These Women Took Life Threatening Risks in Order to Escape Polygamy

Polygamy, or having more than one husband or wife, is a practice used around the United States. Polygamy can involve girls under the age of 18 getting married to much older men.

These women risked their lives to leave polygamy. Learn how they escaped, then check out this chilling fact about the future of polygamy (on page 6).

Lynette escaped solitary confinement barefoot


Lynette Warner escaped through a window. | Joe_Potato/iStock/Getty Images

After marrying Warren Jeffs, at the age of 18, Lynette Warner lived in “houses of hiding” for years. Forced into solitary confinement when Jeffs went to prison, Lynette’s brother acted as her jailer, according to Broadly. She escaped through a window she had unscrewed and ran from the trailer in Colorado City, Arizona, to the neighboring city town of Hildale, Utah.

Hint: Money in child support helps one family escape.

Alyssa and her family had 15 minutes to escape

typing on a keyboard

Alyssa Bistline and her family managed to buy phones and a laptop. | Urupong/iStock/Getty Images

Alyssa Bistline and her family are able to escape because her mother saves money from child support she’s supposed to give to the FLDS. They eventually buy phones and a laptop. “The very first thing we did was get on the internet and search ‘FLDS escapees,’” Bistline told Teen Vogue. With the help of a lawyer, Bistline and her family escape in the middle of the night during a 15-minute gap when no one would see them leave. “We had to time it just right,” Bistine said.

Hint: An unsupervised trip to the bathroom allowed one woman to escape.

Flora escaped only to be taken back

Empty Public Bathroom Stalls

Flora Jessop first escaped during an unsupervised bathroom trip. | Joe_Potato/iStock/Getty Images

At the age of 13, Flora Jessop, escaped polygamy during an unsupervised trip to the bathroom but ends up back at home shortly after. Then, at 16, Jessop’s marriage to her first cousin allowed her to be legally emancipated, and able to leave her parents, according to her book, Church of Lies.

Hint: Woman becomes the first to beat FLDS in court.

Carolyn’s emergency surgery inspired her escape

Carolyn Jessop went through an emergency hysterectomy. |

For Carolyn Jessop, pregnancy becomes dangerous after the birth of her fourth child. She went on to have four more children, and eventually had an emergency hysterectomy, according to her book, Escape. The experience gave her the courage to escape and in 2003, Jessop became the first woman to win sole custody of her children in a case against a member of the FLDS.

Hint: Should we be worried about the future of polygamy?

Polygamy is accepted more now than ever before

three people

More Americans have accepted polygamy. | igor_kell/iStock/Getty Images

More Americans today accept polygamy than in 2001, according to a 2015 Gallup poll. From 2001 to 2015, the acceptance rate increased from 7 percent in 2001 to 16 percent in 2015

Hint: Polygamy may be legal sooner than you think.

Polygamy may be legal in 20 years

Amanda Seyfried and Aaron Paul look at each other in Big Love.

HBO drama Big Love brought more awareness to polygamy. | HBO

Ross Douthat, a columnist for the New York Times, predicts polygamy could be legal in 2040. The popularity of the HBO drama, Big Love, and the TLC reality show, Sister Wives may be aiding in legalization along with Americans’ views becoming more liberal.

Hint: This leader runs FLDS from prison.

Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Warren Jeffs

Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, was convicted of child sexual assault. | Douglas C. Pizac-Pool/Getty Images

This polygamist church, known as the “FLDS,” has an estimated 10,000 members, according to CNN. FLDS is known for forcing underage girls to marry older men. The leader of the FLDS, Warren Jeffs, is supposedly still running the cult from prison, according to Newsweek. The women who escaped, all fled the FLDS. Read their stories, next.

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Read more: The Craziest Cults You’ve Never Heard Of