Monday, December 31, 2007


Title: Escape
Author: Carolyn Jessop
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd

Eight pages in to Carolyn Jessop’s book “Escape,” her true life account of her life and flight from the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) religious group, and my jaw was aching from constantly hanging open in shock.

An unflinching inside look into the world of this secretive sect, Jessop candidly reveals everyday happenings that are tantamount to domestic violence and abuse in mainstream society. Girls as young as fourteen being married off to men in their eighties, polygamist marriages, and severe physical punishment of children and wives – all of this and much more is not only acceptable but endorsed by the prophet, the leader of their community.

It is from this bizarre and brutal world that Jessop, one of eight married to a high ranking FLDS leader, makes the decision to escape from - at age 35 having not known any other way to live and spending her lifetime being conditioned to believe the world outside their sheltered community is evil and trying to destroy the FLDS group. Jessop will become the only woman at that time to escape the community and retain custody of all her children (she has eight children out of her husbands total of more than fifty.)

I found myself often dumbfounded with appal and shock during the reading of this book; while I always try to be open minded I found many of the practices and beliefs of this group mind boggling in the extreme. The behaviour and treatment of women and children staggered me; it felt like their community had regressed into a dark ages type mentality and many of these women lived lives full of fear and horror.

I was also struck by the courage and determination of the author, Carolyn Jessop, and many other women in the sect and the huge emotional and physical risks they took every day to keep themselves and their children safe.

Escape by Carolyn Jessop is a gripping insight into a life of fear and control at the hands of a religious group hell bent on excluding contact with the outside world. It is also a powerful testament to a mother’s love for her children and her determination to carve a life for them outside of this damaging and dangerous cult.

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