As the story involving the polygamist sect in Eldorado, Texas continues to unfold the nation has become focused on the world of polygamy.
In Eldorado, over 200 (now updated to over 530
) women and children were removed over the weekend from a compound being led by polygamist leader Warren Jeffs. Authorities began removing people after a 16-year old girl came forward with claims of abuse.
Police initially were investigating to try to find evidence of a marriage between the girl (who is said to have also had her first child at 15 years old) and 50 year old Dale Barlow. In Texas, it is illegal for girls younger than 16 to marry.
As that investigation continues, other women who have also experienced similar situations are coming forward.
Today on The Early Show Julie Chen interviewed Laurie Allen who was born into a polygamist sect and escaped at the age at 30. She has put together a documentary called "Banking on Heaven" that tells the story of the struggles that women and children in polygamist sects go through.
"(Polygamy is) a life where, as a female, you really don't think for yourself, you're basically told what to do. You really are just a breeding machine to further the agenda of the male patriarchy," Allen told Chen. "This is what I experienced.
"And it's just a very oppressive environment -- or repressive. You know, you don't get education. I never finished the fourth grade growing up. So, when you do finally get the wherewithal to get out, it takes about 20 years to really transition into the outside world and to discover your own identity, because you've been taught all your life to just do what you're told."
She said that in these sects, men are seen as"kings"
"... it's much more difficult to transition a female out than it is a male. The males have more independence. They really are the kings. So, women have a much tougher time with that. It does take an average of 20 years. It is very, very difficult."
She said that the women and kids removed from the compound in Texas were most likely taught from birth especially in the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) that the police are evil and all outsiders should not be trusted.
She said that she would not be surprised if the victims that were freed from the compound want to go back to their abusers. She said women and children are so sick and abused that they are literally slaves and cannot wait to get back to their masters. She claimed that when children are removed from polygamy they return as soon as they are 18 years old.
She knows from experience... Allen says it took her two decades to overcome the abuse she went through including going back to the cult herself. She originally escaped at the age of 16 but ended up just going back because she couldn't fit in in the outside world. At 16 she returned to the cult and became a man's third wife.
Finally, when she went to college the spell was lifted and she was able to start a new, normal life.
It's very sad to think that there are thousands of women and children being put in these kinds of situations. How on earth is this still going on in 2008? The trouble is that there is so much abuse and mind control from early on that most victims do not even realize that they are in a bad situation. Hopefully this new case in Eldorado will help bring light to the plight of those still suffering in polygamist sects.