As a child is raised they are formed by their surroundings. Many external factors influence a child’s development physically, socially and cognitively. These factors can leave a lasting impact in both positive and negative ways. As the foundation is being built a child’s ideals of what is “normal” is set. If the child is nurtured and trained with healthy boundaries in a loving environment based on truth then their foundation will most likely be solid with minimal discrepancies. However, if they are raised in an abusive environment based on lies, conditional love, and control, this could lead to cracks within the child’s foundation ultimately causing him or her to live a life of instability and stunted growth. This viscous cycle will continue from generation to generation until someone finds the strength to break it. It can be challenging to break through the bondage that an unhealthy, or even abusive, environment can cause. In fact, some may say that it would be near impossible to reset an unhealthy foundation once it is set. However, with God nothing is beyond reach. For one survivor the truth of God’s Word [Bible] made all of the difference within her life.
Doris Hanson, a Mormon Fundamentalist Refugee grew up in a lifestyle foreign to most people. It can be said that her foundation as a child was based on deception and control. She lived a life filled with fear based on the lies of a false doctrine written by a known polygamist, Joseph Smith. Doris grew up with the pressure of keeping her home-life a secret, having to know the difference between “acceptable” and “unacceptable” lies, along with the fear of a vengeful god who was out to get her. To any child living in a situation like this it can cause a lot of confusion and instability.
Part of the process of finding healing is identifying truth, asking questions, educating oneself, being flexible to change, and opening one’s heart and mind to the possibility that there needs to be a foundation reset. But it begs the question, If you are surrounded by people and families that live as you do, how would you realize the family you lived in was not like the majority of the world and that you actually didn’t want to be part of it anymore? Risen asked Doris Hanson just that, and here is what she had to say:
“I was in my early teens when I realized that. In the polygamy group we’re raised to know that we are different from the world, we are trained to believe that we are better, we are God’s chosen – the very cream of the crop! But then that’s a dichotomy too, because for being the cream of the crop I was sure taught that I was a wicked person every time I sinned. We were taught God would only save those who were in the Kingston polygamy group, the rest of the world was going to hell. I asked my mother one time, “If God loves the world, then why would He send everyone to hell if they are not in the Kingston group?” She said, “Well everyone in the world will have the opportunity to join the group and they will refuse to.” It still doesn’t make sense to me.
The Christian message was so amazing to me. When I was learning [from a Christian church] that Jesus Christ is God, and He is the only God in existence, and that Lucifer was not Jesus’ brother, but rather a rebellious angel who wanted to become like God, I thought, “You mean this God that I hated all of these years is the one who came down and died for me? And this is the way I’ve treated him? He didn’t hate me, he wasn’t after me, and he pursued me because he loved me? Thank you that Jesus is God and he loves me enough to come down and die for my sins. Jesus, you are not the god I was taught you were.” Jesus being God was such a huge thing for me. “
Due to the confusion and pain she endured with the Mormon Fundamentalist group, Doris reached a level of desperation causing her to flee. She not only wanted to escape the entrapment of the group and the possibility of being forced in a polygamous marriage, but also to break free from this false god she was raised to know as controlling and spiteful. Many admire her courage for running and hiding at the young age of eighteen. But as Doris told Risen,
“People say that they think I must have been so courageous to leave. I tell them that I left out of desperation, not courage.“
It wasn’t until 27 years after she had escaped that she realized that this god she was raised being fearful of was false. Unbeknownst to her, the true God was working behind the scenes in her life in many ways to bring good out of all the darkness she experienced. With shame, guilt and fear being ingrained within the foundation of her identity it seemed near impossible for her to be freed from such damage. Yet in our interview she explains how she was able to be completely freed from the physical, emotional, and spiritual bondage she was under due to the abuse and deception inflicted through the Mormon Fundamentalist Kingston clan she was born into.
The beginning of her healing process began when she found herself reading a book given to her called, “Mama, Mormonism and Me” written by Thelma Geer. It was in this book that she read, “GOD LOVES YOU!” These three little words had the power to pierce her heart. This was a life altering moment for her. She had never heard of God’s love before. Her eyes were opened. She began to see all the ways the Lord had been working in her life, reaching out to her because He loved her dearly. She had spent most of her adult life under the false belief that God was angry with her for leaving the occult. With the realization that this was not true she began searching for answers to correct the distorted views she was given within her formative years.
She was disgusted with the brainwashing she endured, knowing that so many continue to be entrapped in the bondage of the lies. Now on a mission, she passionately dove into scripture [Bible] where the Lord purified her heart, giving her a miraculous healing. Through this amazing journey she realized that many others could identify with part, or all, of the abuse she had been through within her life. Even though she feared sharing where she came from, Doris knew there was a bigger purpose God had for her to fulfill. God brought her through the unimaginable so that she could reach out with passion to spare others from the suffering she endured on her search for truth and life.
It is now her honor to share her story bringing light to the layers of the deception through her ministry. She is now established as a “missionary to Fundamentalists” through her call-in television talk show titled, Polygamy: What Love is This? with Doris Hanson, Bible study booklet, “Is Polygamy Biblical?” and as the director of A Shield and Refuge Ministry, a non-profit, Christ-centered ministry of hope and restoration for victims of, and those seeking freedom from, Mormon fundamentalism and polygamy. In addition, Hanson is also in the process of establishing The Hagar Home, a safe house for people who are running from polygamy and in need of a safe place to go.
Risen was shocked to read on her website [www.whatloveisthis.tv] that there are as many as 30,000, and some estimates claim up to 100,000, Mormon Fundamentalists [polygamists] living in the intermountain west, most of whom are concentrated in the “Mormon Belt” throughout Utah and into neighboring states. We asked Doris, “How is polygamy so prevalent even when it is illegal?” Doris explains,
“Many people ask the very same question. They want to know why the authorities don’t come in and break up these groups, or at least rescue the children that are raised in this abusive lifestyle. Some of the known polygamy groups are: AUB (The Apostolic United Brethren), Kingston, FLDS, Wayman, Centennial Park, Harmston, Peterson, and Blackmore. Polygamy ranges from Mexico to Canada. There’s a FLDS group in Canada and there’s a LeBaron group down in Mexico and all through the neighboring states.
The Mormon church has a huge stronghold, controlling almost the entire state of Utah, and although they say polygamy is illegal and many of them even think the Mormon Fundamentalist are weird, they still have a soft spot in their hearts for polygamy. In my opinion, I believe that is the only reason the law will not take action against it.
A lot of the people from the group will not come forward and talk about the abuse because it is illegal. Our television show was live, and the last hour I was taking in phone calls. One phone call came in where a male said that he knew of a polygamy family and the father was sexually abusing the daughter and wanted to know what they should do. I asked if he could give me names or call me privately. He couldn’t give me any information to help.”
Check out the full interview with Doris Hanson at www.RisenMagazine.com
Plus, here are links to Doris Hanson’s Ministries for further study: