SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (Good Things Utah) — Today on GTU, we featured two women who are dedicated to shedding light on the realities of the FLDS polygamous group. Charlene Jeffs, former member of the FLDS and first legal wife of Lyle Jeffs, shared her story and Tonia Tewell, Executive Director of Holding Out HELP, shared what the non-profit organization is doing to help those trying to leave polygamy.
An estimated 40,000-100,000 polygamists live in the Western United States, Canada, and Mexico, with most of them residing in or around Utah. Each group, family, and individual has a unique story, but most of them have faced forms of bondage and tragedy. When someone leaves or is kicked out, they often experience loss of family, financial ruin, feeling judged, abandonment, and loneliness.
As a former member of the FLDS, Charlene explained that it’s not easy to leave a community that you’ve known your whole life. You’re leaving behind your family, your friends, and everything you’ve ever known. And when you do leave, you often face judgment and rejection from the community you’re leaving behind. It can be a very lonely and difficult journey.
That’s where Holding Out HELP comes in. They provide a safe place for these individuals and offer a loving and caring group of people who extend hope for a new and bright future. Their mission is to help those in need of assistance, educate the public about polygamy, and bring awareness to the issues surrounding those who leave the polygamous lifestyle.
Holding Out HELP offers a wide range of services, including financial assistance, job training, counseling, and education. They have helped hundreds of people leave polygamy and start a new life. To learn more visit their website at holdingouthelp.org or follow them on Facebook at Holding Out H.E.L.P. and on Instagram at @holdingouthelp.