SALT LAKE CITY – Warren's nephew Jeff, Ian, is a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is one of many victims of abuse who escaped and was helped by Holding Out HELP, a program that helps people escape from abuses in polygamous cultures.
"When I was 15, I got fired from the community because I was talking to girls and I was sneaking out of the house to hang out with unapproved friends," Ian, whose last name was been retained, said to Dr. Phil in an episode that aired on Tuesday. "At that time, my father drove me to Salt Lake City and signed the proxy rights to a host family, said goodbye, and that was all. Essentially, my father has thrown me away. It was devastating for me.
Ian's story is quite typical of some male members of the FLDS church. He said that, like many other teens, he was used to child labor and eventually excommunicated for not following the rules closely.
"When I was in the FLDS, they did everything possible to wash my brain," he said. says Dr. Phil. "Warren told me that I was never good enough and that if I did not follow what he said, I would burn eternal misery without my family."
Ian was one of many former members of the FLDS church who was greeted by Tonia Tewell, who launched a program called Hold Out HELP. The mission of the non-profit association, listed on its website, states: "Holding Out HELP provides people from a polygamous culture with the resources to move from isolation to independence."
Tonia Tewell, Director of Holding Out HELP, said she serves between 150 and 250 people a year.
"A majority of those we serve come only with clothes on their backs, have not completed high school and are suffering from abuse," Tewell said. "We are working to provide a safe place where basic food, clothing, shelter and security needs are met and then prepare for their future with education, professional skills and advice."
Tewell recently participated in the Dr. Phil Show to discuss important cases with which they worked and help educate on sex trafficking and pedophilia among the sects of the FLDS. She explained that she and her husband had decided to launch Holding Out HELP because of an experience in which they had been invited to be part of the family of a six-year-old family. people in transition out of polygamy. They were very "shocked by the gravity of the situation".
Until Saturday, they helped "more than 1,700 men, women and children" to adapt to normal society and to recover from negative experiences in the FLDS church.
Rick Bowmer, Good Non Profit
Short chronology of the FLDS:
- In 1890, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints suspended the practice of polygamy, CNN reported. Members who continued to practice polygamy were excommunicated.
- Since 2002, Warren Jeffs has been the spiritual leader of the FLDS church, according to ABC. However, after the incarceration of Warren Jeff (see below), his brother, Lyle Jeffs, oversaw the FLDS business. Before Warren Jeffs became the leader, his father, Rulon T. Jeffs, was the group's prophet from 1986 to 2002.
- In 2011, Warren Jeffs was sentenced to life imprisonment for sexual assault of a child under the age of 14 and to 20 years for sexual assault of a child under the age of 17, reported CNN. Jeffs is thought to have more than 70 wives.
- "The FLDS has about 10,000 members, most of whom live in Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah," according to CNN. "The band also has followers near Eldorado, Texas, and in South Dakota, Colorado, Nevada, British Columbia, and Mexico."
- The FLDS regard their spiritual leader as a prophet of God. He celebrates marriages and controls the family life of members of the faith. It can "punish followers by" reassigning "their wives and children to other men," according to CNN.
- On February 23, 2016, Lyle Jeffs and 10 other FLDS members were indicted for fraud and money laundering, according to CNN. Lyle Jeffs was detained at home to await trial, but he withdrew his FBI tracking bracelet and ran away in June 2016. He was retaken in June 2017 and sentenced to 57 months imprisonment in federal prison for food voucher fraud and house arrest evasion.
- According to ABC, FLDS members still follow Warren Jeffs as their prophet, while he is in prison.
Rick Bowmer, Good Non Profit
As members of the FLDS, women face many challenges. They are given arranged marriages at a young age, often with men much older than them and whohey could be distantly related to, according to ABC News. Many report being sexually and physically abused in these relationships.
Holding Out HELP also helped a young woman named Marrilynn, who escaped abuse in his FLDS community. She said that she had started being sexually assaulted at the age of four or five "by family members, neighbors, and friends." She said that sometimes abuses occur "one at a time and sometimes in groups".
"Many times, it was said that it was what God wanted, and if you had been more obedient and submissive, it would not happen," said Marrilynn of Dr. Phil.
according to ABC, women should also wear prairie dresses and completely cover the body. They are also told not to cut their hair because they will need it "in heaven to wash the feet of men as anointing".
Helping Out HELP seeks to help these people recover from their abuse and learn to function in society.
"Our goal is to give them the skills they need to become autonomous and productive citizens in our society," said Tewell. "Unfortunately, when they leave, most of them lose everything and everyone they have known and we are told that aliens are evil and doomed to hell. So, they land at our door with very little hope. We assign a case manager and begin the rehab process. With the right support, they can and will succeed. "
Tewell added that it is not because an individual lives that polygamy is not an abuser or that he refuses to educate his children.
"Hold Out HELP does not get a number close to the number of freelancers (which means they do not belong to a specific group), unlike those who come from closed communities," said Tewell. "Closed communities often offer the possibility of abuse and neglect. because they do not have adequate checks and balances, there is no responsibility or rehabilitation. "
"When I was in the FLDS, they did everything possible to wash my brain. Warren told me that I was never good enough and that if I did not follow what he said, I would burn myself in eternal misery without my family. – Ian
Tewell said the only way to better protect these men, women and children would be to prosecute the perpetrators for their crimes.
"Keeping Out HELP is always looking for volunteers like tutors, mechanics, do-it-yourselfers, housing and cash donations," Tewell said. "It's thanks to our loyal supporters, especially here in Utah, that we can offer hope and healing."
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