I am one of thirty nine children born to my fathers six wives. I am amoung the thirty one Dad claimed as his own. I was born in secrecy and grew up hiding my identification.

There were four babies born in four months when I arrived. We sliffed into our enormous family comparitively unnoticed, in a sea of women and children whose psyhcological and emotional needs were considered to be unimportant and unnecessary. We were regimentallt trained in blind obediance and self sacrifice from our earliest memories.

My mother, like other polygamist women was in bondage to ignorance and fear that embracedour culture. She lived her life in quiet desperate servitude.

Boundaries were confused in our culture. All light work was done by women, which was interpteted as any work a woman might be able to do. The fact that women were producing children as fast as possible, was over whelming, yet gardening, care of animals and milking, care of crops, canning food, grinding flour and making bread, sewing clothes, home schooling children and serving men the best of what we had was expected.

When women were incapacitated through childbirth or illness, the responsibility fell to the children. Most of us grew up believing that it was some how our fault if we didn't have enough to eat. It was our fault if there wasn't enough water in the ditch to irrigate the crop. It was our fault if the range cows broke in and ate the garden. It was our fault if a child was hurt because we weren't there to prevent it while we worked in the fields, ground the flour and tried to make the world we knew, turn out right.

If we spoke to strangers, if they found out about us, we may be taken from our families by the welfare agents. If they found out we were polygamist children, Dad may go to prison ( which he ultimately did)and it would be our fault because we weren't legal. As polygamist children, we grew up feeling the weight of the world on our shoulders and constantly pursecuted by the evil out side world. We were too young to understand that our persecution came from inside our own private world.

Our religous beliefs were much like the Taliban The dual standard was an extreem halmark of FLDS thinking. Multiple partners took a man to the highest heavenly glory and women to the depths of hell. Men became Gods by spreading thier seed into glorious multitudes of people and women could face the death penalty for adultery ( to save thier souls and keep them in eternity, of course ). Eternal damnation and blood atonement were the primary glue that held polygamy together. Ignorance, poverty and isolation added the finishing touches.

I grew up isolated from non believers. At fifteen years old I married a stranger who paid cash to expatiate our union. To me the money exchange confirmed that men own women, like cattle, breeding stock. I had five children when the oldest was five, ultimately nine pregnancies and six living births.

It took years of planning to accomplish my escape. A few years later I was able to help my sister and her seven youngest escape. Today, my sister, Irene Spencer, is the author of "Shattered Dreams"a book about her life as a polygamist wife. The book is a New York Times best seller.

Before I knew that women had choices, I was the mother of a large family. Before I was wise enough to direct my own life, it had been taken in a direction to keep me in bondage and control. Before I learned how to be responsible for myself, I was responsible for six children.

Today my children are grown and in pursuit of thier own dreams. Today I have realized accomplishments I once only dreamed about. Today I share what I have learned, motivating others to take control of thier lives, thier dreams and thier sucesses.

Yes, I do have degrees, but I also acknowledge that I have graduated from many courses in life I never would have enrolled in if I had known what I was doing, but- I am a graduate.

Author's Bio: 

From polygamy and poverty to CEO of Tio Inc.
From a secret life to a renouned speaker. ( currently Are Gov. Toastmasters International).
From a person who had no rights to a community leader who teaches others how to keep thier neighborhoods safe by activating thier rights. From silence to TV,radio, the news and public speaking.