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Life After Polygamy: VICE Documentary Review (CW: Rape)

ByDeborah Staber

Oct 4, 2016

VICE strives to challenge the accepted with its series of 15 minute documentaries. Life After Polygamy is no exception.

To be polygamous is to have more than one wife or husband at the same time. The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints (FLDS) is a polygamous sect straddling the Utah and Arizona state lines.

Prophet Warren Jeffs had 80 wives, with an astonishing 24 being under the age of 18. Briell Decker, his 65th wife, endured eight years of marriage before she managed to escape. With VICE, Briell revisits her hometown hoping to reclaim her home from the FLDS, which she shared with 45 other siblings, three mothers, and her father.

Amongst harrowing footage of her previous home, Briell reflects back on her time in the crammed house, her father, and her husband. She explains that Jeffs would often ask her how she felt or what she wanted, claiming that it was what God wanted. To Briell this is all she ever knew; she thought this was all normal. Her older sister was also married to him. VICE does interview the sister as well, however more attention could have been paid her, since she was never deemed fit for marriage because she was heavier. Briell even admits that even though her time was tough, she had it pretty good compared to most.

The women could theoretically leave the United Order at any time. However, as Briell was warned, they ran the risk of being raped and becoming ‘used up’ if they did so. Alarmingly, Briell was quick to mention that she saw the threat of being raped and used up as not such a bad option if, in comparison, her sister was praying to die and her mother was losing her mind.

While speaking about her options at the time, it is driven home that these females had absolutely nothing to lose at this point. Since her escape nearly 30 years ago she still suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In 2008 Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison for over 20 years. Justice was finally served.

Image: Keoni Cabral @ Flickr

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