TLC’s new reality show Escaping the Prophet explores life in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or the FLDS, under the leadership of their prophet, convicted child molester Warren Jeffs. The show follows ex-FLDS members Flora Jessop, who was molested as a child by her father and has since worked to free people who are trapped in the FLDS. The show will follow her as she helps runaways cope with the consequences of leaving.
Jessop left the FLDS at sixteen, and shared her own way of moving on from the years of trauma. Speaking to HuffPost Live, Jessop said:
“A few years ago I walked up to my dad and thanked him for molesting me. I didn’t thank him because I enjoyed it. I thanked him because I look back on everything I’ve been through, and I decided that I was going to wrap it around me and embrace every memory, every act, all of it, and build myself out of those ashes.”
I seriously cannot imagine thanking a molester, but clearly spinning her trauma into a positive has worked for Jessop, and that’s remarkable. Her experience seems all too common for life in a clut, and she explained the systematic brainwashing that goes on inside the FLDS. For women, there’s the expectation to “have one baby per year to build your husband’s kingdom because he is going to be a god.”
In her world of subservient women, rampant abuse, and fear, there was simply no support system in place. Jessop couldn’t even look to the other subjugated women around her, since the environment cultivated competition and anger.
“The women are the enforcers. When you take all these women and you place them together and they share one man… the brutality on each other and each other’s children is insanity. So you learn to hate women.”
An environment that isolates the individual and allows no room to step out of line is a cornerstone of cult life, and it makes it that much harder for people to escape. Couple that with the fact that most of the women in FLDS have little to no education or vocational skills and that their families would shun them completely, and you’ve got a recipe for keeping people in place and never being able to make decisions about their own lives. That’s why support outside of cults, like Jessop provides, is so critical. I have a sick fascination with cults and a deep respect for people who help others escape, so I’ll definitely be watching Escaping The Prophet. Who wants to bring popcorn?
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