FLDS women and girls fight back


A number of those who have read my novel The Scent of Rain have suggested that, while they like the story, some of the elements seem a bit far-fetched. The irony, of course, is that while the story of Rose Madsen’s escape from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a work of fiction, many of the traumas the 16-year-old endures are based on actual situations.

I interviewed Flora Jessop, who twice escaped from the cult, at length. I interviewed Dr. Theodore Tarby who worked with the people in Colorado City and encouraged them to stop inbreeding to avoid the devastating birth defects that plague the community. I visited Colorado City and nearby Hurricane to observe what life is like in the communities on the Arizona Strip. I wrote about what I heard and what I saw with little embellishment.

The conditions in the area the people call Short Creek remain harrowing, but life for the cult members is improving. I was delighted to see an article last week titled “Ex-FLDS women, girls learn to stand up to sexual violence” by reporter Emily Havens of The Spectrum & Dailey News in St. George, Utah. Havens details efforts at the first-ever Brave Youth camp, where FLDS survivors learn about self-defense, how to deal with sexual violence, healthy dating relationships, and other social issues to prepare them for the real world outside the controlling strictures of the cult in which they were raised. http://www.thespectrum.com/story/news/2017/08/03/ex-flds-women-girls-learn-how-stand-up-sexual-violence/536777001/

With FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs imprisoned, serving a life-plus-20-years sentence for his sham marriages to under-age girls – one as young as 12 – and the state of Arizona finally taking steps to rectify the horrifying abuses – forced marriage, sexual violence, child abuse, animal abuse, child slavery – there is now hope for the people of Colorado City.


Anne Montgomery’s new novel, The Scent of Rain, tells the story of two Arizona teenagers whose fates become intertwined. Rose flees into the mountains to escape from her abusive polygamous community where her only future is marriage to a man older than her father. Adan, whose only wish is to be reunited with his mother, is on the run from the cruelties of the foster care system. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?  The Scent of Rain is available at https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780996390149 and wherever books are sold.

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