Flora: One of the biggest misconceptions of this society is that it is the men who are the brutal ones. The men are the ones who are sexually abusing their daughters; however, it is the women who are the physically abusive, and the most severely mentally and psychologically abusive.


RVW: Abusive to whom?


Flora: The children. This is something that people don’t understand. Most of the domestic violence comes from the other women. Women’s nature in general; women are catty creatures. When you throw women into this - you think about what would occur if you took these women, throw them into one house and tell them, “He’s your husband, now you have to share him.” You go to bed at night, knowing he’s down the hall with another woman and the next morning you have to smile at her across the breakfast table and love her. The feelings and emotions don’t change because you’re born into this stuff.

RVW: That’s one of the worst parts of this? It’s not your father abusing you; it’s how evil the women were?


Flora: The sexual abuse is almost an aside. As terrible as that is, it’s almost an aside because when your father is sexually abusing you, you get elevated in status in the family.


RVW : You’re kidding. They know about it?


Flora : Yes. (Although this sounds weird to you,) this is the most accurate point of view there is about this culture.


RVW : Do you actually believe that women are innately evil like that, or do you think it’s the environment that they’re put in, where they’re going to cut each other’s throat? Women in a setting of power would not behave like this - don’t you think?


Flora: That’s just it: polygamy creates the environment. It’s not that women are like this in general. They have to bury their emotions. They are allowed no feelings, no emotions, no opinion, NOTHING. They are left with nothing of themselves. It’s still inside them. Take a mother and her daughter. A mother is not automatically evil to her daughters, and vicious to her daughters. This society creates that.


RVW: It’s a perfect microcosm of Patriarchy against women which I’ve always said: they could not destroy us if we did not turn one against the other. This is their whole plan; to separate women, and to make women hate and hurt each other instead of working together as sisters where we could DEFEAT them IN ONE WEEK if we all stuck together.

Flora: One of the other reasons for the severe physical abuse is because the women have no right to speak up and protect their children. When the father turns his attention to the daughters, the mothers take out their frustration, their emotion, their jealousies out on the daughters....
If women only realized how much power they have over those men, they could bring them down in a minute. But the reality is, the women are so oppressed, that they don't even know that they have the RIGHT to say "no."


RVW: How much power can one little man have? If the women asserted themselves or became aggressive; lost their fear.....

Flora: When you are taught from birth that your ONLY option of salvation is THROUGH HIM - that he is the king and the God and the master throughout the house, - and that when you die you don't get to go to Heaven and have any celestial reward or whatever - UNLESS HE INVITES YOU. And so, when he is out of the home, it is in the best interests of these women, to get the younger, pretty wives out of the way. The older wives get overlooked.



RVW: What do you mean, get the younger wives out of the way? Are the new wives always younger?


Flora: Gosh, yes. You're useless if you can't create more children to build up HIS kingdom: you're absolutely worthless. When you give someone power over someone else....I only consider these women VICTIMS, until they start VICTIMIZING the younger women. Then they become perpetrators.


RVW: What do they do to the younger women?


Flora: For instance; when you get married, you have basically (depending on how cute you are or how fixated your husband is on you) about a two week to three month grace period, where the other wives will leave you alone. When he's done with you, and the newness wears off and he starts rotating again what happens is.... when one of the women gets sick, because they believe sickness is caused by you allowing evil spirits to come into you....


RVW: Including the men?


Flora: When men get sick, it's usually because one of the wives has given them the sickness. All sickness comes from women. (Didn't Eve give Adam the damn apple?) The husband won't go check up on the wife that's sick. It's the duty of the other wives to take care of her in her sickness. So, there are many times when the other wife will beat the living daylights out of the younger wife, and when she's lying in bed from the beating, he never goes to check on her. All he knows is that "she's sick." There are actually women with scars on their faces from the beatings they've taken from the other wives. This is a very vicious lifestyle.


RVW: The women are so pent up, so frustrated, so repressed, that it's like water; it has to come out somewhere.


Flora: That's one of the things about, when you leave this society; most of the times when the women leave this society they will spend YEARS crying and they don't know why. There is so much emotion inside of them coming out and they don't know how to deal with it. They just cry, and cry and cry, and they don't know why. They're not necessarily said, they just have so much emotion, that it has to go somewhere.


RVW: Do the women ever snap and beat the guys up?


Flora: If they did, their children would be taken away from them.


RVW: Have the women ever got together and plotted against the men and just got away? That never happens, does it?


Flora: No.


RVW : Who is constantly programming and hypnotizing these women on a day to day basis? Where is the authority coming from to keep them in this trap?


Flora : Their entire existence is under control. They listen to the doctrine while they work because they have it on tape. Audio tapes all through the house. In the FLDS, they are very much so.


RVW : When you were imprisoned in that one room at night, were there any windows? (This refers to an earlier interview where Flora said she'd been put into a sort of solitary confinement for three years, because she did not want to cooperate with her father's sexual activities. They would take her out of the room during the day, after the children went to school, and return her to the room before they came home.)


Flora : There was one window, the size of a bathroom window. But this was on the second floor. I would not have gotten out of town in any way, shape or form, if I had escaped. If you get out and call the cops in town, they're part of the group.


RVW : How long did it take them to set this system of oppression up?

Flora : I know they have had this going for a hundred years.


RVW : In this private schooling, does the State TEST to see that the children have learned their lessons properly? Lack of education is extremely weakening to a person, as knowledge is power. The State is supposed to know that your children are learning what they are supposed to be learning.


Flora : Not if you're in Utah or Arizona.


RVW : They don't check?


Flora : They don't do anything, as far as I know. They're useless. They DON'T WANT to do anything.


RVW : The thing that Rowena told me which shocked me is that the regular Mormons are allowing this. In the public eye they say they dissaprove of it. Why are they allowing this?


Flora : Because they believe you have to be a polygamist TO ENTER HEAVEN. It's still in their doctrine. They don't practice it openly, but they do polygamous sealings in their churches. The way they get around it is they say they're not doing it "in this life." If a woman dies, then they get sealed to another wife, and therefore this is how they're justifying what they're doing. (This is unclear to RVW and she plans to ask more about this later.)


RVW : The truth about the Mormon Church does not come out in the tv shows I saw.




Flora : Most of the people in the Mormon Church don't know what's going on. It's the hierarchy, the leadership. Most of the regular Mormons just say they are Mormon because they were born into it. They don't know about their religion.


RVW : These religions intimidate you. They put a fear into you that becomes unconscious. It took me a while to get over the Catholic Church. I remember that it was in 1990 that most of the fear left me, and I was free. It was like a black cloud of fear left me. How did you finally get out? How old were you?


Flora : I ran like Hell. I was sixteen. Actually I got married. I was PLACED in marriage to my cousin. He helped me. Not because he believed like me, but he felt the only way to keep me married to him was to go along with what I wanted.


RVW : Were you always a strong-willed person? Tell me about your escape.


Flora : I was always strong willed. I took my father to court and watched him hand the judge four thousand dollars to drop charges. My grandmother threatened to go to the authorities, but she died.


RVW : How did you get away from your cousin?


Flora : He let me go.




RVW : After you get away, how do you reestablish a relationship with God?


Flora : That is something that every one of the people have to work through. It takes years. I don't know how you do it. Over the years you lose some of your hatred. (In an earlier interview Flora had said that when women come out they HATE GOD and you can't talk to them about God or religion). I do not belong to any religion. I think RELIGION SUCKS.


RVW : What about a MotherGod religion?


Flora : I believe in myself. I believe in a Higher Being, but I don't believe in any way, shape or form in any type of religion. Organized religion has been set up to feed people who can't believe in themselves.


RVW : When you say "yourself," do you mean that God created you in the image and likeness of God. You don't mean you believe in your flesh, do you?


Flora : I believe that God recognizes each and every one of us as his children, and we don't need to go through a man to go to him.




RVW : Why don't you change religion into a religion that you believe in? I have done that. My religion is uniquely my own. Check out my site. We believe that God wants Matriarchy, and many other unusual things. We should have a serious conference and write a report. Let's write up what's wrong, what we understand, and what we need to do to solve this problem.What do you think about a conference and a report?


Flora : I think it's a good idea. It seems to me we've attempted to put that stuff together in the past it just seems that the government looks at what we bring to them, puts it in the trash, and work with the pro-polygamists. In their eyes, it's a culture THAT WE NEED TO ACCEPT.


RVW : If we do this, we don't go to these assholes, we go to the media. The media is your salvation.

Flora : I've been saying that for years. When I go rescue these kids, that's who I take with me. It's the only safety these kids have.


RVW : They say God is in the details. A lot of what you've said to me here - such as the women turning on each other - doesn't get through in the shows I've seen. We need to get this information out there. They have to understand what women suffer day by day in there. We've got to turn the tide of the public against this.


Flora : That's one of the things we've been working on: education of the public. I do quite a bit of speaking to women's groups around the country.


RVW : I think it's important to organize this into a cohesive, strong, centralized group. This way you get FUNDING. They aren't going to fund an individual. You've got to have a solid, strong, foundation of an organization and go from there. They have to know you're SOLID and that you mean business, and that you CAN DO THINGS, and then you become formidable, a force to be reckoned with. But alone, invididuals can't do as much, in terms of changing a society. Money comes to groups that are organized, not to individuals or splinter groups. The NOW got lots of funding once they were ORGANIZED. What would you do if someone laid a good deal of money on you?


Flora : The first thing we could do would be to help some of these women and children who need it. To give them a PLACE TO GO, first of all. As it stands, these children, they have no place to go. The ideal situation is that they have a place of their own to go to. They need their own place, so nobody has to take them in.



RVW : I have always dreamed of setting up apartment houses for women and children for women and children who were beaten or oppressed, or just don't want to deal WITH THE SHIT and the danger of men, and just get away from them in a SAFE SPACE. Apartments where men are NOT ALLOWED TO EVEN VISIT!; and you have gates and guards (24 hour security) and GERMAN SHEPERDS. Safe space for women is unbelievably important. You can't even THINK STRAIGHT with these guys breathing down your neck. I'm not a MAN HATER; I'm a hater of oppression. I fight for the rights of the oppressed - animals - religious persecution and whoever needs help. I'm for the person who gets beat up, abused, and can't fight back.

I see an important step in unity. We women must stick together and work together. Sadly, most women I know don't want to work for issues, the bottom line is survival and their personal needs. We've got to look at the larger picture. I've been doing activism and community work since the age of 23. I understand what is going on out there. Men basically think about sex, and women about money. There has to be a higher elevation here to help the world.

I lived in California and in New York City, and I've been trying to organize for years, with some success. But there's too much apathy. We've got to have zeal. We've got to care about others. Those who are strong have a big cross to carry, but God gives us a cross according to how strong we are.

Flora : They're not interested until it's them that are deprived.


RVW : There are too many people who say: "Save me, gimme gimme, gimme." I'm tired of losers. Takers who want so much that they will drain you of all you have. Sometimes it's a thankless task, because all the losers and ne'er do wells will take from you and in the end, you don't have a friend. But we must go on and continue doing good. We must have faith in good and in good deeds.


Flora : This is one of the things that I tell the people that I help. I won't help them if they're VICTIMS. I will help them if they're SURVIVORS.


RVW : What's the difference?


Flora : The difference is A VICTIM WANTS EVERYTHING DONE FOR THEM. A survivor is WILLING TO FIGHT FOR THEMSELVES. There is a big difference. There's too many out there who need help, begging for help, for me to waste time on somebody who's not willing to help themselves.


RVW : How do you know the difference? Have any of these women sucked you dry of all your resources and all your strength? I've had women do that to me.


Flora : Pretty close. My instincts are very good when it comes to dealing with these issues.


RVW : I've helped a lot of losers who just took, but God always gave me back more in return. I ended up on top, and I've cut them loose. I made a sacred vow not to help losers and deadbeats again. I helped hundreds of people. But how do you know the difference between losers and those who deserve help? You can't give up helping other.


Flora : I don't give up. I have boundaries that I don't slide from. One of those boundaries is that I don't help victims, but I help survivors.


RVW : How do you discern who's who?.....What happens with all those children? I saw one sweet woman that my heart really went out to. She had a few children. She talked about being abused AS A TODDLER. I'd like to reach her. That look on her face was hurt. She talked about releasing slaves, and they have no resources and nowhere to go. Do you know her? My heart went out to all of them. Another lady spoke about her father giving sex lessons to each daughter on her sixteenth birthday. But the one who was abused as a toddler, do you know her?


Flora : I know of her.


RVW : How does someone like that survive? Does she run to the welfare office with all her children and say, help me, I have nothing?


Flora : They don't give you anything. God, no.


RVW : Not in Utah or Arizona? What about other states?


Flora : Most of the experience that we've had with state agencies they tell you basically to go home and quit causing trouble.


RVW : Here in New York I was friends with a lady who learned the rules of welfare, and she knew you had to be destitute to get it. So she went there and explained her rent was due, she could not pay it, they had no food and she was penniless. And they've been on welfare ever since; at least ten years that I know of. She and her children are surviving on that.


Flora : She's not a survivor, she's a victim.


RVW : I understand what you and the other women have been through because I've been to Hell and back more than once. It takes experience to understand the pain of others, and to have compassion. I truly resonate with you.

These Hellish paths, and these Hellish situations; eventually when we get out of them we are in a resurrected state and we are transformed. We are stronger. We can help others. But we don't want to be dragged down into the PIT where they are, we want to bring them up. We don't want them to DRAG US INTO THE PIT WITH THEM, but we want to pull them out of it. Tell me what good and bad experiences have you had?


Flora : When you're trying to help victims, and you're trying to help survivors, victims suck up the resources survivors need. I am not willing to go there. I will not take away from somebody who helps themselves, to give away to somebody who will not help themselves.


RVW : Why won't these women help themselves? Is it because they are too stupid, too weak or what?

Flora : They can't let go of being victims. In some cases, they WON'T let go. When it comes down to, "Oh, pity me, pity me, this is what has happened to me, and so the world owes me, " that kind are the worst. My time means too much to me to waste it on someone like that. Usually the victims end up being victims again, because they can't let go of being a victim.



RVW : They like feeling sorry for themselves?


Flora : Woe is me, help me, help me, woe is me. I say, figure it out for yourselves because if you can't pull yourselves up by your bootstraps - make an attempt to help yourself, I don't have time to help you. They need to quit being victims.


RVW : How are the survivors different? What happens with them?


Flora : The biggest difference is that instead of asking you to do it for them, they ask you how to do it. They use the shoulder that you give them to lean on, but they don't expect you to carry the load for them.


RVW : Are there more victims or more survivors, and how long does it take you to tell them apart?


Flora : It usually takes, with me, about ten minutes. I trust my instincts, they are rarely wrong.


RVW : The lady I saw you on Debrah Norville was bewildered and inarticulate. Was she a survivor? How long since she had escaped? One time she couldn't remember your name and called you "she." She seemed dazed. I can understand that.

What is the next approach to beat this trap? We've got to get others to help. No individual can tackle this singlehandedly. How can you get the legislature to help? How can you get public support? How can you beat this?


Flora : First of all, continuing the education, continuing to push the states to beef up the law enforcement that's up there already. AS LONG AS YOU HAVE LAW ENFORCEMENT THAT IS UNWILLLING TO ENFORCE THE LAW, YOU HAVE NO LAW. When a child's only option is to call "911" to get help, and the people who are supposed to help her ARE THE ONES THAT ARE COMMITTING THE CRIMES AGAINST THEM, you have a big problem there.


RVW : How many of you women activists are there ready, willing and able to do this? It seems to me there aren't very many. After all, there are 50,000. or more people involved in polygamy in Utah and Arizona.


Flora : I'm not sure how many. It seems like quite a few. You have to understand that, coming from this society messes women up. Messes their brains up. When you leave this society you don't automatically let go of that competition, the vindictive spirit of what you've been raised with all your life; that is carried over into their lives outside the group. So what you end up having, is that even if someone is trying to be an activist, a lot of times that jealousy and that behavior of the women (like I was saying before) where the most brutality comes from the women. That is carried over into their present lives, and that is what I was saying about being a victim and being a survivor. You can't be both. If you want to fight the fight, you've got to become a survivor, because you cannot fight the fight as a victim.


RVW: They say the best defense is an offence. How did you learn to be aggressive in your ways, and do you actively pursue the press or do you let the press come to you?


Flora : One of the people that I work with, a woman by the name of Linda Walker - she's been very good in helping with the press and so on, and really pushes me to do the press. I think that one of the reasons I am so aggressive is that I believe totally, completely in what I am doing. I do not fear the death threats that come in.




RVW : You get death threats?


Flora : Oh, God, I've been issued a bullet-proof vest because of all the death threats I've received. This is not an issue to get into unless you've got nerves of steel, because they will come after you.


RVW : Who comes after you?


Flora : All these groups that believe in BLOOD ATONEMENT and KILLING PEOPLE TO FURTHER GOD'S WORK.


RVW : Do you know who threatened you, specifically? How did they threaten you, by what communication means?


Flora : Every way - E-mail, phone, any way shape or form. Little messages at your door LIKE ANIMALS WITH THEIR THROATS SLIT. These guys are MAFIA TIMES TEN.


RVW : And they do that to Rowena, and Carmen, and everybody else?


Flora : They do it to people who pose a large threat, which I do. Because I'm not afraid of them. I've outgrown the fear.


RVW : In the beginning it was fearful?


Flora : In the beginning, I ran for five years from them. They tried to kill me for five years. It's to the point now that I view it that every day I walk out the door I risk dying, whether it's a bus or a bullet. It doesn't much matter, I'm still going to be dead. If it's not my time to go, it's just going to hurt for a little while. I tell them to bring it on. I'm out. I have survived it. I am a FIGHTER. It does not control my life any more. How, as a human being, knowing and coming from the same thing, how can I watch my family endure the same things that I know are going on, and not step in and do what I can to help them. That would make me just as bad as the abusers. The group that I fight is the largest, the most well armed, and the most vicious and dangerous - the FLDS - The Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints.

RVW : Is it all men or do women come after you?


Flora : The women aren't allowed into that realm. It is the women's job to raise the armies; the kids.


RVW : Is your situation similar to the Muslim women in Arab countries?


Flora : Probably, somewhat.



RVW : Muslim women can't drive, (in theocratic countries) they can't get an education, they can't work, they have to walk around all covered up....I can imagine the abuses that go on behind closed doors. You never have social workers coming around to find out if the children are ok, and they're not being abused?


Flora : They have actually come in and told the children that what their parents are doing to them is nothing compared to what will happen to them if they come into state custody. I helped two sixteen-year olds in January to escape, two girls. We got them into state custody, and after a couple of months THE STATE WAS GETTING READY TO SEND THEM BACK TO THEIR PARENTS. They ran from state custody. The state custody came to me and THREATENED ME TO TAKE ME TO JAIL IF I DIDN'T TELL THEM WHERE THEY WERE. I told them to cuff me. They said was I willing to go to jail, and I said I was WILLING TO DIE FOR THESE KIDS. They got nasty and I said, that CPS is supposed to stand for "Child Protection Services," but it really means "CAN'T PROTECT SHIT."

"I believe that the only defense that women and children have against abuse is education."



RVW July 2004




Flora Jessup




© 2004 - 2006 RASA VON WERDER