I am reading Elissa Wall’s Stolen Innocence. This book, written by the woman who put Warren Jeffs behind bars (he forced her to marry her nineteen-year-old cousin when she was only fourteen years old), reveals a childhood of faith, fear, and denial. I’m reminded of the ultimate abuse in polygamist families: the need to deny who you are in order to protect your family. This terrible choice between individuality and loyalty becomes fertilizer for all other abuses, creating a culture of cruelty. For instance, a man (such as Elissa’s father) cannot reach out for help our counseling regarding his family problems without incurring the judgment of the state and/or the “prophet.” A woman (such as Elissa’s mother) cannot go to the powers that be for help in correcting an unfair situation without incurring the wrath of her husband and sisterwives. And the children always pay the price of their parents’ ‘indiscretion’. It’s a social conspiracy designed to lock members in and keep the world out. But these dialectics describe most abusive households. In the confines of the abusive family, the abused engage in self-denial in order to feed the ego-driven needs of the abuser who stands at odds with the world. The question facing Texas is: how can we keep these subcultures open and honest? Got any ideas?
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