I felt so alone and crippled coming from the FLDS lifestyle with nowhere to go and no one to rely on apart from friends who had already done all they could do for me. I found myself at the Draper Police Station with the victims advocate discussing my options of where my twin boys and myself would go. The advocate then began telling me of this amazing organization, Holding Out Help, who helped women in my exact dangerous and desperate situation. I was very hesitant about letting anyone of the world help us, because of what the word, aka the “gentiles,” thought about the FLDS community. With the hope in my heart that there really were people in “the world” that loved unconditionally and wanted to help, I went to this home with nothing but an overnight bag and the three broken scared hearts.
Before we knew it, we found ourselves surrounded by love and support no matter where we came from or what I had done in my life. They provided us with a safe home and very necessary essential items such as love, hope, clothing, food, therapy and legal assistance. Most important to me was they cared for us and had our best interest at heart, which was the most amazing feeling ever.
Shortly after that, I was able to get onto my own two feet in my own place, working and all three of us receiving education, which I had never had in my life because of the lifestyle I was raised in. We are all three very healthy emotionally and physically and living an extremely happy, fulfilling and flourishing life I had never imagined living before leaving my situation. We could have never done this without HELP.
I left my marriage and the polygamist group that I was raised in. I first received help from Holding Out Help a year ago when I first started thinking seriously about doing something to improve my children’s lives. I called their hotline a few times, which was a huge relief since I had spent so many years bottling everything up. When I did leave, they provided a place for us to stay, and they made my kids feel like they were on vacation. They talked to me everyday that first week to make sure I was doing okay with my rollercoaster of emotions. They provided me with gift cards so that we could buy the things we needed after leaving most of our things behind. One of them escorted me to Workforce Services to help me apply for financial assistance and they were able to find me a really good lawyer who was willing to take my case pro bono. When we moved into a house, they were able to find all of the furniture we needed from people who just wanted to help out. And still, after all of these months, they still call me just to see how I’m doing and to ask what they can do for me. They just informed me they have people who want to help us get Christmas gifts for my kids, which was such a relief since I was just comparing my budget with my kids’ Christmas lists. I am so grateful for what Holding Out Help has done for us, and I hope to someday pay it forward.
I left my polygamist community suddenly in response to an abusive situation. I did not have a clear plan in place as to how I would be able to take care of my four young children and myself. In much dismay, I found myself on the doorstep of a wonderful family of strangers willing to help us. We had not much more than a few garbage bags full of clothes and belongings. Due to the teachings that I had been exposed to over the years, I had a profound distrust of “gentiles.” In contradiction to this, we were instead surrounded by love, and all our needs were met too. We were provided with food, shelter, guidance, counseling and new found friends. Without this support, it would have been near impossible to transition into a world of normalcy and acceptance. I will be forever grateful for this help, and hope that many more to follow will find this same kind of encouragement and tangible support.
It’s very hard for many in polygamous communities to leave either because they don’t know where to look for help or because they don’t have enough trust to reach out, particularly when help might come with the price tag of joining some other religious group or being involved in promoting hatred. Many in polygamous groups have no friends or relatives outside of their group. It may seem to them that they are completely alone with no one to turn to. The problems of leaving, often without resources, are complex.
I believe Holding Out Help is the first organization to cover all possible bases in making a new life possible. One of the greatest and possibly most urgent needs is legal aid. When a woman may be in a legal marriage and there are children involved, legal services are vital. There will be very few women, leaving polygamist communities with their children, able to come up with the fees asked for by lawyers.
As to other assistance, HELP hasn’t needed to “reinvent the wheel.” Where there are state agencies in existence, which may be able to help, then those resources are being used. From my own personal experience what is really useful is to have this information freely available to individuals or families, saving hours if not weeks of research to find the appropriate agencies.
For me, HELP’s effectiveness lies in the way in which it offers unconditional love and aid to those who may contact them, whether women, teenagers or men. Having complete strangers tell me they didn’t care whether I was Mormon, Jewish, Muslim or atheist – they just wanted to love me, brought warmth and hope into a very bleak period of my life. HELP made the difficult changes that I wanted to make, a reality. Thank you for being willing to reach out.