Day 10, Reference, December 8, 2010

DAY 10, Reference, December 8, 2010

Dear Network,

Get a cup of coffee, tea or even a stiff drink, because this is long and heart-wrenching.  Four videos were shown today: Rena Mackert, Teressa Wall, Sara Hammon, and Kathleen Mackert.  Kathleen and Rena Mackert are full-blood sisters, members of the Steering Committee for Stop Polygamy in Canada, and were with me today in court.

RENA MACKERT is the thirteenth child in birth order of her father and mother, Clyde & Myra Mackert—Myra was Clyde’s third wife.  In the 1953 Raid on Short Creek (now Hildale, Ut/Colorado City, AZ) Rena’s father was arrested and charged with unlawful co-habitation.  The FLDS were then referred to as “The Group” or “The Saints”  All her father had to do to get out of jail was to sign a paper saying he would no longer cohabitate with more than one woman.  He signed having no intention of following the order.

Rena had severe ear infections when she was three as she came down with measles, mumps and chickenpox all at the same time.  She was not given medical attention and lost her hearing in her right ear because her mother did not have enough faith that she would be healed when she was given a priesthood blessing.

Rena’s father had converted to the “faith.”  He was a school teacher.  He had four wives who were all educated—four generations of school teachers.  There were 31 children altogether in the family.  When the children attended school, they had to be quiet about their family.  If they said anything and their father ended up arrested, it would be their fault.  Rena said she was an adult before she realized that it was his responsibility if he got in trouble with the law, not the children’s. 

Rena was rebellious from a very early age.  We were God’s chosen but we couldn’t tell anyone.  We grew up with so many disparities.  They raise liars.  It takes a long, long time to reprogram yourself. 

Rena’s relationship with her father was very, very challenging.  She was three years old the first time she was molested by him.  They were on a camping trip and he forced her to perform oral sex on him.  When she cried and threw up, he spanked her and told her she was a bad girl and if she didn’t stop crying, he would spank her again.  So, she believed she was a bad, evil girl who was going to go to hell from a very early age.  The molestation lasted until she was 17, just before she got married.

She was forced to marry her step-brother who was her dad’s fourth wife’s son by a previous marriage.  The prophet LeRoy Johnson (sp?) said she was to marry him.  She hated him and he hated her.  He did let her finish high school.  She was the only one of her father’s daughters to finish high school.

When Rena was a teen, she had acted up and got negative attention from her father by being either back-handed or he took a belt to her. 

She was married for five years.  She had three children in those five years.  Her husband wanted out of the marriage.  They were divorced.  Her husband left the faith.  She was moved into a tiny, cinder-block house near her father so they could keep an eye on her.  Rena was told by LeRoy Johnson that she had to marry his brother Orville who was in his late fifties and Rena was 22. 

Rena told Johnson about the sexual abuse she had suffered by her father.  Johnson called her a liar and told her she had the spirit of apostasy.  Rena told him to go to hell and to fuck off.  She had a job cocktailing.  Her husband had started taking her to bars when she was nineteen.  She went to her father’s to pick up her children after a night of cocktailing and was told by her father that she didn’t have any children because she had apostatized.  She was told by her mother that she should have never been born, she was such a disgrace to the family. 

It was eleven months and after an attorney who she met in one of the clubs she sang in told her that she had a legal right to custody of her children before she went back in the middle of the night with a sheaf of legal papers to claim her children.  They had been told that their mother didn’t want them anymore.

Her children had also been chided by other children in the FLDS that they were going to go to hell because their mother had apostatized.

All seven of her mother’s children have left the FLDS.

When asked what it was like for the women, Rena said that there was always a lot of tension between the wives.  Myra and Donna were sisters married to the same man.  When sisters marry the same man, their relationship as sisters is murdered.  The life of a woman was to pop out as many babies as you can, working very hard so you’ll be called a good woman.  Sister wives used severe punishment on children of other wives.  So the children had to become creatures who could morph to the different personalities and moods of the other mothers.

When I got out, I had no clue how to function in the real world.

Rena started drinking when she was 17.  She developed a drug addition in 1996.  She has overcome both.  It was a way for her to numb out.  She is still fighting negatives. 

The FLDS preach from the pulpit that you can beat a child nigh unto death for simple disobedience. 

What the YFZ mothers don’t understand is that when you force your daughter to marry so young, you are throwing them away to be raped.  They throw 12 & 13 year-old boys out and never look back.   The media circus around the YFZ raid was very orchestrated. 

In 1953, my father became the Poster Man for the FLDS.  He was a pedophile with four educated wives.  The picture on the front of “Life” magazine is of him and his big family.  Myra was pregnant with Rena in the picture.  There had been a raid in 1944 that did not get the media attention that the 1953 raid did.

 

TERESSA WALL

Teressa Wall was born August 23, 1980 in Hildale, Utah.  She was the second child of the second wife of her father.  The first wife had eight children, her mother had 14.  The first wife was very abusive to Teressa’s mother. 

We worked the hardest and had to live in the basement of the house. 

Teressa cannot remember much of her childhood.  The oldest boy took a lot of abuse.  He was kicked out of the house when he was 17 or 18.  The last Teressa saw of him, he was hitchhiking.  He had been the one to work and bring in the food for their family.  He bought shoes and fabric for sewing.  The next oldest boy took on this role once his brother was gone. 

Teressa was deemed “rebellious” and sent to Canada when she was twelve.  She lived in Canada in her uncle’s house.  She did not get along with her father and stuck up for her younger siblings.  When she was 13, she was forced into a meeting with Rulon Jeffs who was then the prophet.  Two of her sisters were already married to Rulon.  She swore she would not speak in the meeting.  She was on meds for pain.  In the meeting she was pressured to marry Rulon Jeffs.  She said she would rather die than marry him.  He was over 80 years old.

She was banned from the property and sent to Sundre, Alberta to work in a Blackmore owned logging company.  She worked in sub-zero temperatures putting logs into a fence poster.  She was not given proper clothing to wear—no coat, no gloves.  John Blackmore was one of the crew bosses. 

She said she looked forward to the year 2000 because that would be the end of the world and she was so bad she was going to hell anyway.  She believed she was nowhere near righteous enough to be saved. 

She was not in Canada legally.  Each week when she was working in the pulp mill, Winston Blackmore would tell her she could end all this by getting married.  Finally, at 17, she was trapped into a corner to get married to Roy Blackmore who was only a few months older than her.  She had children before she wanted to.

For education, she only completed grade 8 at the Alta Academy in Salt Lake City.  She had so many aspirations but never achieved them.  At Alta Academy the girls took a child development class.  They were told that it was their only mission in life to have as many children as they could.  They had no choice in the matter.  They must obey the priesthood.  They only reason for not having children was if there was something wrong with them and they couldn’t.  Girls were married at 15-16, some younger.

Winston wanted to marry them off young before they could develop a mind of their own.  She explained the weekly Barbeque parties at Winston’s where each week a boy/man would walk over and  take the hand of the girl he was to marry.  She was terrified that someone was going to walk over to her.

They were taught that boys were like snakes and to stay away from them, but then when they were married they had to surrender everything to them.

Jane Blackmore saw all these young, terrified girls having babies but she was afraid to let anyone older know. 

When Teressa was 17, Winston told her to get married or get out.  She had no family in the States to take her in because they had given up on her.  She was terrified of the outside world.  She was trapped into marrying Roy.

Everything seemed like a blur to her.  She got up, got dressed, was crying, walked with Roy to Winston’s where Warren Jeffs performed the marriage.  Then she went with Roy back to Sundre to be a crew cook.  Roy was still working at the logging operation.  Before getting married, they got $80 every two weeks.  After they got married, they got $1,000 a month. 

Winston was the one who lined couples up.  Winston was the one who kept drilling her on getting married.  He is a very vain, self-centered person, so it  didn’t help his ego when I kept saying no.

I was such an embarrassment because I always asked questions.  I wasn’t a bad kid.  I didn’t drink, do drugs, but I also didn’t bow to the priesthood pressure.

It was a feather in Winston’s hat to have me married off.  It made him look good to Warren.

I was given choices on who I would marry and that just doesn’t happen!  I would have been given great prestige if I had married Winston because I would have been the bishop’s wife.  But I didn’t want prestige.

Now Winston’s wives live in poverty.  Two of them have been married in a lesbian marriage so they can claim child tax credits. 

In answer to the question about how men get other wives, Teressa said it was different in every instance.  Her father had converted into FLDS.  He abused her mother miserably.  Her mother went to church to complain about the abuse and was told that they needed her father’s money.  He was very educated and had a lot of money.  He even did contracts for NASA.

Her mother had been born into the FLDS.  Her father gave everything he had to the church and his family struggled to eat.  When her father was no longer an asset to the church, they took her mother away and sent her to her father’s ranch with the children.  They were loaded up in the middle of the night and taken away.  Teressa still does not know where the ranch is for sure. 

Teressa was in Canada when her mother was taken away to Fred Jessop to be married to him.  She went with five of her children.  Twin boys were left behind in Salt Lake City.  They ran away.  Her younger sister, Elissa, was treated pretty badly as were all of the children.  Elissa was supposed to be married when she was 13.  Teressa phoned her and told her not to do it.  Elissa was finally forced to marry her double first cousin, Allan Steed.

Elissa phoned Teressa crying that her husband was forcing himself on her.  Teressa arranged for Elissa to come to Canada for a visit.  While here she had a terrible, painful miscarriage.  She was in Canada without her husband and was forced to return to him.  Allan was physically, sexually and mentally abusive to Elissa.  So much so that her mother intervened and went to Warren to complain.  Warren ordered her mother to keep away from Elissa and not interfere in her marriage. 

Truman Barlow was typically the next in line to be prophet but Warren took over in 2002.  Warren soon broadcast that Winston was no longer a bishop.  Winston couldn’t handle being defrocked and split from the group with his followers.  Richard Blackmore was asked to be bishop, but said he didn’t want it and followed Winston.  Then Jimmie Oler was appointed.

Teressa’s husband, Roy Blackmore stayed on Warren’s side.  One day she let some of Winston’s children into her home.  Roy was furious and told her that her children could be taken away for doing that.  Everyone on Warren’s side had to have a picture of him hanging in their home.  They had to get up at 5 in the morning for classes that were taped by Warren and again the classes had to be held in the evening.  The dress code changed for women, sleeves to wrist not mid-arm like before, thick, hot polyester up to neck and down to ankles.  Their hair had to be done a certain way. 

I never put the front of my hair in a wave like I was supposed to.  I just wouldn’t do it!

There is a lot of movement between the FLDS groups in Salt Lake City, Colorado City and Bountiful.  Canada was “reform school” for the kids.  Winston’s father Ray was bishop of Bountiful at one time.  No bishop in Salt Lake City—Rulon Jeffs was the prophet there until Warren took over. 

Growing up, we were terrified of our neighbours.  We had nothing to do with them.  We were terrified that our father would get arrested. 

I had no life skills on how to deal with the real world.  Teressa did not tell her children to fear others but they were told by others in the community.

Teressa Wall continued after the lunch break.

She completed only 8th grade in Alta Academy.  When she was sent to Bountiful, she was not allowed to enrol in school there.  She was not even allowed to take the home schooling offered in Creston.

After they married, Roy was afraid of anything she did that could be deemed questionable.  She enrolled in some classes in town but it caused too much fighting and turmoil.  She thinks Roy had wanted to graduate, too, but Winston said the boys would get more education working.

Everyone worked for a company that was owned by the FLDS—J.R. Blackmore & Sons, and Oler Bros. Logging that was run by Ken Oler.  They were told that apostates were worse than gentiles (a gentile is anyone who is not FLDS).  Once a person apostatized, they could no longer have any contact with anyone in the group. 

Roy came home one day to say that they were no longer married and the children were not theirs and Roy believed it.  Roy thought they could read his mind and know what he was doing even when they were not there.  He wanted Teressa to write letters of repentance.   Teressa played the game for about a year but each letter had to be followed by another letter. 

Teressa had had enough.  She packed up her kids in the KIA and left.  She went down to Payette.  She had planned from the year 2000 to leave.  She was helped by her brother who wanted her to influence as many people as she could. 

In answer to what were her fears now about the FLDS.  The first fear she listed was that girls in FLDS are being married off too young, some getting married as young as 11 or twelve.  One of her own fears had been for her own daughter(s).  Teressa had questioned what the children were taught and she had been called a virus that was spreading.  She said she and Roy had lived in desperate, wretched places with no heat.  In one trailer, she and the children slept by the open oven door in the dead of winter in Alberta.

There had been plenty of discussion about Roy taking another wife; and, Teressa had turned the tables and asked him how he would feel if she took another husband.  Roy would get all frustrated and remind her of the “Law of Sarah.” 

Teressa had lost contact with her mother a year before she left because she helped Elissa put the prophet in jail.  Her mother told her that she was dead to her.  She received a note from her mother saying she was praying for her death. 

Of the fourteen children in her immediate family, only five are still in the FLDS.  The first year after she left was very hard.  She got a job as a waitress and had to learn to talk to people.

SARA HAMMON

Her father was Jonathan Marion Hammon.  She has 74 bros and sis.  Her oldest sister is old enough to be her grandmother.  She had no relationship with her father.  They lived on a ten-acre property with other older siblings in separate homes with their families on the property.  Her father didn’t know her name or that she was his child. 

The children always ran away when they saw their father coming.  One of the mothers noticed this and told them to line up to give him a hug when they saw him and tell him their name.  Her father came home and they lined up to give him a hug, but some of them were his grandchildren and he told them to all go home.  Sara was toward the end of the line and went up to give him a hug.  He told her he had said for her to go home.  He didn’t know she was his daughter and she was standing about twenty feet away from their front door.

Sara talked a little about the history of the FLDS, that it was a term that had come along later.  They believed that the mainstream Mormons were the ones who went astray and that they lived the real teachings of Mormonism. 

She talked about all the chores they had to do.  It took hours to do the dishes.  One would wash, one would rinse, one would dry and one would put away.  They had dishwashers but they couldn’t keep up to over 30 people eating at every meal. 

Turning yourself over applied to girls who were marriageable age.  They had to turn themselves over to the priesthood to be married. 

There used to be a priesthood council until the 1986 split.  That’s when Centennial Park was created by the people who left the FLDS—an argument over how the council should be run and who would be the next prophet, Johnson or Jeffs.  Sara’s family stayed with the Jeffs people. 

When asked if she knew the term “one mighty and strong”, Sara said she thought it referred to God or something scary.

After the split, all the children still went to the same school until Centennial Park built its own school.

Sara said that the men would compare one wife with another and the children would compare moms.  Her mother had a number of nervous breakdowns.  Moms treated their own birth children differently and took out their frustrations on other wives’ children. 

At school, a picture of LeRoy the prophet was hung on the wall.  School books were edited.  Sara went to eighth grade.  They were not allowed to date.  Boys were to be kept at arm’s length.  It was her father who started the more rigid dress codes.  When it came to marriage, placement was expected.  There was no choice at all. 

Sara wanted to get away from the abuse—physical, sexual, emotional, mental—saw her mother suffer many nervous breakdowns due to her lifestyle.  Sara didn’t want to be married to some creepy old man.  At fourteen, she wanted to get out.

Sara wanted more control over her life:  she had so few choices, had to decide if she was going to stay in and be miserable like her mother or get out.  But she was terrified of going out into the world, but she saw so many women with 8, 10, or so children who were so broken down.  She said she heard someone say that sexual abuse is necessary to break women down, to break their soul.  Women had to be obedient to the men and to the prophet.

Sara left when she was 16.  It was really scary.  She didn’t belong here and she didn’t belong there.  Just because she made the choice to leave, her relationship with her family was severed. 

Sara talked about child brides and lost boys.  Girls cannot be friends with boys because some old man might want them, boys can’t be friends with girls because they may not end up with a wife.  There are victims everywhere.  Some boys are damned just because of bad math. 

In FLDS there is more of a tendency for incest.  Step-siblings abusing siblings.  Step-brothers are more abusive than full brothers.  Every woman out there knows another woman who has been sexually abused.  Many, many women have nervous breakdowns. 

Sara had 11 mothers!  She has trouble developing close relationships with people.  In FLDS you feel like a number instead of a person. 

When she was growing up, the boys had full range of the yard, the girls had half.  There was a post that marked the line the girls could not cross.  Sara and her sister crossed over into one of the granaries.  Her brother sexually assaulted her sister.  He locked them in the granary.  It was meal time before anyone noticed they were missing. 

KATHLEEN MACKERT

Kathleen is Rena’s younger sister.  Their family had been in polygamy since it first began under Joseph Smith.  Each generation has become more abusive than the last.  There was a continuous environment of abuse, either by back hand or the belt.

I can’t put a timeline on the first time I was abused “that way”.  Kathleen remembers being sexually abused by her father when she was five years old—he made her perform oral sex on him.  When she was six, she tried to kill herself by taking a bottle of aspirins because she was willing to go to hell for killing herself to get away from the hurt and the pain.  Her mother found her and the empty aspirin bottle and put her finger down her throat to make her throw up.  When her mother asked her why she ate the aspirins she lied and said she liked the taste of them.

She decided to grow up and not try to kill herself anymore.  When she was 17 she warned her father not to touch her again. 

Kathleen observed her older sisters in their marriages and how miserable they were.  She knew there was no plan for her but to be a mother.  At 14 girls started their hope chests.  If a woman couldn’t have children, that meant she was cursed.  You grow up with the concept that even if you are a first wife eventually you are going to have to accept another.  You are valued only for one thing, not as a person.  Her oldest sisters—twins—were married at 16 to an old man and couldn’t have any children. 

I had no control over my destiny.

The priesthood had ranks of righteousness and you had value if you married a man of considerable righteousness.  Men often marry a mother and her daughter. 

My sister Rena married someone she hated and he hated her.  It broke her and it terrified me. 

The concept of heaven is that you will be eternally pregnant with no love, that you’ll pop out spirit babies one after another to go into the mortal bodies of the people who will populate the world that your husband will be god of. 

I used to have a nightmare of being strapped into a breeding stall and always pregnant with no love. 

I couldn’t talk to my mother because she would reinstate the religious teachings.  I didn’t feel close to my mother at all. 

When I was a toddler, my mother went back to work.  Mother Donna babysat me.  I never saw my mother at all.  Mother told me the story of how one evening she came home from work and I heard her and climbed out of my crib to go to her.  She was rocking me when my father came in and told my mother to spank me and put me back to bed to teach me obedience.  She had to spank me thirteen times before I would stay in my crib. 

Kathleen wanted to erase herself.  She would hide under the table and watch the others.  She grew up feeling illegitimate because they had to use her father’s middle name as their last name—Chapman.  She grew up with the fear of the great destruction.  It was terrible growing up with the fear of being destroyed by God, being destroyed by what her father was doing to her. 

There were no Christmases, no birthdays.  Someone brought them a Christmas tree when Kathleen was a small child.  Her father let it stay outside and die.  Kathleen watched it die and felt like she was dying as well. 

Kathleen was very frightened when it came time to think about marriage.  Rena had been beautiful but was labelled rebellious because she didn’t want to marry an old man.  Girls were awakened at 2-3 in the morning to be told who they would marry.  It was a control tactic to bring them out of a deep sleep and tell them.  A week past her 18th birthday (she was considered an old maid) she was awakened at about 2:30 in the morning and taken to a room where her four mothers were sitting and there was a chair in the middle of the room for her.  She was told she was going to marry her step-brother, Daniel Swaney, older brother of Rena’s husband.

It was very hard to psychologically go from thinking of him as your older brother one day and your husband the next.  Kathleen said she went through a check list and compared herself to her sisters.  She felt lucky because she knew he was kind of worldly.  But their wedding picture shows two people who are terrified.  The damage of being forced to marry one another came out later in their marriage. 

Kathleen had four miscarriages in a row and felt like she was being punished for what her father did to her.  She went into a deep depression and gained a lot of weight.  She found out she had a thyroid problem and when it was stabilized she got pregnant.  She wanted her children to feel valued and read about child development.  She had four children.

Her husband, Daniel, wanted only two children.  He would come back from priesthood meetings very upset and said he couldn’t accept what was being taught.  They left the FLDS together and joined the mainstream Mormons.  At the time they left the FLDS, Kathleen’s daughter was nine and she was becoming very frightened for her. 

Kathleen grew up feeling and believing she didn’t have possession of her own children.  Her concept of God was pretty corrupted.  When she went into mainstream Mormonism, she felt like she belonged.  She could have no contact with the family she left behind. 

Kathleen watched Rena go from one abusive marriage into another one. 

Kathleen has trouble with intimate relationships.  She started therapy against her husband’s wishes when she was still having her babies.  She would develop overwhelming feelings of suicide.  The only thing that stopped her from committing suicide was the thought of what would happen to her children.  She would hide behind being heavy, then she would lose weight but if men started whistling at her she would eat again. 

She studied what reactive-detachment disorder is from the Mayo clinic.  She said that you build yourself up to a certain level and then discover something else you have to work on.  She got her children out.  They didn’t grow up the way she did.  She rejoices in their choices.  And, she is at the stage now where she enjoys having choice. 

Kathleen and Rena have founded the Valerie Jeffs Mackert (VJM) Gateway to Freedom Foundation.  Valerie Jeffs was married to one of their brothers.  She left the FLDS but was lost between the real world and the FLDS world.  She turned to drugs.  She had always suffered from seizures and died of a grand mal seizure where her heart stopped because of the drugs she was taking.  She was 40 when she died.  Her life was lost on polygamy.  She was a very loving, beautiful person.

Kathleen and Rena lobby to get laws changed.  All their brothers and sisters are out of the FLDS. 

Kathleen said, “I can be fulfilled on so many levels as a woman—but not as a polygamy woman.” 

Kathleen and Rena keep striving to reconnect with those “we walked away from when we walked into freedom.”

Until Thursday,

Nancy Mereska, President
Stop Polygamy in Canada

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