Episode 261 | Rachel Jeffs Interview

Today I am joined by Rachel Jeffs, author of the new book Breaking Free: How I Escaped Polygamy, the FLDS Cult, and My Father, Warren Jeffs. In this show we talk about her life in the FLDS cult, how some friends smuggled audio books in to her, the off- limits library she and her sisters would sneak books out of, her escape from the cult, life on the outside, her journey to penning her memoir and much more.


As Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), serves a sentence of life plus 20 years in a federal penitentiary in Texas for child sexual assault, he still has an iron grip on the notorious polygamous cult. With seventy-eight wives and fifty-three children, the self-proclaimed prophet’s control of FLDS extends wide and deep, and many of his followers remain silent about his shocking transgressions. Rachel Jeffs, one of his many daughters, is not among them. In a courageous personal memoir of resilience and redemption, BREAKING FREE: How I Escaped Polygamy, the FLDS Cult, and my Father, Warren Jeffs, Rachel chronicles the shocking details her singular life, from her insular childhood to her eventual liberation, for the first time revealing the facts about her father’s sexual abuse, which began when she was eight years old.

“The most important rule in the FLDS religion is this: Never question the Prophet,” Rachel writes with the hindsight and strength of a survivor. Since that self-appointed prophet was her father, Rachel grew up not questioning the unconventional daily realities she lived or the personal ordeals to which she was subjected. Her closest sister was also her cousin, their mothers sisters. Living in rural poverty, often with little to eat, the children were raised through indoctrination and humiliation. Rachel was singled out by her father for “special time” in his office that led to years of sexual abuse. When she revealed what was going on to her mother, nothing changed. Placed into a polygamous marriage herself, she was sometimes locked away in “houses of hiding” and physically separated from her own children in order to prevent her from leaving the church or giving testimony against her father.

Rachel ultimately mustered the courage to leave, committing the greatest sin of all, which brought denouncement and shunning from the only family and friends she’d every known. BREAKING FREE is a brave and heartfelt testimony that takes readers deep inside this infamous cult. Befitting her upbringing, Rachel Jeffs writes with unvarnished simplicity and absolute conviction as she documents all that happened to her while she desperately struggled to end her living hell. Her emotional relationship with Warren Jeffs remains complicated. She still calls him “father” and cringes to think of him shackled at the ankles in prison. “I am not a victim, and I do not want anyone’s sympathy,” she insists. “I wrote this book to help others who have suffered from similar experiences, whether in the FLDS church, or in thrall to some other circumstance beyond their control. I want people to know that it is possible to not only overcome their trials, but also to use those difficult experiences to help others. No matter where you came from or what you’ve been through, we are all in this together.”

About Rachel Jeffs:

Rachel Jeffs grew up in the FLDS Church under the leadership of her grandfather. After his death, her father, Warren Jeffs, took over as President of the Church and moved her family to the twin cities of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah. While Warren Jeffs moved in and out of prison, Rachel was sent to houses of hiding in Las Vegas and Colorado to prevent her from leaving the church and giving testimony against her father. She left the Church in 2015 and now lives in Idaho with her family.


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