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Carolyn Jessop      

Polygamist Survivor & Author of "Escape"

The first woman in the country to escape from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) and be granted full custody of her eight children, Carolyn Jessop’s story has become a model of courage and hope to people everywhere. She co-authored the book Escape, which will be turned into a movie starring Katherine Heigl, chronicling her life in the organization, her adulthood and disillusionment, and her eventual flight.

Coerced into marrying a stranger at 18 years old, a stranger who was 32 years her senior and already had three wives, Jessop lived a life of misery and fear. Her every move was dictated by her husband's whims. He decided where she lived and how her children would be treated. He controlled the money she earned as a schoolteacher. He chose when they had sex; Jessop could only refuse—at her peril. For in the FLDS, a wife's compliance with her husband determined how much status both she and her children held in the family. Over the next 15 years, Carolyn had eight children and withstood her husband's psychological abuse and the watchful eyes of his other wives until she made the decision to escape. She risked everything, knowing that her children would be taken away from her and she would probably be declared mentally unstable and sent to an institution if caught. Still, Jessop chose freedom over fear and fled with her eight children and only $20 to her name.

In 2006, her reports to the Utah Attorney General on church abuses formed a crucial part of the case that led to the arrest of its notorious leader, Warren Jeffs. After publishing her autobiography, Escape, in 2007 she went on a book tour of the US, telling her story to thousands. Jessop speaks out as an example that if she can manage a daring escape from a brutal environment it is possible for others. Her flight has taken on an extraordinary, inspiring power that motivates thousands to change and better their lives.

Speech Topics

FLDS, Polygamy & Abuse

Empowerment & Taking Back Your Life

Escaping from Life in a Polygamous Family




Ex-polygamist wife reveals life - Video on
Video on April 8: Carolyn Jessop, who was one of the wives of a polygamist-sect leader, talks with TODAY's Matt Lauer about life on a ...

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