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The 14-Year-Old Child Bride Forced to Marry In a Polygamous Sect | The Oprah Winfrey Show | OWN

The 14-Year-Old Child Bride Forced to Marry In a Polygamous Sect | The Oprah Winfrey Show | OWN

at the prospect of embarking on my wedding night. Even with all my
clothes on, I still couldn’t imagine being in the
same room by myself with a man. It wasn’t just that I
was afraid of Allen. I was overwhelmed at the idea
of being in bed with him. As a naive
14-year-old FLDS girl, I had no idea that people
did more than sleep in bed. Her testimony
was the first time that you had sexual
intercourse, you undressed her, and she was sobbing and
crying and shaking in fear. That’s not what you recall. No. ELISSA WALL: The truth
was that I knew nothing about sex, absolutely nothing. I didn’t even know
that sex existed. That was an excerpt from
Elissa Wall’s new book. It’s called “Stolen Innocence.” Elissa grew up in Warren
Jeffs’ polygamous sect and was forced to
marry at the age of 14. This is the actual dress that
she wore on her wedding day. And how did you
find out you were getting married, number one? ELISSA WALL: I received
word I was getting married from my father at the time. He was not my biological father. But he was an appointed
father at the time. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. And he had gathered us
in a family gathering. And he just mentioned to the
family that three of his girls were going to be married. And he had quite a significant
amount of young girls. And then later on, he brought
me aside with my mother and told me that I was
one of those young girls. OPRAH WINFREY: Wow. And what did you think
at first or feel? At first, I was shocked. There was many girls older than
myself that were in his family. And it was very shocking. I thought for sure
he actually had me confused with another
one of his daughters. But after questioning, he
assured me that, yes, it was me that was going to be married. OPRAH WINFREY: Yeah. And I heard from
“Stolen Innocence” that you actually went and
begged not to be married. Yes, I did, several times. OPRAH WINFREY: Who did you beg? Well, I petitioned to both my
appointed father, Warren Jeffs, and then the prophet who
was the leader at the time. Mm-hm. And what did you say? I asked them if
they could wait. I wanted at least
two years to grow up. And then when I later found
out who I was to be married to, who was my cousin,
that really upset me. And that’s also one
thing I begged them, is that they could at least
find someone else for me to marry other than my cousin. Now, do they decide? Or did your cousin ask for you? Absolutely. The people of that culture, they
believe in placement marriage, arranged marriages. The people who are
actually in the marriage do not decide for themselves. The leader or someone acting
on the prophet who they call the leader on his behalf is the
one who arranges the marriages and decides who goes with who. So when you said
you married, you didn’t even know what sex was. You say in the book that at
the time that you married, you thought that beds
were just for sleeping. Yes. OPRAH WINFREY: Yes. And so how did you
come– obviously– come to know differently? Well, I was like many,
many girls from there. They don’t teach a
sexual knowledge. They don’t teach
you human anatomy. I mean, it goes from mother to
mother who decides what they want to tell their daughters. OPRAH WINFREY: But after your
mother knew you were going to get married, there
isn’t a kind of, you know, even in some
cultures, the women then try to school the
girls as to what’s going to happen on your wedding
night and to prepare you. No. I was told that my
husband would do that, that he would be the one
that would explain it to me. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. And that’s a
very common thing– OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. –that they leave it for the
husband to do the education. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. Did you consummate the
marriage on the wedding night? No, the marriage was not
consummated till a little while after. But when it did happen, I
mean, it was very shocking. It was very traumatic. Coming from a very innocent mind
where I knew nothing of even the anatomy of my own body– OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. –and then to go
from 0 to 100 was really hard and overwhelming. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. And who did you have
to talk to about that? No one. They teach very heavily
as you’re growing up that those relations, any
kind of sexual relations, or as they call it
marital relations, they teach that you
only communicate that with your husband, that it
is so sacred and so private that you don’t have the right
to tell other people about it. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. So I didn’t have anyone
to talk to about it. OPRAH WINFREY: Born into
the polygamist sect known as the FLDS, Elissa
Wall was just 14 years old when she was told
it was time for her to marry. A husband who also happened to
be her 19-year-old first cousin was chosen for her. Devastated, Elissa says
she begged the church’s leaders to reconsider her fate. Warren Jeffs, the prophet who
is now in prison for accessory to rape, told
Elissa her marriage was a revelation from God
and could not be refused. Is it common to
marry your cousins or other close relatives? It’s common in
that culture, yes. It’s definitely something
they don’t taboo. You see it quite a bit. It’s never as close
as father and sister. But it does happen quite a bit. Is there a concern– well, I don’t know, if
nobody talks about sex, do they ever talk
about birth defects? Is there concern
about marrying– Well, as I was told, was
that because the prophet and God condoned this marriage
there was no concern for that. Mm-hm. And they had told me that
because God and the prophet, this was their will, that
there would not be a problem. OPRAH WINFREY: OK. When you got married and you’re
having sex with your husband, do you know that two
people consummating a marriage, intercourse,
did you know that that was called intercourse? Absolutely not. They really don’t have
those terms in that culture. They don’t use “intercourse”
or “sex” very often. They have their
own terms for it. So no, I did not know
that I was having– OPRAH WINFREY: What
is their term for it? What is their term? They very often
use marital relations or husband-wife relations– OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. –terms like that. They don’t usually say
“sex” or “intercourse.” Where did you think
babies came from? [CHUCKLING] I was told
they came from heaven. I didn’t know at the
time what it took physically to have a child. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. And even when the actual
intercourse happened, it was very long time before
I came to the understanding that that’s what happens. OPRAH WINFREY: Yeah,
you write in the book how traumatizing that was. Absolutely. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. What did your husband say? Well, he told
me that that was– it was the prophet’s
and God’s will, that this was his job and
right as a husband of mine. So OK, we’re going to
look at a picture here. What’s going on in that picture? Wow. [CHUCKLING] That picture
was taken on our honeymoon just shortly after
we were married. Then my father at the time
sent us on a honeymoon. And throughout the honeymoon,
I was having a hard time– OPRAH WINFREY: Where’d you go? It was kind of
just a road trip. We went down through Arizona,
New Mexico, a piece of Texas, different places like that. And throughout the honeymoon,
I was very offish to Allen, my appointed husband. And he couldn’t
get me to kiss him. And the other people,
the other couples that were on the actual
honeymoon with us, had dared me to kiss him. So other couples
are on the honeymoon? ELISSA WALL: Yes, they were. This is as different
kind of honeymoon. Yes. [LAUGHTER] [CHUCKLING] OK, other
couples are on the honeymoon– ELISSA WALL: Mm-hm. –who were also married. ELISSA WALL: They were married
the same day I was, yes. So it’s a honeymoon
group thing. Yeah. OK. And it was definitely
not your typical honeymoon. OPRAH WINFREY: Meaning? Well, most of the girls didn’t
know their husband beforehand. So it’s kind of a get
to know one another. I mean, there was no romantic
getaways or things like that. It was very uncomfortable
for me, anyway. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. And as far as the
kissing picture, they couldn’t get
me to kiss him. So Allen just grabbed
me one day and just brought me in for a kiss. And you know, even as
I look at it today, it hurts me to see that
I was so uncomfortable, I was blocking him with both
my arms to push him away. Well, Elissa’s former
husband, Allen Steed has been charged with
one count of rape. We contacted him. And his attorney
gave us a statement saying that Allen
has pled not guilty and is contesting
all of the charges that he’s anticipating at trial. ELISSA WALL: He started to
undress me and undress himself. I was crying. And I was, like, please, I– I don’t want you doing it. It doesn’t feel right. Please stop. Please quit. I can’t do this. I’m just begging him to
stop or at least explain to me what he was doing. That was the
voice of Elissa Wall as she testified in the
Warren Jeffs trial last year. She is the reason the polygamist
leader is in prison today. Jeffs was convicted as
an accomplice to rape by forcing Elissa to
marry her first cousin when she was only 14 years old. And how did you feel when you
heard that guilty verdict? It was very bittersweet. I felt that justice
had been served. I was grateful that
I wasn’t the one that had to make that decision. But I knew that there
was so many thousands of people that were praying
that he would get off. And I knew that they
would never understand. And I knew how bad
it would hurt them. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. And were you worried what
they would think of you? Well, I knew that they
thought of me as someone who had left their church and as evil. But I knew that I had
to tell the truth. And for whatever their
opinion is of me, then I just want
them to know that I still love them very dearly. Well, at the age
of 17, Elissa escaped her marriage and the polygamous
sect with her boyfriend Lamont. So how’d you get a
boyfriend in there? [LAUGHTER] It was a miracle. I had been married for a while. And it had been a very
hard couple of years. It had gotten to a point
where I was living– I would sleep in my vehicle. And one wintry cold night, he
helped me change a tire out in the middle of nowhere. And he started to kind of
investigate my situation and– How did you get it out
in the middle of nowhere because I’m thinking that
you’re all in a compound kind of situation. Well, the town we
lived in southern Utah on the border of Arizona is– yes, it’s all FLDS
that are there. But there’s not a
fence around it. It’s not nearly as
secluded as this. Yes, it’s kind of in
the middle of a desert. And so you can
drive a half a mile, and you’re considered in
the middle of nowhere. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. And so it’s not necessarily a
compound like they have today. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. So were you sleeping
in your car? Are you allowed to work
outside of the compound? Can you mingle with other
people who are not of the sect? It’s definitely frowned upon. Some do work outside,
especially the men. The men work on the outside. But for the girls,
for myself, anyway, I did most of my work inside the
city, the town that we lived. They had a restaurant
and different things like that that was
owned and operated by the members in the town. OPRAH WINFREY: OK. All right, so you met Lamont. He helped you fix a tire. ELISSA WALL: Yes. And some woo-woo started. Well, it was a
friendship for a long time. And I was coming out of a
very, very intense relationship with my appointed husband. And it was– I on– It was fate. It was a higher power working
in my life to answer my prayers. So Elissa and Lamont are now
married and have two children. Lamont also grew up
in a polygamous family and says even though
he left that he’s not against plural marriage. No? I don’t think the
issue is plural marriage. I think in a society that we
live in where people can make their choices as
adults, they should be able to make those choices. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. Where the problem comes in is
when you’re abusing and forcing girls that are
definitely not old enough to make the choice for themself
into a plural relationship. And then you try to
hide that relationship. So your opposition is that– clearly, what you’ve
stated is children being forced to marry– Absolutely. OPRAH WINFREY: –as Elissa
was at an early age. Absolutely. OPRAH WINFREY: But say,
would you be opposed to taking a second wife? I personally would. Yeah, I wouldn’t. It’s not for me. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. But wouldn’t judge
somebody else who did. But I’m not going
to judge someone else who truly believes that’s
a tenant of their religion. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. If he wanted to
take a second wife, how would you feel about that? [CHUCKLING] I personally could
not live in plural marriage. I’ve seen it happen. And I’m not too sure
I could do that. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. It’s just for me personally,
it’s really hard when you put women in a position
where they have to compete for a man’s love. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. OK. Elissa’s older
sister Teresa also testified against Warren Jeffs. Just two years ago, she escaped
from a compound in Canada with her three children. And you left why? You know, I was extremely
unhappy being there. But the biggest drive for me
to leave was my three kids. I didn’t want my two girls going
through what my sister did. I didn’t want them getting
married at a young age. And I wanted them to
have the education that kids don’t get there. Are the children educated? No. They’re– That was a [SIGHING]. – I got an answer for that.
– What is that? Not traditionally. They’re not traditionally
educated like what you would see in a public school here.
OPRAH WINFREY: OK. They have their basics–
mathematics, spelling. But it’s mostly a
religious education. And they started homeschooling
or priesthood schools where the agenda or the
curriculum that was taught was completely based
on religious teachings. LISA LING: But FLDS teachings. Yeah, or FLDS teachings. Absolutely. Mm-hm. So did you think
growing up being raised in that environment
that what you were experiencing was normal? Did you know that
there was another life? I didn’t know
there was another– OPRAH WINFREY: Another way of– No, I had no idea
there was another– I only knew what I had
been taught to believe and what I had
lived all my life. I mean, it was all I knew. And I had no idea of what
the outside world was like. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hm. And so was it a shock to you? Yes, it was very hard
to adjust into what we would say the real world is. What about it was hard
for you, too, Teresa? What was hard? Oh, you know,
definitely seeing my kids go through this huge cultural
change, that was really hard. But, you know– OPRAH WINFREY: Well, you all
came out and redid your hair, I see.
ELISSA WALL: [LAUGHS] [LAUGHTER] You know– Everybody came out and
got rid of those hairdos. [LAUGHTER] You all came out and went
straight to the beauty parlor. [LAUGHTER] It’s a completely
different world. It really is.
OPRAH WINFREY: Yeah. It’s like taking
someone from Mars, sticking them on the real
world, and saying, OK, live.

100 comments found

  1. cults must be prohibited. This is more than ridiculous. It is cruel, emotional abuse, traumatic and criminal. I am happy for her that she has left the cult

  2. I have followed this story for some time now, but I can not understand how these people have been so blinded by one man. Praying those strong women who took a stand to leave.

  3. This poor lady's blood parents deserve blame as much as Alan . Why the hell did they allow all this to happen to their girl ?

  4. People blame arab counties for this kind of *****t but its happening in there own backyard…
    Sick people are all over the planet…

  5. There’s something far too cheerful about this woman for my liking. What she’s talking about is clearly not cheerful, yet she’s smiling and behaving in a far less disgusted manner than one would expect for having gone through such a traumatic experience. I think she still has quite a young, immature mind; otherwise, she would be far less cheerful when speaking of such a human violation.

  6. I was innocent and very naive just like her when I vacationed to Europe and was taken advantage of by my uncle there. My older sister was supposed to look after me. She's the one that set everything up. I'm 60 now and I still remember the horror I felt.

  7. I think that whole thing is a sexual cult for the benefit of man and they make me sick. Has nothing to do with religion!!!!!!

  8. Thats way too young but when asked by Oprah if she consummated the marriage, she looks down and read something like what she was supposed to say it looks like. I mean, those kind of things should be common sense and come out the way they are, and not scripted in any kind of way. It just looks a bit odd.

  9. All those disgusting men who gullibly still follows Jeff warren who is no prophet but a fake one are going to hell with him and no matter there believe by taking more wife to reach the stairs well of heaven for now but was the man dies their going to get a rude awakening from god for brainwashing woman and girl to be submissive and treated not equal etc…

  10. I hope she divorces her current husband too. He has the same mentality as the people in cult. 🤦‍♀️ she’s one step closer to freedom. I know this was a long time, i hope she’s not with this guy yet.

  11. These monsters need to be thrown in a wood chipper feet first to make sure these people suffer. 🤦‍♀️ disgusting

  12. Truthfully i feel bad for all the young men as well as the young women. They are also brainwashed to think all of this is okay. They are not traumatized in the same way as the girls, but they are controlled and twisted to believe all of these terrible things are Gods will. Like imagine a man coming out of that culture and realizing all of the awful things he was taught to do. Its just heartbreaking for everyone.

  13. Painful shock bastrd psyhiatrists BURNED shrunk shocked ouchhhh convulsed 30x q3 Years for nothingouchhhh shock docs eith no illnesess

  14. How she felt is EXACTLY how a wry old Would feel, on her so-called wedding night. No preparation, because The Women do not explain. Most do not Understand the lengths they went to " to keep the girls PURE , MENTALLY /PHYSICALLY " the Husbands are the only one to say what " is NORMAL. Which means whatever he wants from her, any acts he decides, is " normal, and in some cases it's totally abnormal, perverted.Not , thank God most are normal. But as a woman who was raped, you go through such pain, both mentally and physical, and if he is insensitive, because he has not been explained to, to be genital and kind, to you, he may just assume it's perfectly fine to make you undress thinking you are prepared, Or feeling you are his legal property, and litterally tear off your nightclothes and take you very harshly, and may repeat this as often as he wants, no matter you are crying, bleeding and in much pain. It can and does scar a woman for life. I equate it to being Gang-Raped except it's one man. But it causes the same type of mental/emotional pain for the girl. Because it wasn't done in a way of caring compassion and love as EVERY GIRL DESERVES, FOR HER 1ST TIME. It would also help if they had feelings for eachother. And STOP this Tradtion. They continue this practice , they just safeguard it more. It's a terrible thing, but Is Still Practiced in MANY Religions

  15. I do want everyone to know though that not all Mormons live like this.
    I know Mormons that are straight up one-on-one in marriage and respect their religion. If anybody else wants the elaborate please do.

  16. More craziness in "the name of God"…
    Just another example of dirty ole good ole boys using religion to fulfill their own pleasures and enough dumb sheep to make it happen…disgusting religion..

  17. I read this book…couldn't put it down!!! Broke my heart 💔 Thank you for your bravery to share your life story!! Hoping that many will be helped!☺️😊

  18. She is powerful and heroic. Shining the light! She somehow developed an independent understanding of right and wrong.

  19. Every one of those FDLS men are pedophiles. This is disgusting. God almighty would NEVER condone or demand this from His children.

  20. I was sexually molested at 14 years old by a nasty pig 40 years old preacher in a church, name of the church is Camino de paz Christian church in Fort Worth , his name is Isrmael Sanchez Tapia from Managua Nicaragua , you ruined my life, die pig

  21. Polygamous should be prohibited and prosecuted who does it! It is a another way to use and abuse WOMEN! I am still surprised that such a stupid thing exist in USA","First World Country"

  22. Thank God the Lider is in prison…this kind of Scam Bag always uses name of God to lie to their naive followers! Evil Liders!

  23. As the mother of a 14 year old this disgusts me. They should be ashamed of themselves putting this child through this. Awful awful awful.

  24. Why in majority of the countries We have a serious issue with women abuse.why in majority of religion objectify women…why it took soo many years to realise that women are getting objectifying for being women? Why get abused just because having a different body orientation than Men?why religion of different countries never talked about worshiping women for brining a life to this earth? I have read Gita, Vedas, holy Quran,Bibel .why there was a misleading explanation by that time patriarchal society ? Why the women even more crual over women exploitation every single time.if Even all women of that time were conscious about women ,no men had power to abuse women like this.Sorry I am unable to go through the whole interview it was really disturbing to see.

  25. I also remember this as I bought the book when it came out years ago, this popped up after an Oprah rabbit hole lol And I said oh my God I remember I read that book I have it somewhere I bought the hardback because for a while I was really into reading about these kind of “religions” which really are cults and I’m all for letting people do whatever they want as long as everybody’s happy and safe and in the situation you’re bringing children into it so they definitely don’t get to decide but I don’t know I guess I just didn’t remember the horrific nature of the book like hearing this poor girl talking about it breaks my heart even now and I know she’s a survivor and has gone on to have a beautiful life. God bless her 💚

  26. Imagine the shame God must feel when evil men say that something is "God's will" in order to not only let evil things happen but to save face as to giving an explanation. No wonder so many people dont believe there is a God. Good lives within us and the planet THAT'S where He is

  27. Oprah is very rude. Always interrupting the guests before they finish answering the question, and making inappropriate comments.

  28. People who believe this "born in the wrong body " crap, are just as much in a cult. And they abuse and sexualize children too. Oprah is one of them.

  29. Amazing how even growing up inside that insane culture her logic and reason was stronger and she could discern it was not right.

  30. It’s mind blowing that they are still out here making girls marry in any state no matter their religion no women/child should be married until 18 and are all the way educated about what areal marriage consists of. With a written and multiple choice test and score no less then 95% on it. And must graduate real school either hike school or public schooling. But must graduate school. Just saying! Ridiculous!!!!!!

  31. “As a naive 14-year-old girl, I had no idea that people did more than sleep in bed.”
    My heart broke for her…only a monster would destroy the innocence of a child in such a despicable way.

  32. It a nightmare not a religion how could you make you children go though this, it is the most disgusting thing on earth

  33. Arrange marriage should be bann, it should be stop, a person should get to chose who they going to marry and they should get to live their childhood life and get to chose to marriage when they are ready

  34. I get that what she went through was traumatizing for her but she could at least take the issue seriously, even if she is discussing intercourse.

  35. Poor girl. These happens a lot in the name of "islam" in indonesia. This isnt racism, this is truth. There are a lot of good muslims, mostly around me are a very good one. But an "ustad" making children marry someone as 4th wife or 5th wife is common here for muslim people.

    I hope i can fight these kind of poligamy

  36. I wonder if there's a cult out there where women rule and they can have as many husbands as they want🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 these men would have to cater to us hand and foot feed grapes to us and at the clap of our hands do whatever we tell them to do. Only In the another🤣🤣🤣
    I'm sure the government would find a quick way to shut that one down🤣🤣🤣🤣

  37. The new husband has plenty of issues himself. He doesn’t understand that polygamy is against the law.
    Why can’t the USA exercise the right to arrest these men? Instead they have their own TV shows and live in sin.

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