Video testimony from transcripts of January 11, 2011.
Mary Louise Mackert
- filmed on June 25th in Creston, British Columbia
- she lives in Bonners Ferry, Idaho and has for about six years.
- she was born in Short Creek now the Hilldale, Utah side of Colorado City community.
- she was her mother's first child and her mother was her father's third wife
- her mother (Myra Kunz Mackert) was from a family that had been Mormons since the time of Joseph Smith but her father (Clyde Chapman Mackert) was converted to the faith - Myra used Chapman as a surname.
- her family lived in Colorado City until she finished second grade - she was her father's sixth child and he still had time for his children then but as the family grew he became increasingly distant and she found herself grovelling for attention - she suggests that each of her siblings would have a different perspective depending on their birth order in the family - when she was 15 her father married his fourth wife who already had children which made 31 children in the family
- she feels that polygamy makes men sperm donors and they can't even really make an adequate living to support their families - her mother worked outside the home to support her children and paid for the absolute bare necessities and bills and then turned over the surplus to her dad to support the family as a whole.
- when the family moved to Salt Lake City the wives all lived in separate homes with their children which were all within a six mile radius of each other - the children attended different school but they saw each other for family Sunday School and various family activities.
- her relationship with her father was impacted by him violating her at a young age and having her keep their special secret which she found out later he had also arranged with several of her sisters - she has always sought out men who were abusive and emotionally unavailable.
- her mother was strong, independent and hardworking supporting and raising seven children and Mary learned to work hard and love to cook and have a clean home and love all those things that are domestic
- she said that her mother was her father's favourite wife and that the jealousy and competitiveness of the other wives impacted her own relationships with them. - they had to be content in not having their needs met and while it wasn't an open all out catfight there was still passive aggressive reactions to the tension.
- she grew up afraid of police officers who might take her dad away to jail.
- she was taught as a child that getting married and having babies was what women were to do and the younger you got married the more spiritually mature you were said to be - she began to hear comments about her spiritual maturity at about age 13 when she also began menstruating.
- She fell in love at 15 with the son of her father's fourth wife who was a step-brother and her mother would not allow it as the boy's mother had been divorced three times and was converted out of the mainstream Mormon church to polygamy. She felt that the boy would never take a second wife and likely abandon Mary and leave her to raise her children alone. - she remembered talk of the women about a young woman who was a first wife and had to tend to her husband's sex drive alone which resulted in her being pregnant every nine months and that all she needed was for him to take a second wife to help her with him.
- at 17 she married Fred Alvin Draper (aka Uncle Bill) who was 52 and almost 3 years older than her father.
- her sweetheart (step-brother) was away on Mission and her older sister who was married to Roy Johnson invited her to come visit over Christmas holiday - she was excited because she thought she'd be able to see her sweetheart but felt betrayed when she found out that they had sent him as he'd been very home sick. - she cried and cried but finally realized that they would not allow her to marry her step-brother and so agreed to an arranged marriage - she was told to go and pray for her own revelation - meantime she got into trouble for wearing too short of a skirt to school and was sent to see Uncle Bill for discipline. She realized that marriage to him would give her prominence and wealth and so she took that as her revelation on marriage partner.
- he would not let her drive or finish high school ( she completed grade 11)
- she had to use the ficticious surname Hill for herself and her children and identify her husband and Jonathan Hill to avoid detection of polygamy. - she had five children with Fred Draper and was his six wife of seven.
- she had to go to her husband to ask for money for personal shopping and return the change - she was told specifically what to wear to the point of the pattern for her dresses being chosen by him.
- the first time she went clothes shopping after leaving the community she remembers sitting on the floor of the dressing room crying because she had no idea what to choose without instructions.
"It wasn't about we're in love and this is wonderful. It was this is a business arrangement. I do this and I go to heaven and the bonus is I got to have children and I wanted children."
- her husband was very secretive and the right hand man of the prophet so her marriage to him was secret even from her own siblings.
- she found being a plural wife lonely as her husband would not allow the women to discuss things amongst themselves - if you had a problem with someone else he would act as mediator and she discovered later that he was telling each party what they wanted to hear, making them distrustful of each other and himself.
- there was one wife after her that was the mentally challenged daughter of Rulon Jeffs and that the wedding ceremony was different for her in that all the wives stood together as bridesmaids and the first wife placed the new bride's hand in the husbands as a strong message of welcome for her - she had one child with the husband and wanted more but had a very rough delivery and decided not to have more - she has the mental capacity of a 12 year old and is in charge of the family's laundry processing.
- eventually her husband had 35 children and her children having been raised to be self-sufficient and well disciplined did not attract their father's attention as he ran from one crisis to the next. - she was favourite wife because she caused him no grief and made no demands but this created problems for her children as they began to realize that an increase in mischief got them attention. - she asked for a home of her own and argued with her husband about being neglected. - she left to get a job and find an apartment for her and her children when her husband wouldn't provide it and stayed with a friend. -her husband sent his older boys to abduct her and locked her in a room for two days where she was interrogated and accused of having broken her marriage covenant. - when her husband couldn't make her confess he took her for an interview with the prophet Rulon Jeffs and said that if he couldn't convince her to settle into the proper ways he would let her go. - she left that day with $20 a friend had given her in her pocket and feeling empowered because it wasn't her husband's money - she got her High School graduation diploma and completed a secretarial program - then she got a job as a secretary but wasn't making enough to get off public assistance - she got financial assistance because she suffered from depression and was able to complete an associate's degree at community college and then a bacherlor's degree in business management
- the children had remained with their father as he said that the children belong to the father not the mother
- she had known a lawyer and his family as neighbours but they had moved - she found them and asked for help getting her children back - the lawyer was corporate but paid all the court fees and represented herin court - she was able to get custody of all of her children
- she discusses at length being an apostate or one who has left the faith and is unwelcome to the point of no one answering the door when she knocks and not passing on information like the birth of her grandchildren
- her husband's wives were reassigned after his death as it was discovered that he had molested several of his children including her sons and was unworthy of his family according to Rulon Jeffs - reassigning women while the husbands were still living came about under Warren Jeff's leadership as did a deepening of the estrangement directed at those who were no longer in the faith, not of the faith or of another faction of the faith.
- Mary currently works to assist people leaving the FLDS and those who don't want to yet but are in a tough way - she would like the law upheld as she sees polygamy as the source of all harm to women and children
- she says "It's harmful. It's abusive doesn't even cover it. This lifestyle is demeaning to women and harmful to children and does nothing but inflate the egos of men. The FLDS religion isn't about nothing but power and money and sex."
- she says "And yeah I know these women choose it but they have limited choices and they are not given all their choices when they choose..."
MY COMMENT: So far most of these descriptions are familiar to me as one who has experienced patriarchal monogamy and domestic abuse. I don't hear anyone calling for an end to monogamy to ensure battered wives and abused children are helped. Also I'm feeling like this Mackert family is pretty messed up all on its own and while I gather much of the influence comes from the Mormon dogma, I suspect that there are some serious personality issues going on as well. It's a shame that these video testimonies were not open to cross examination. For one thing if she had to marry someone other than her step-brother sweetheart because her mother didn't think he was good enough why is it that two of her sisters (Rowena & Kathleen - see testimony here) daughters of the same mother married step-brothers - who had to be either this same guy or his brothers? Why were two of the daughters allowed to marry younger more appropriate men but she didn't see that as an option? I wonder about assumptions and our interpretations of what other people think and want. Communications skills are so very important to develop. I'm so glad that I am polyamorous and have learned that you have to ask for the information you need to make informed choices. You can't just assume things and then blame people for the wrong choices you make based on assumptions. Yes, we do go on what we hear as being expectations generally expressed as we grow up especially under the guise of religious devotion and I understand the impact of that in enduring abuse and neglect. I still don't see that polygamy has the market cornered on domestic abuse nor bad parenting.