A former member of Warren Jeffs' fundamentalist Mormon cult has opened up about how she was accused of committing adultery after having sex with her own husband.
The 37-year-old, who is known as @cali_girl_at_heart on TikTok, was raised in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). After getting married at age 15, she had eight children before escaping with her family.
In a recent video, she recalled how she and her now ex-husband started to question the religion after they 'oathed and vowed in a meeting to no longer have any marital relations' under Jeffs' orders.
'Somewhere along the way, we ended up disobeying that edict,' she explained. 'After they then told us we were guilty of committing adultery.'
In our minds, we were like, "Yeah, no, I don't think so. I don't think that was adultery." That was the epiphany for us,' she continued. 'That was the very first time that something in our life was significant enough that we were like, "What the f**k?"'
Jeffs, who is believed to have about 78 wives and at least 60 children, was sentenced to life in prison in 2011 after being convicted of aggravated sexual assault of two children, ages 12 and 15, that he took as wives.
The FLDS leader has also been accused of sexually abusing some of his own children, as well as his niece and nephew, who have come forward with their allegations.
The TikTok user explained that Jeffs ordered the sex ban while he was behind bars, which led to speculation about his true intentions.
'A lot of people have the theory that he couldn't get any so neither could they,' she explained. 'Now that I know what I know about him, it's probably accurate.'
After being found guilty of adultery, she was told her husband would be sent away, and she would have been put in the care of another man.
Their children who qualified to join the United Order — a program of economic and moral reform — would be forced to live with another family.
She recalled how she and her husband had to make the difficult decision to believe what they were being told and break up their family or 'find a different path.'
'That was the time. That was the great wakeup for us,' she said. 'It's a little unfortunate looking back because we should have just left completely, but instead, we joined a breakoff group of the FLDS that claimed they were the true FLDS, like most religions do.'
In another video, she explained how she and her former husband were kept from the media and didn't find out about Jeffs' crimes until they joined the group.
'So we bought into that bulls**t and propaganda for a while before we finally left completely,' she said of escaping FLDS for good.
She explained that her husband and to leave his job because the company was a part of the religious sect, and they also had to find new housing.
'Because we questioned, we got immediately cut off,' she said. 'Everybody shunned us. We were at a loss.'
The mother of eight noted that she was never married to Jeffs, who is actually her half-cousin. Her mother, who also escaped the religious sect, was half-sisters with Jeffs' mom, 'meaning their moms were sister wives married to the same man.'
'You could say we were very much groomed, very much brainwashed,' she said. 'Our parents, this is what happened to them, this is what happened to everyone we knew, this is what had to happen in order for you to be quote-unquote a good girl, a worthy woman, a wonderful holy Zion mother.'
Looking back on her own wedding day, which took place when she was just 15, she recalled how afraid she was that she was going to be married off to 'some old man.'
'I had 45 minutes notice to get ready for my own wedding,' she explained. 'I didn't know who I was marrying. They didn't tell me.'
She was relieved when she found out that her husband was 19. They started trying for children immediately, but she didn't have her first child until two years later. They went on to have a total of eight children.
When asked about her ex and if he still has a relationship with their children, who range in age from six to 20, she was quick to come to his defense.
'He's a great dad. He's an amazing person, and I don't ever want to demonize him,' she said. 'He was 19. I was 15. We left at the same time, so really in a sense, he was a victim too.'
In other videos, she shared how her older children reacted to leaving FLDS, saying they hated her and her ex for the first year because they feared they would be sent to hell.
She admitted her kids were also bullied over their FLDS clothing when they went to public school for the first time because she didn't know to dress them in anything else.
However, she was surprised by how nice people were overall after being told for years that 'everyone in the outside world was bad and wicked and awful.'
'One thing that stood out for me a lot after we left was how kind people were and how shocked and surprised I was,' she explained. 'You know, when I would run into somebody at Walmart, they would smile or they would go out of their way to be civil, kind, decent human beings.'
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