Ally Wall spent most of her life in hiding. She was a member of the polygamist sect Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lead by Warren Jeffs, who they consider to be a prophet of God. He’s currently serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for the sexual assault of underage girls. Ally tells her story about her life in the FLDS community, how she educated herself on the actuality of the sect she was born in, and how she ultimately made the decision to leave.
“I called my brother on the outside and I was like, ‘Look, like, I really miss you’. I was just crying, like, this doesn’t make sense. I’m so confused. I’m so… I’m so mentally strained, like, I did not know what to do. And he said, ‘Allie, those men that you were taught to respect and adore as God on Earth are some of the most wicked and immoral men you will ever meet in your entire life.’ And of course that got me all riled up and I said, ‘No, I don’t believe you. You are just trying to deceive me and tell me things that aren’t true to get me to turn against them.’ And he was like, ‘No. You can go look at this for yourself.’ And I denied it and I denied it and finally, I was like, ‘You know what? I need to find out for myself.’”
“They believe in the original doctrine of polygamy, the United Order. You donate everything - physically, mentally, emotionally, time-wise - you list everything out from month to month and you turn that in and basically the church then has control over your physical belongings, your time, and definitely has control over your mental abilities. The reality is, it is not an order of equality. I was like, ‘Why can’t we have beets? Why can’t we have potatoes? *laughs* Why can’t we have chocolate?’ You know, like, these very odd restrictions, and it was around that time that I kind of broke.”
“And I was talking to my mother about it and I was like, ‘I don’t… I don’t understand this. This doesn’t feel right,’ and she just kept saying, ‘Put it on the shelf. Put it on the shelf. One day God will answer those questions.’ One day I came to her and said, ‘Mother, my shelf is broken.”
“So I went and found me some internet and I looked it up. And… When I heard that sex tape, my whole world crashed... Of Warren [Jeffs] having sex with MaryAnne, who is my cousin. I, at that point, didn’t know who I was. I had been lied to my entire life. I didn’t know who to trust or what to do. I never really had a father image throughout my life, because I was taken away and reassigned - mother was reassigned to different men. Like, I had three different fathers. So I never really had that bond, and I always wanted that bond with a father, and she would just say, ‘Well, Uncle Warren will be that for you.’ I literally, I clung to him. Well, when that shattered, I realized I had nothing left to stay there for. I loved my mother with everything in my heart but I knew that I could not live an entire life I had no belief in.”
“I decided I needed to change something. I called my brother and I said, ‘Come get me.’ He was like, ‘Are you serious?’ and I said, ‘Yeah. I’m done. I’m not… I’m not going to do this.’”
“I packed all my stuff, and just quietly got everything ready. Walked out the door, loaded it in the truck. They took me down to St. George and dropped me off to see my brother. That was a really, beyond terrifying moment in my life. Although I knew Warren was who he was and what he had done, I had still made the very clear decision to leave anything that was familiar or that I knew. And take a giant leap off of a cliff I had no idea whether I was going to land on my feet or splatter on rocks. I didn’t know. It didn’t make the process any easier.”
“We got to where we were meeting my other family here, and I was just like a zombie. I didn’t... I was so numb and my mind was like, frozen. And my sister said, ‘Do you want to change your clothes?” and I was like, ‘Yes, I want to take my dress off.' And so I took that all off and I was wearing this T-shirt and I was wearing jeggings, and I felt extremely naked and very uncomfortable. Like I said, I was looking in the mirror, like, ‘This is the most unflattering thing I have seen in my whole life.’”
“I’m not going to lie. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It was brutal. I was shattered mentally and emotionally. And I didn’t know who I could trust or what to believe - What was right. What was wrong. What was okay or what wasn’t okay. I am not a tamed soul and I don’t do well with people stepping into my personal space. And what I mean by my personal space is controlling every aspect of my life. I wanted to have the freedom to make my own choices that I didn’t have there - To eat whatever I wanted to eat. To wear whatever I wanted to wear. To be want I wanted to be.”
“I love to be that voice of encouragement for another woman. You are stronger than any wound. That wound will heal, but that scar will always be there. And that’s okay. Because for you, that is proof right there that you are stronger than any wound. You are stronger than any scar on your heart. And that creates for you a beautiful mosaic of your strength, your resilience, and your courage. No one can take that from you because you survived that. You healed from it. And you get to build beyond it. Nothing defines you, your value, or what you can have in this life. I get to preach that to myself sometimes in the mirror. *snaps* You are that success that you want to be. You’re taking that step towards that future that you want to build.”
Ally has been living in the Salt Lake City area for the past 2 years and is engaged to a man who also left the polygamous community. She’s currently involved in a community called Holding Out Help, which is an organization that helps those who leave a polygamous group find the resources needed to make the switch from isolation to independence. The group is based out of Draper, Utah and more information about them can be found here.
This segment is part of an ongoing original Utah Public Radio series, “Objectified: More Than A Body.” Support for the program comes from the Utah Women’s Giving Circle, a grassroots community with everyday philanthropists raising the questions and raising the funds to empower Utah women and girls. Information available here.
To access the full Objectified series of stories, click here.