Polygamist Warren Jeffs’ Daughter Reveals What It Took to Escape His Cult
Cults are a particularly nasty thing. They prey on peoples insecurities and play an exceptional psychological game on the members. One such cult, Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, preyed upon women and children and forced them into polygamist marriages.
The leader of that cult was Warren Jeffs and his daughter, Rachel Jeffs, was able to escape and tell us what it was like to live under his rule and what it took to escape.
Living under Warren Jeffs
Warren Jeffs ruled his cult with an iron fist. During his reign, he managed to wed more than 50 women. He would use the teachings of the Mormonism and pervert them to gain power over his flock. Once he had them believing in eternal damnation, he could get them to do anything he wanted.
Warren had his first “plural” daughter with his second wife. That was Rachel Jeffs. She saw first hand how her father used the religion to hold power over the women in it.
The women had to ‘keep sweet’
Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints taught the members of the church that the women were to “keep sweet.” Rachel told Dateline “That’s how we kept heavenly father’s spirit.” It’s a rule that required all women to always smile and not get angry or jealous. Violating this rule would be met with extreme punishment from Jeffs.
Rachel was sexually abused by her father, Warren Jeffs for years
From the time Rachel was eight-years-old to the age of 16, her father sexually abused her. He would also show her pornography at bookstores. Ironically, this was something that Jeffs preached against. Rachel says that she was extremely confused because “It was so against his teachings, so against what he had taught us … And I just felt terrible.”
Rachel told her mother about the abuse
After a while and not knowing where to turn, she told her mother of the abuse. Her mother confronted Warren about the abuse shortly afterward. But because the church had its rules of the women keeping sweet, her mother’s objections were dismissed and nothing was done. Rachel ended up having to endure many more years of abuse.
Rachel Jeffs was forced into a polygamist marriage
At the age of sixteen, Rachel had reached her limit. She wrote a letter to her father begging for the abuse to stop. He actually complied, but at the same time, arranged for her to be married to another man with two other wives. She met her husband the day before they were to be wed. They eventually went on to have five children together.
The cult wouldn’t let her see her own children for seven months
Living on an isolated ranch afforded the cult to dictate punishments as they saw fit. In one case, Rachel was banished for seven months from seeing her children. Her only crime was having sex with her husband while she was pregnant. This was the final straw for Rachel that prompted her to begin her journey to freedom.
Rachel’s grandparents and other relatives saved her
Rachel and another sister of hers eventually had enough of the abuse from the cult. They banded together and organized an escape through her grandparents and some other relatives not affiliated with the church. The psychological abuse was so severe that Rachel says “It was so against our way of life that I almost felt guilty to be happy.”
Even after being put behind bars, Jeffs still ran the cult
Jeffs was actually arrested and jailed by the FBI. He was first put on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list and then subsequently charged for the abuse of the young women arranging marriages for women as young as 12-years-old.
Even though he was serving time, he was still able to issue edicts to his church and dull out punishments for perceived transgressions from some of the members. That is was happened when Rachel was banished from her own children.
‘… help other people be happy’
Rachel had one last little bit from her interview with Megan Kelly on Dateline for anyone going through any hardship:
No matter what situation they’re in, know that they can be strong and use any hard experience, they’re going to make their life better and help others. So often, if you help other people be happy, it helps you overcome your hardships and what you went through.
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