My name is Kristyn Decker. I the 12th child born to Owen Allred the “prophet” of the Apostolic United Brethren, while I lived polygamy and raised my 7 children.
My mother was the first of my father’s 13 wives. She was more often than not, depressed, crying and angry. She and my father fought over his inability to be with her and her 8 children because of his ever increasing family and responsibilities. When I was 4 years old, she went to work and to nursing school to help support my father’s massive family. Unknowingly, she left me in the care of her neglectful and abusive sister wife. (This too was common in other homes around me. Sister-wives taking their anger out on the other wives’ children.) and two siblings and a cousin who molested me, two of my sisters and 2 brothers. Years later when I told my father, he minimized it as if it was okay; and for years did nothing about numerous victims who had come forth. Fundamentalist teachings were and are: to protect the principle of plural marriage at any cost- which means you are justified in lying, stealing and breaking any laws to keep people locked in, and polygamy looking praiseworthy.
After too many years of religious/cultic submission, of lies, secrets, poverty, abuse, jealousy, suicidal depression and loneliness. After watching others try to endure the same, after five decades of anguish and lies—of watching myself and others fail a commandment fraught with impossible rules and threats of heaven and hell, I chose heaven.
I found my way out of hell and began to help others find their own truth, and genuine happiness. After my second book, Fifty Years in Polygamy: Big Secrets and Little White Lies, was published, I quit teaching to publicize it; help women and children leave polygamy, and to advocate for them. While doing all of that, I spoke freely about the abuses and human rights violations that I know were and are still prevalent in ALL polygamous sects. Everywhere I went I was hearing hordes of appalling stories from more victims and of all ages. It was this ongoing anguish, and hearing of pro-polygamy advocates full of propaganda who were “working the system” to get their way, that roused my desire to gather like-minded people who had experienced, and who knew of the ongoing abuses. I found a few in the masses (Sound Choices Coalition), who could or would also risk their newly found sanity and relationships to speak the truth.
There are thousands more who have left polygamy, who wish they could rally to support this cause, but don’t dare speak out or write for fear they will be cut off from seeing their children and grandchildren who are still imprisoned in polygamy. In addition to all of our fears, is that of fundamentalist infiltrators. The fact is that it is almost impossible to trust anyone who works for the government in the state of Utah. Especially if you are a victim or working with one. There are thousands of polygamist believers from every community and cult who have convinced others they work with, of their lies, and/or have infiltrated themselves into nearly every government systems and program possible. Polygamists have their own lawyers, social workers, CPAs, police officers, etc., who exploit the system to protect the “principal of plural marriage.”
Polygamous groups and independent polygamists vote for those they believe they can control and manipulate. They bribe and threaten wherever possible. These do-gooders are there to cover anything that is not appealing so they can keep polygamy looking wonderful.
Polygamy needs to be prosecuted - not just the crimes. Here is why: For years, Utah’s AG’s office has said, they can’t prosecute without victims who will come forward and press charges. And because there have been such a pitiful few victims among the thousands, the AG’s office and other lawmakers believe “things are not so bad among those polygamists.” When in fact most victims in polygamy are terrified to come forward for the above reasons I mentioned: infiltration of polygamists on the outside and the inside threats that are pervasive, numerous and terrifying. If victims report and don’t get help they need, or win their plight the forthcoming consequences are often incomprehensible and too harsh to bare. I have girls tell me they “won’t report abuses anymore. It doesn’t do one bit of good.”
Sexual abuse and incest are prominent in polygamy. As a child, teen and adult, I was a victim of sexual, physical and verbal abuse. So were several of my sisters and brother. ALL of the perpetrators were from men who were related and from men whom our parents trusted.
Over my growing years, and up to this day, I there is no end to the reports of sexual and deviant abuse from others who are leaving, and from some who are still in. Even the current AUB polygamous prophet has been accused by several of his children and adult women of molesting them when they were young. There is no end to these ongoing perversions.
Since I left polygamy, I’ve been personally involved with 15 girls and women who have also left or literally escaped polygamy. All but one of them reported being raped by a father or a close relative in the cult. I hear from other advocates and professionals that the stats are close to the same. Sexual abuse and incest is a generational taught and learned behavior (I’d safely say from my own experiences and that of others), among the vast majority of polygamous families.
Most of this generational nightmare is because children raised in these huge polygamous families are raising children. They live without the proper care and guidance they need and deserve. Too many males and adults have open access to children who have not been taught anything but strict obedience to their elders—mostly to fathers and brothers, whose priesthood rules the household, no matter the victims’ ages.
The most horrendous Verbal and physical abuses are occurring in these societies; yet are still being concealed by polygamous parents, and those who have infiltrated our systems as well as from in-house authorities who either believe the persons who are lying and covering up, are begin bribed to keep quiet and send victims back and/or have been threatened themselves. These incidents are way too numerous to list, but here are a few examples:
Three men (under the direction of an AUB council member), kidnapped a 14 year-old boy. They beat, molested, ritualistically cut him in several places, shaved his pubic hair and his head, painted his body with a purple die, safety-pinned a note to his chest, about him being bad and evil boy, and then dropped him over hill in mid-winter, leaving him to die. Young people who were in-the-know were threatened to keep it quiet or they’d get the same treatment. Oder Not one adult stood up for him—not even his mother, who was married as a plural wife to his cruel stepfather. Most of those abusers have died; and to this day, justice has not been served.
Many men have been known to be physically abusive to their wives and children. One man in particular had beaten his toddler many times and finally killed the child by kicking him up the stairs. When the man’s legal wife realized the child had died on the way to the hospital, she drove him home. They buried him in the back-yard or town cemetery and made most group people believe the child fell down the stairs and died. His own mother, and family and community who knew differently kept it secret until after the father passed away when nothing could be done to him. When the incident was reported to a Social Worker, the body was exhumed. The coroner found numerous older breaks in that poor babies bones.
When I was still in the AUB, but trying to find my way out, my father who was the AUB prophet, had been busy making public statements claiming that abuses were rare in the AUB, and that if they were existent, they’d be reported to the authorities. My sister and I told our father about several situations that were never reported. Later, when the knowledge came to me through a witness that someone close to us was beating and locking her kids in closets for hours on end, I told my father he needed to get the mother some psychological help and report it; and that if he didn’t, I would. The next time I saw him, he said he talked to the husband, who would deal with it, and the family moved to another state.
There are too many incidents of trafficking of women and children to mention also. Aside from the outrageous number of children that we know Warren Jeffs has stolen from their parents and given to other men and women, this incident comes from and independent man who has three or four wives and probably at least 45 impoverished children. Several years ago, he traded two of his underage daughters to an old man in Colorado for some farm equipment. The man’s niece reported this to a law enforcement agency. When they went to the door of the old man in Colorado to talk with these under-age child brides, the “brain-washed” (as all of us are and were) girls said they didn’t have birth certificates and were legally old enough to choose that “marriage”. The police left those little girls there to be violated and produce more babies than they too could ever care for. Had the laws against POLYGALY BEEN enforced, these young girls could have been rescued from their “stalk-home-syndrome and received some help to live normal happy lives. Their father should have been prosecuted for trafficking his daughters.
Tax fraud is still and was part of nearly every polygamous family. The way I experienced and saw the fraud came men and women getting “paid under-the-table.” There were many who never filed their taxes at all, and tried to excuse themselves using “constitutional” ways to avoid being involved with the government—unless of course, it was to take from the government taxes and health benefits, as they or we felt “we deserved.” There were and are several polygamous CPA’s who know how to help polygamists bulk the system to the max when it comes to filing their taxes.
It is a well-known fact that food-stamp fraud is also a major problem in many polygamous families. For years now, numerous FLDS men and women have used, and still use their food cards to purchase food that they take to their groups’ ware-house. This food is then dispersed by leaders who decide who is “worthy and who is not” to receive the commodities—not the children who should be benefitting by these resources. All of these people are required to sign an agreement that they will not give or share the food away that is meant for their children. Yet many of us participated in that. We have watched this happen again and again; as well as the on-going trading of food stamps for cash, taking other families or friends shopping in lieu of favors such as baby-sitting, sewing, etc., claiming children who have moved out, and not reporting other income sources.
Though my husband and most of the polygamous men we knew tried to make a living for our huge polygamous families; it was and is nearly impossible! We know that that billions of state, and federal dollars are donated to support polygamous men and women who believe they should have as many babies as these women’s bodies can produce, NO matter that they can’t physically and emotionally support their children. We raised 11 children in poverty and also had to ask for government assistance to get by. I hardly know a family who hasn’t been there, or who isn’t in this situation.
Incest is also copious in polygamy and illegal in Utah yet that we are aware of, no one has been prosecuted for this crime of cruelty to the abundance of deformed infants who are produced from these relationships. It’s also a publicized fact that most of the World’s Fumarase Deficiency cases are found in the FLDS Polygamy sect. (http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/195535) Other significant birth defects and disabilities are prevalent in the Kingston and independent cults where these polygamous clans have been inbreeding for generations.
About 15 to 20 years ago my father began justifying this type of procreating also. He claimed, “There are just not enough good men in the world…” Among the numerous inter-marriages in the AUB, one of my nieces married to her first cousin. How long will this “informed” child abuse be justified in the name of religious freedom and go un-checked, while society pays for the astronomical expenses to care for these infants and children?
In the past years of my life and recently with the Brown family, I’ve known of numerous cases of polygamous men and women who have manipulated Utah marriage laws to benefit their polygamous families. Both legal and “spiritual” marriages, as well as legal and “spiritual” divorces often take place to: achieve tax breaks, insurance benefits, potential adoptions, immigration status, welfare, etc. I am aware of a few cases where a partner has claimed they are making alimony payments to their ex legal spouse, who has now become a “spiritual” spouse. While they are not really making any alimony payments, they claim the tax breaks given for alimony payments.
Depression and suicidal thinking is constant in both women and men who really care for others and have integrity. My brother, had 3 wives and 17 children. Just like me and my women friends, my brother also felt suicidal and depressed far too often. He couldn’t make ends meet, nor could he be the husband and father he wanted to be. He frequently felt like a failure and a fraud for even trying to live the impossible way he was taught to believe. After too many years, he too discovered the insanity of that bogus plight. He came to realize that no man is capable of the massive requirements of having plural families. No man can have a close physical, spiritual, supportive relationship with each woman he sleeps with, nor can he love them equally, or be there for their needs and desires. He can’t manage his jobs and homes, or care for and equally love his children. He can’t be an attentive good father. And he can’t be there to provide for their physical, educational and emotional needs either.
In conclusion, I’ve compiled a list of 51 books that have mostly been written by first-hand witnesses and victims testifying of the HARMS OF POLYGAMY. These authors represent millions of like-minded human beings who are begging our legal systems and courts to keep polygamy illegal, a criminal action and to eventually eradicate polygamy as we did slavery. Please crate justice for your children, grandchildren and for future generations and society as a whole.