Wendell Jeffson, son of the infamous cult leader Warren Jeffs, talked about freedom with his family.
Jeffson grew up with dozens of siblings and was told to call his father’s 15-year-old wife a “mother.”
On April 26, Peacock will air “The Evil of Sermons: A Wife Fleeing with Warren Jeffs.”
Wendell Jeffson knows that he and his more than 50 brothers and sisters were brainwashed and manipulated by his father, the polygamy cult leader Warren Jeffs.
Growing up on a vast 1,700-acre ranch near Elderado, Texas, he was out of control of his life.
He was taught what to wear, eat, read and think — and he didn’t have toys.
Still, four years after leaving The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with his mother and sister, Jeffson does not want to be seen as a victim.
“I want to give myself a better, brighter future based on that experience from my past,” he said on Monday. “I don’t want people to see me as a sacrifice.”
Jeffson — who changed his surname from Jeff to symbolize his new beginning — spoke with insiders about his life in the island community prior to the Tuesday release of Peacock’s new release. Truk Lime documentary“Evil of Sermon: Wife Escapes with Warren Jeffs.”
Jeffson, his mother Vicky Thompson, and his sister Sarah are one of the former cult members who attended the show.
“It will explain Warren Jeffs’ role in establishing compounds in Texas, literally excluding us from the outside world and raising them, and making their cult FLDS,” Jeffson, 21, said. rice field.
Dozens of siblings and more than 70 “mothers”
Wendell Jeffson’s first memory was when he was three years old.
His father separated the children from his mother in Colorado City, Utah, and took them to the “Year of the Zion Ranch” in Texas.
“I wondered why I was away from my mother and why she was crying,” Jeffson said. “I was very young. I really couldn’t understand what was happening.”
About six months later, on the ranch where his mother joined him, everyone lived together in a huge house that Jeffson compared to a “hotel.”
The children woke up at 5am every day to help with breakfast and tidying up before being sent to the fields.
The four-year-olds were sent to the yard to pick up weeds, and it stayed there until they were called to prepare lunch. Then he said it would start over.
“There was no music, no internet, no television, no movies, of that nature,” Jeffson said. “He just created an environment where we were exposed only to what we wanted to be exposed to … he controlled the way we see the outside world in every way.”
By keeping his family and followers in the dark, the church remained intact after Jeffs was arrested in 2006.
It also helped his followers and their families to be unaware of the rampant pedophilia pretending to be married.
During regular traffic outages, cult leaders were detained on suspicion of illegal sexual activity with minors and raped from Utah and Arizona.
In 2008, the ranch was attacked after law enforcement agencies received hints on marriage and sexual abuse of minors.
Jeffson, who was seven at the time, said he was told that his father was in jail because he was “working for God” and the devil was working against him.
“I grew up with my 15-year-old mom,” Jeffson said. “Not so, but he was married to a 12-year-old child and they were told they were my mom. They weren’t much older than me.”
More than 400 children were taken from the facility and separated from their parents.
Jeffson and his sister had been away from their mother for six weeks, but eventually returned.
Even at an early age, when Jeffson had only a short excursion from the ranch, he began to question his father’s teachings.
For example, FLDS followers were taught to believe that colored people were bad, but Jeffson met non-white men and women who treated him kindly.
He also didn’t understand why he had to wear long sleeves and couldn’t play with toys.
Still, he wanted to start a date because he first took a true position in teaching until he was nearly 18 years old.
Until then, he had never been taught about sex and knew almost nothing about dating.
His mother sat down with him for the first time and explained that when they stayed in church, he would be assigned a wife, just as he was married to Jeffs.
“I remember telling my mother that I didn’t want anyone to control who I would marry or who I would spend my life with,” he said. “And she was like,’Absolutely, I agree.'”
His mother was already ready to leave the church, but it was Jeffson who still felt loyal to his father’s church.
Jeffson said that the church did not use physical threats to prevent them from leaving, but living in the community is a fishbowl, and constant psychological abuse is sufficient to prevent many believers from getting lost. I said it was pressure.
“When you left FLDS, you were told that you would fall, like burning in hell,” he said. “We didn’t have guns or knives. It was emotional and very manipulative. So there was really a fight.”
After a few more discussions with his mother, they decided to leave the group. He got into the construction industry and rented a house for his mother and sister.
Then he had to learn about himself: from the basics like what he likes to eat and watch on TV, to revisiting his faith.
He also learned that taking a child bride is a crime and what it means.
“It’s no wonder he’s in jail when I’m taught these things. He was married to a 12-year-old girl and had sex with a 12-year-old girl,” he said. .. “He knew better, so he deserves to go to jail.”
Jeffson is proud of his family for having the courage to leave FLDS.
He is currently a student and works in the insurance industry. He also engages and lives in Guatemala.
His sister Sarah is graduating from high school this month.
His mother remarried and recently a boy was born.
“She is a very strong woman,” Jeffson said of his mother. “She is my hero because she really paved the way for us to leave FLDS.”
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