Dateline   |  September 13, 2013

Unbreakable, Part 6

Rebecca decides to leave the FLDS and start a new life, while her younger sister  Elissa decides to file charges against Warren Jeffs

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> she had a week to decide. this prophet's widow. marry warren jeffs or some other man of his choosing or what? doubt and guilt played ping-pong in her head.

>> maybe it's just me that's wrong. and then there's the other part of you that says, hold on a minute, there's something really wrong here.

>> for days the voices competed. tick tock . deadline coming. and then something clicked.

>> and it hit me, you can leave. and i felt like this instant lift off of my shoulders.

>> but how could she leave? not like she could just stroll out of the place in her prairie dress and start a brand new life somewhere. the flds was all she had ever known.

>> i so distinctly remember thinking, if i leave who will i become? because we were taught that you would become evil and wicket and a diseased whore in the streets.

>> rebecca had no escape plan, no survival strategy. she did have a few brothers who left the flds, including one who lived in coos bay , oregon . and he said come live with me. that's in coos bay , oregon . i remember thinking, oregon ? really? i had no idea how i was going to get there.

>> she had neither car nor money to speak of. there was, however, ben , that young man she was caught kissing.

>> ben told me that he would help me get here. that was a sobering thing for him to do, full realizing what it was like for him, but he said, no, i'll help you.

>> ben had a truck. they decided to leave in bren's truck on sunday morning, the day before warren's deadline. they would leave very early, before dawn , before church. over the next few days rebecca gathered her belongings, he precious possessions. her photographs and violin. she took them over to her sister's house nearby. she did not tell anyone what she was doing. not even elisa . then it was time. a chilly sunday morning, november, 2002 .

>> i remember what it was like to shut the door to my room and feeling that click shut and knowing that on the other side of that door was everything that i had ever known in my bentire life.

>> she scaled the ten- foot wall and walked through morning shadows to ben waiting down the road in his truck.

>> eni just kept thinking just walk, just walk, just walk. and i remember he opened the door and he said "are you ready"? and i said, yeah. so we got in and got out of town as quickly as we could. as dawn lit up the utah desert, sister becky was now just rebecca . when it sunk in i thought, what have i done? oh my gosh, what am i going to do? and looking at the clock and thinking if we turn around i could slip in while everyone is in sunday school and it would be just fine.

>> struggled with that a little bit.

>> tremendously. then you know what, no way. i'm not going back to that.

>> they drove 22 straight hours to oregon , to a world she had been taught was evil. going cold turkey from being an flds prophet wife, my hair was down to my knees. only having wore long dresses, everything felt foreign.

>> for the very first time in her life she cut her hair. she learned to apply make aup. she got a job as a waitress, which wasn't easy, especially when it came to communicating.

>> even though i spoke the english language , words and phrases meant different things. i had no idea what people were talking about, and so it was overwhelming.

>> and she pined for her family.

>> i was able to stay in touch covertly with some of my family members, and elisa was one of them.

>> life was not good for elisa , then 17, not at all.

>> there was lots of abuse. psychological, physical, mental, sexual abuse . i think watching rebecca go and finding out later on that she wasn't dead, the lightning had not come down and struck her opened my eyes.

>> with newfound courage, elisa left allen and fled the flds.

>> i got the chance to go to oregon where she was living at the time. it gave me a very clear understanding that there was the possibility i would be okay.

>> but back at the creek things were not okay for warren jeffs . suddenly he was facing lawsuits, two of them.

>> one was called the lost boys case. the boys claimed to have been thrown out of community. and the other was a young man who alleged that he had been sexually assaulted by warren as a boy.

>> in 2004 when elisa left the church and the creek, word was spreading that things were getting worse. that more and more marriages were being arranged for pube pubescent girls, almost as warren jeffs was using them as bargaining chips or reward. one of the former flds members called rebecca and said, you still have two younger sisters there. the only way to stop what is going on is to stop warren. and what can be done is to bring charges against him. it was hard for me to hear that. it's like, yeah, i want warren to stop, but do i really want to be that person to step into those shoes?

>> but as she thought about those little girls, sisters, cousins, she knew leaving the flds to save herself wasn't enough.

>> i thought, i can't sit by and let this happen. if there was a way that i could have stopped it and i didn't, i don't know if i could have lived with myself knowing that.

>> so rebecca and especially her brother, knowing elisa had a strok case, urged her to file charges against her husband to stop the abuse.

>> i had known for a while that both arizona and utah were searching for a witness, and that they were hoping that i would come forward. ultimately coming forward. whatever the cost, but i owed it to myself. and the future of other girls to speak my truth.

>> and so you came forward.

>> we came forward.

>> and so in 2006 elisa , by then cut off from family members still in the flds, made her accusations officials.