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Escape from Polygamy

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Momlogic's interview with the mother who escaped Warren Jeffs and his polygamous sect. 


The polygamy raid has left the country wondering, what will happen to the kids and whether the moms are to blame. Kathy Jo Nicholson, 37, was raised by her father and his three wives--along with a dozen siblings--before walking out the door and never looking back. Kathy unveils the secret life in a polygamous sect and gives us insight into the meaning behind the dresses and hair, "bleeding the beast" and whether the Moms could be at fault. 

Momlogic: What's the story behind those dresses?
Kathy: The women are required to wear long clothing that covers them from head to toe. It's a matter of modesty, plus it strips everybody of their individuality.

They consider hair to be a woman's crowning glory, and you're not allowed to cut it. That stemmed back from the story of Mary washing Jesus' feet with her hair. Warren Jeffs told us that wearing makeup--or, as he put it, "painting our faces like the savages"--desecrated the temple God had given us.

We grew up outside Salt Lake City, near a junior high, and my sister and I peered through the drapes at the kids walking home from school with their feathered hair (this was back in the '80s) and their makeup, just chit-chatting.

We would come up with these elaborate storybook fantasies that we would act out in the privacy of our room. We longed to be them.

Momlogic: How did the women obtain money?
Kathy: When I was growing up, most of the women collected welfare. It was called "bleeding the beast." The women who aren't legally married to their husbands and have children are technically single women with children, so they collect more benefits. 

Momlogic: Should the moms get their kids back?
Kathy: I think they should be given one more chance. These women are terrorized. They don't have the knowledge to feed and grow their minds, or make the right decisions. 

But they must change. The children cannot go back into that compound and they can't be given back to these women until they seek help. My heart bleeds for the mothers, but my interest is for the children.

Do you think they should get their kids back?

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9 comments so far | Post a comment now
nuffsaid April 26, 2008, 4:48 PM

These people are brainwashed by the cult they were deceived by. They woun’t know right from wrong till they have been given independence and the ability to make a living for themselves.

Many of them have never experienced life outside the gates. Their will has been shaped completely by the agenda of someone else wanting to exploit them.

The us vs the evil out there, has to be first overcome before they have the ability to reason without undo influence.

BM April 27, 2008, 2:53 PM

Freaky people

miche April 27, 2008, 5:06 PM

Those women definately need to be counseled and have some help before they get their children back. THe kids need to experience what being a kid is all about in the real world.

valarie April 29, 2008, 4:55 AM

Yeah well, if these kids are being sent to typical foster homes, it’s not exactly an ideal example of what our free and modern world has to offer to kids. It seems to me, these kids’ first experience in the outside world will be exactly what their elders warned them about: sexual predation, indifference from their caretakers, and physical violence from the other wards of the state (children), because that’s what our overworked and underfunded foster care system is like.

Ruth May 5, 2008, 9:42 AM

Reading the book “Escape” the horror is that, for the men, under the guise of religion, it is about sex and they do treat women horribly and so controlling it is sickening. Hope really good foster homes were chosen for those children! Also hope the “sister wives” get help.

Raven July 3, 2008, 2:04 PM

Can i have more info on that book Ruth? Whos it by?

Lori July 10, 2008, 1:03 PM

Why weren’t the women offered refuge in a battered women’s shelter? Maybe if they were in a place that could give them counseling and teach them about the modern world, perhaps they could change and escape the shackled life of the compound.

udi December 16, 2008, 3:15 PM

I am not familiar with the details of this particular case but from what I can read here, a more appropriate title for this post may have been escape from cult. the extreme brainwashing and control is a feature of belonging to a strong religion or cult and not of the marriage arrangement.

as far as the children’s futures are concerned, the questions is not whether the mothers should get a second chance but whether the children should. the children have suffered a form of abuse and the standard procedures of assessment/evaluation/decision need to be carried out on a per child basis. most children in these cases are probably better off with their mums but this is not always true. let’s hope that whoever decides the kid’s (all abuse victims) future is wise and compassionate and has the resources to do what is in the children’s best interests.

carole January 14, 2009, 6:41 AM

its a cult, not the only one, females are brainwashed from birth that this is what there life is all about. lower than man, mans slave, sound familiar? They need to be kept away from these kind of people, to be shown what life should be about, they have brains, they have beauty and its a threat to the man in these cults. they wants slaves, not wives.

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