Stolen Innocence : My Story of Growing up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs
In September 2007, a packed courtroom in St. George, Utah, sat hushed as Elissa Wall, the star witness against polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs, gave captivating testimony of how Jeffs forced her to marry her first cousin at age fourteen. This harrowing and vivid account proved to be the most compelling evidence against Jeffs, showing the harsh realities of this closed community and the lengths to which Jeffs went in order to control the sect's women.
Now, in this courageous memoir, Elissa Wall tells the incredible and inspirational story of how she emerged from the confines of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and helped bring one of America's most notorious criminals to justice. Offering a child's perspective on life in the FLDS, Wall discusses her tumultuous youth, explaining how her family's turbulent past intersected with her strong will and identified her as a girl who needed to be controlled through marriage. Detailing how Warren Jeffs's influence over the church twisted its already rigid beliefs in dangerous new directions, Wall portrays the inescapable mind-set and unrelenting pressure that forced her to wed despite her repeated protests that she was too young.
Once she was married, Wall's childhood shattered as she was obligated to follow Jeffs's directives and submit to her husband in "mind, body, and soul." With little money and no knowledge of the outside world, she was trapped and forced to endure the pain and abuse of her loveless relationship, which eventually pushed her to spend nights sleeping in her truck rather than face the tormentor in her bed.
Yet even in those bleak times, she retained a sliver of hope that one day she would find a way out, and one snowy night that came in the form of a rugged stranger named Lamont Barlow. Their chance encounter set in motion a friendship and eventual romance that gave her the strength she needed to break free from her past and sever the chains of the church.
But though she was out of the FLDS, Wall would still have to face Jeffs--this time in court. In Stolen Innocence, she delves into the difficult months on the outside that led her to come forward against him, working with prosecutors on one of the biggest criminal cases in Utah's history, so that other girls still inside the church might be spared her cruel fate.
More than a tale of survival and freedom, Stolen Innocence is the story of one heroic woman who stood up for what was right and reclaimed her life.
Showing 1-6 of the 6 most recent reviews
1 . Absolutely riveting
Posted November 11, 2011 by Alex C. , San Rafael, CAI LOVED this book. I literally sat down to start reading it, and got up about 4 hours later. I would've sat there and read it all the way through in one sitting, but I had class. I came back, read for about 4 more hours, then had an appointment. I finished the rest of it last night and this morning. I found myself held up with suspense, incredibility at the FLDS, and needing to know what happened next. So much compassion was raised up in me, and I just felt tied to the book. Everything is stated so simply, and it's crazy to believe it actually happened. I liked seeing the pictures, b/c by that time, I was entrenched with the characters, and wanted to see who I was reading about. The book made me want to Google more to learn about Elissa, Warren Jeffs, and that community. It's kind of mind-boggling the reality they grow-up with and I can't stop thinking about it. You should definitely read this book!
2 . Wow!
Posted June 07, 2011 by Abby , Vancouver, BCI read this book with a kind of horrid facination in the life of polygamy. As an outsider, I was totally dumb struck how these people could be so blindly led into such a lifestyle. But after reading Wall's explanations of how this life is totally ingrained since birth... why would they ever question something so totally foreign to them. I got really quite disturbed with other reviewer's comments, discounting the fact that these women didn't know about sex and what happens in a marital bed because they went to school. Do you think Warren Jeffs and his cronies would ever let one of his followers (especially a girl) go off to school if the word sex was ever to be brought up! Or, a town whose life and financial ties depended on the good will of the FLDS... do you these they would even want to bring up the subject? I read this book with many emotions rolling through me. Sadness... because these people were so brainwashed into believing that they, and they alone will be God's chosen ones. Shock... that something like this is still happening in today's society. And because of the naysayers who didn't want to believe that this story could actually have a shred of truth to it; believing that Wall would consent to a marriage at "14" to a man she basically hated; rape and torture...to lose children through still birth and miscarriage and all through that...have a smile on her face and play nice!!! Rage... at the men who exploited these young children, in the name of religion. Wall's mother...who was supposed to be her protector. And finally, justice that Warren jeffs got what he so righly deserved. I praise Wall's for her courage by coming forth and teling the world her deepest and darkest secrets... of her shame and despair. To the naysayers... walk a mile in Wall's shoes (as a polygamist) and tell me you still fee the same afterwards!!!
3 . Great Book
Posted February 13, 2011 by Shelley , San JoseThis book had me captivated from beginning to end. If you liked "Escape" by Carolyn Jessop, then you should definitely read this!
4 . Excellent
Posted December 30, 2010 by Amber , ManitobaThis book is an excellent read. Tells the story of Elissa, her triumphs and tribulations. As I was unable to stop turning the pages, I felt for Elissa. This book has changed my views greatly and my empathies for the women of this culture. Thank you Elissa!
5 . Amazing story!
Posted January 23, 2010 by Linda , Corona CAWhat courage! What perserverance! Disturbing what little voice women have in that culture..thankfully she could stand up in court to protect her "little sisters"..
Great story...I wish her well!
6 . Riveting
Posted January 23, 2010 by Patti , Richmond VAElissa is funny, witty and engaging amongst a backdrop of unimaginable heartache cruelty and emotional pain. An incredible journey told in a strong voice by an amazing woman. As her story unfolds its easy to forget that for most of it she was just a child.
June 15, 2008
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