Inside Warren Jeffs' Polygamous Group

Photo: "The Lost Boy," by Brent Jeffs and Maia Szalavitz

Former Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints member Brent Jeffs details his life inside the polygamous sect in "Lost Boy."

Brent Jeffs, who is the nephew of imprisoned FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, walked away from the religious group in which he grew up because it hid a dark reality.

He was the first to file a sexual abuse lawsuit against his uncle, and in his book, he discusses how in FLDS girls are valued property, but boys are expendable.

Read an excerpt of this book below and check out more interesting titles in the "GMA" Library.

Heaven or Hell

Every child believes he's special. But when you are number ten of twenty, with three " sister- mothers"—two of whom are full- blooded sisters—and a grandfather whom thousands of people believe speaks directly to God, it can be hard to ?gure out what "special" really means. All told, I have roughly sixty- ?ve aunts and uncles on my dad's side and twenty- two on my mom's—with probably thousands of cousins. In families as large as mine, even keeping track of your own siblings—let alone cousins and aunts and uncles—is dif?cult. As a grandson of Rulon Jeffs and nephew of Warren Jeffs, it once seemed that I was destined for high honor in the FLDS. My family had what our church called "royal blood." We were direct descendants of our prophet through my father's line. My mother, too, is the child of a prophet, who split from our group in 1978 to lead his own polygamous sect. When I was little, my family was favored, in the church's elite. I was assured that there was a place for me in the highest realms of heaven and at least three wives for me right here on earth once I attained the Melchizedek priesthood. I was in a chosen family in a chosen people, visiting sacred land near end times. I would one day become a god, ruling over my own spinning world.

So why would I ever abandon such status and rank? In the world of the FLDS, things are not always what they seem. The shiny, smiling surfaces often hide a world of rot and pain. And even royal blood and being born male can't protect you from sudden changes in its convoluted power structure.

Outsiders tend to think our form of polygamy must be a great deal for us men. You get sexual variety without guilt: in fact, you are commanded by God to have multiple partners and the women are expected to go along with it. Indeed, they are supposed to be happy about doing so and obediently serve you. This is the only way for all of you to get to the highest realms of heaven.

To many men, that sounds like heaven right there, without any need for the afterlife part. They focus on the sex—fantasizing about a harem of young, beautiful women, all at their beck and call. They don't think about the responsibility—or the balancing act needed to keep all of those women happy, or even just to minimize their complaints. During the one full year I attended public school, the few guys who befriended me rather than ridiculing me were fascinated by it all.

But while it might seem good in theory, in practice, at least in my experience, it's actually a recipe for misery for everyone involved. In the FLDS anyway, polygamy and its power structure continuously produce a constant, exhausting struggle for attention and resources.

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