When she was eighteen years old, Carolyn Jessop was coerced into an arranged marriage with a total stranger: a man thirty-two years her senior. Merril Jessop already had three wives. But arranged plural marriages were an integral part of Carolyn’s heritage: She was born into and raised in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), the radical offshoot of the Mormon Church. Over the next fifteen years, Carolyn had eight children and withstood her husband’s psychological abuse and the watchful eyes of his other wives, who were locked in a constant battle for supremacy.
Carolyn was miserable for years and wanted out, but she knew that if she tried to leave and got caught, her children would be taken away from her. But in 2003, Carolyn chose freedom over fear and fled her home with her eight children. Escape exposes a world tantamount to a prison camp, created by religious fanatics. Against this background, Carolyn Jessop’s flight takes on an extraordinary, inspiring power. She became the first woman ever granted full custody of her children in a contested suit involving the FLDS, and 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.