Mary Mackert is the sibling of Kathleen and Rena Mackert, whose testimony I described on 8th December 2010.
Mary now lives in northern Idaho, having left the FLDS in 1985. I'm reporting her words as I heard them earlier this afternoon. At times she became quite emotional, and her voice dropped to little more than a whisper, so it was hard to understand some of what she said.
"The FLDS believe they are the true Mormons. I was born near Colorado City. My Mother was the third wife of my father. Every generation from me back to Joseph Smith has practised polygamy. I was my father's sixth child, and as the family grew he became less and less involved with us children. I had 27 siblings. When I was fifteen he took a fourth wife, who already had 4 children. So you see there weren't enough hours in the day for a man to be a real father. My mother worked full-time, and had to turn over every pay cheque to my father.
At an early age I was initiated into the 'Secret of Special Love' [i.e. child sexual abuse] by my Dad. I found out that he had the same 'special love' with my sister, then with my other sister. He scared me. I had to do it. He was totally unavailable to us emotionally. When I grew up I was attracted to abusive men.
My mother was very strong. She had seven children and taught me to love the Church, but because of her own hurt she too was unavailable to us emotionally.
Mom was the favourite wife, which caused a lot of jealousy. Everyone was vying for attention and you were easily ostracized. You had to be content not to have your innermost needs met. Sarcasm was used a lot.
After the events of Short Creek in the fifties [when authorities attempted to break up the polygamous commune there] I couldn't sing any patriotic songs. God Bless America? No! We were taught that the police were our enemies, and I was 13 years old before I lost my fear of them. At school, I really wanted to wear a mini-skirt like all the other girls, but of course I had to wear an ankle-length dress. So I got a mini-skirt and wore it under my dress.
Celestial marriage was taught to all the girls as they grew up. You got married and had babies. And obeyed your husband. That was it. By the time I was 13 or 14 I was ready for marriage because of these teachings. When I was 17 I married a man who was 50 years old, older than my father. Wilfred was right hand man to the Prophet, Rulon Jeffs; he had his own business and high status. Although I had a driver's license I was not allowed to drive after I got married. My husband was a very secretive man. We had 5 boys, but I was not allowed to get birth certificates for them for many years. I had no share at all in the financial aspects of the business, and was always short of money. I had to ask for everything. It was hard to be always asking for money for sanitary products, and I always had to give him the change. He had definite dress preferences, and liked me to wear pastel colours with flowers all over them, and lace on the front. As with my father, all my choices were now made for me by my husband. I had three changes of clothes, underwear and all - that was it.
It wasn't about 'This is Love', it was lonely. No discussion was allowed among the women - everything had to go to my husband. There was no true intimacy. Life was very competitive - there was a cold silent war going on every day. There were altogether 35 children in the family - not enough hours in the day to father them. He had no time for us, and I wanted a home of my own. This wasn't a want, it was a need. I decided to get a job, so I left and found work, but I was forcibly brought back by my husband's older sons and locked in a room for two days. I decided to have no more to do with him or the FLDS. There was an intervention by Rulon Jeffs, but it was just 'There, there girl' - a pat on the head.
I had no money. My husband gave me $20 'to get what you need'. It was the first time I had ever been free to spend money as I wanted. It gave me my freedom. I left on 2 September 1985, and I remember that date like a birthday.
I had health problems - stress, hypoglycemia, diabetes - I had to keep off sugar. When I ate I was all wound up, when I didn't eat I couldn't do a thing. But I had chosen to live, and to live free.
I wanted to get my High School diploma. When they tested me, I came out in the 91st percentile for Math! I got a job as a secretary, but that paid almost nothing and it was hard to live. In those days it was shameful to apply for public assistance, but now they know how to make use of the system to get assistance money. Eventually I went to College and got my Bachelor's degree.
My husband's last wife was mentally challenged, but she was good at repetitive jobs. So they got her to do the laundry.
The girls got younger and younger when they married - some us young as twelve. At that age they hadn't established a personality.
After I left I had trouble with relations with men and with women. I was angry and hurt, disconnected from my feelings. I'm content now, but your thoughts are a fixture. I'm over my depression now, but I find men are still unavailable emotionally."