had been anything positive for her in the escape. I didn’t know how she would survive in the outside world.

The non-blissfully wedded couple are no longer apostates, and with that, Linda’s father washes his hands of her. He doesn’t give a single shit about her now that he’s gotten his way. She’s “still in rebellion to her faith,” so she’s worthless to him. He won’t let her be a part of her family’s lives, not even when she’s pregnant with his grandchild several months after the wedding. He certainly doesn’t offer her young, struggling self any help. She defied his will and sullied his image as the perfect Godly man with the perfect Godly family. He probably thinks she has every bit of misery coming to her. He discards her like a soiled rag.

Carolyn says,

I learned a terrible and powerful lesson from Linda’s ordeal: escape was not the answer. I knew that if I tried, I’d be hunted down like a fugitive and then forced into a situation that guaranteed misery and unhappiness.

So when you wonder why these women don’t just leave, look back on these two posts. Note all of the ways cults like the FLDS manipulate and control and brainwash their members. Take a hard look at the odds those poor people face. Then stop blaming them for not doing the near-impossible. Start thinking of ways you can help even the odds for them.

Here are a few places that can help. If you know anyone struggling to escape the FLDS, or can contribute to the cause, they’re good places to start.

Holding out Help

Holding Out HELP exists to assist those from a polygamous background with the resources necessary to meet their physical, emotional, and educational needs. Primarily we help those transitioning from a polygamist community into an independent and self-sufficient life by providing access to housing, food, clothing, counseling, mentoring, job training, education and referral services.

Holding Out HELP is 100% supported by private individuals and small business through one-time and monthly donations, as well as two annual fundraisers.  We currently serve over 250 people a year and due to the turmoil in the FLDS community, the need has never been greater.  For the first time we currently have a waiting list for services.

Safety Net

Safety Net exists to assist people associated with the practice of polygamy, whether you’re an active polygamist or exiting polygamist.  Although, for many people, this is a very divisive issue, Safety Net maintains a neutral stance.  It is not our job to coerce you, change your mind or your beliefs.  It is our job to assist where we can, based on your goals.  Please use this site to gain important information about resources available in the community to meet physical, emotional and educational needs.  Feel free to contact a member of the Safety Net staff for more information.

And our own Mano Singham has an interesting article on arranged marriages you may care to peruse.

Image is the cover of Escape, which is photo of Carolyn Jessop on a black background. She cradles a framed picture of herself as an FLDS teenager in her hands. She is a woman in her thirties with chestnut hair and blue eyes.
I’m reviewing Escape chapter-by-chapter. Pick yourself up a copy if you’d like to follow along. The full list of reviews to date can be found here. Need a chaser? Pick up a copy of Really Terrible Bible Stories Volume 1: Genesis or Volume 2: Exodus today!


Trapped – Escape Chapter 5: “Linda’s Flight to Freedom”

One thought on “Trapped – Escape Chapter 5: “Linda’s Flight to Freedom”

  1. rq

    Not much of a freedom for Linda. And certainly, the ‘solution’ works wonders as a deterrent to others – basically sending the message that there is no real escape, ever. :(
    … Which essentially makes everything Carolyn Jessop does later in the book even more amazing. I can’t imagine having to overcome that psychological hurdle.

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