Woman raised in an incestuous polygamous cult lays bare the horrific abuse she faced - revealing how she was forced to marry her own COUSIN at 18

Daily Mail, UK/October 22, 2023

By Raven Saunt

A woman who was raised in an incestuous polygamous cult has candidly laid bare the horrific abuse she endured at the hands of her own husband.

Shanell Snow Derieux appeared on a recent episode of the Cults To Consciousness podcast alongside host Shelise Ann Sola.

She revealed how she grew up in Utah as a member of The Order - a cult that decided to branch off from the original Mormon church when the mainstream religion ceased practicing polygamy.

Shanell said she was coerced into marrying her own cousin at just 18 who became verbally, physically and sexually abusive before she ultimately broke away.

In the podcast, Shanell revealed that she could have up to 200 siblings after losing count at 163.

The cult promotes incest in a bid to keep bloodlines 'pure' with the aim being to have as many children as possible.

Shanell said that they forced members to marry early to 'lock you in as young as they possibly can to make it harder for you in the future if you did try to leave.'

Her father John Daniel Kingston - known as Daniel - married 14 women, four of which were his half-sisters, with others being his cousins.

Asked why The Order continues to be incestuous, even with the latest generations, Shanell said: 'I honestly don't know why they believe this but they believe that they are direct descendants from Jesus Christ and that's why they want to keep the blood pure or clean.'

Elaborating further about her own experience with relationships in the cult, she explained: 'They've ingrained it into us so hardcore from when we were two or three years old.

'But I want to say that they started pressuring me to start making my list or have an idea of certain [boys] that might be my marital choices when I was 10 - maybe younger.

'I remember being 12 or 13 when we were in one of our marriage preparation classes and I remember [Daniel] telling all of us that some of his own kids would marry each other.'

She said she looked round the room at her half brothers thinking: 'Oh no, no, no, please because he's my brother and I actually love him.'

Shanell revealed that 'everybody was just marrying cousins so then it was just super normal,' adding that the pressure to follow suit came not just from adults in the group but also peers, siblings and best friends.

She said that Daniel offered to make a list of potential husbands for her, but she stated: 'I didn't trust him. I had no reason to trust him.

'He'd been telling me that I was not a good kid. He'd been beating down my spirit and trying to make me feel worthless, trying to make me feel like I needed his approval.'

The Order's 'standards for young men and women' included that their first kiss will be on the wedding day and that they must have at least $20,000 saved by the time they tie the knot.

The Order's rules on 'casual touching' during dating

Children in The Order were given strict lists of rules including instructions about 'casual touching.'

Shanell read: 'Casual touching is an important part of marriage. By casual touching we mean a hand squeeze, a hug around the shoulders or waist, sometimes just a touch of the hand on their arm in passing or in casual talking, also sitting close together when in conversation.

'It must follow then that the opposite is also true. For any of those things to take place between a woman and a man who is not her husband will start to make ties that shouldn't be made before marriage.

'There should be no touching except a handshake in a group or while dancing with plenty of space between the two people.

'A man should not stand too close when in conversation with a woman who is not his wife.'

But Shanell explained: 'Keep in mind that savings, whether they have your name on it or not, it's in possession of The Order.

'They are the ones who have control of it, they are the ones who can touch it whenever, if ever, they want to. It's much more difficult for you to get a hold of your own money in that place.'

When her younger sisters started getting married ahead of her by 16, she said: 'Daniel was telling me nobody wants you. You're a rebel, you're sassy, nobody wants to marry you nobody wants you because of your attitude.'

She said her father, along with other adults, 'were very pressuring' and she eventually agreed to marry her first cousin aged 18.

'I was so sick of the pressure. I was so sick of hearing constantly from my friends from the adults that "Shanell you should get married, you should find your number-one choice,"' Shanell recalled.

'Finally, at that point, I was like "well if I say yes people will stop bugging me about it" and so I said yes.'

But their relationship did not go as planned as she revealed: 'There were things coming up during the engagement that were red flags and he was telling me my dad told me [things] about your family.

'He didn't get abusive until at least a few months later - I want to say it was like three or four months.

'The first time, he pushed to force himself on me and then I slapped him - and he got really offended about that.

'He was like "you slapped me" and I was like "well I told you no and you were pushing yourself on me."'

She said that it got to the point where she 'wasn't able to hold him off anymore.'

'He was verbally abusive... and when he got physically abusive the first time, he picked me up and he threw me against the wall and into the doorway. By the end of the day, he apologized,' Shanell said.

But she said that the abuse continued, adding: 'He was very careful not to punch me or hit me with his hand. He would kick me, he would throw me around like a rag doll but he was careful about not using his hand to strike me so that he could say "I never hit you."

'But of course there was the sexual abuse and a lot of the physical abuse besides that was in regards to me saying no and him pushing.'

Shanell claimed that her husband had also choked her to the point that she fell unconscious.

She said: 'I don't think it was for very long because when I came to I could see him just backing up from me and I immediately start crying. I'm facing the fact that this is my life.'

Shanell said that the group was deterred from calling the police and instead encouraged to sort things 'in house.'

But she was ultimately left with no choice and her ex-husband ended up in jail for domestic violence.

Shanell claimed 'a lot of guys who treat their wives that way,' adding 'for the most part they get away with it.'

She eventually decided to leave The Order - despite knowing that she would be ostracized and cut off from seeing her family.

She revealed that she had previously attempted to take her own life to 'end things' and did not want to go down that route again - so knew she had to escape her surroundings for good.

But the transition was not easy.

Shanell said: 'I tell people it's like your whole world is getting flipped upside down.

'The people you grew up with no longer in your life, your best friends no longer in your life, the places you shopped, the places you worked, you're no longer welcome.

'Pretty much all of the social activities - dances or sports games or holiday celebrations - [you're] no longer welcome....

'It's really difficult losing the people that you've loved for so many years and who seem to have loved you, simply because you're making the choice to leave abuse.'

Shanell, who has since remarried and has three daughters of her own, has now set out to help others escape their situations through her TV show, Escaping Polygamy.

Her brother, Val, and cousin Amanda Ray have also previously spoken about their own harrowing experiences of the cult.

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