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The Polygamy Blog

Former polygamous sect member to walk from Canada to Mexico to address sex abuse

First Published      Last Updated Aug 28 2015 07:00 am

The first time Cindy Blackmore left Canada, and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints enclave there, she took an airplane.

This time, she's walking from British Columbia. Blackmore says her journey won't end until she reaches the Mexican border in San Diego.

Blackmore plans to begin walking Tuesday. It's all to raise awareness about sex abuse within the FLDS.

"My goal is to helpfully give some of these girls a voice," Blackmore, 24, said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Blackmore thought she was pretty much done with the FLDS.

When she was a pre-teen, the FLDS in Bountiful, British Columbia, underwent a split. Some wanted to follow Warren Jeffs, the Utah native who is still president of the FLDS despite being convicted in Texas in 2011 of crimes related to taking underage girls as brides.




Others in Bountiful wanted to follow Blackmore's uncle, Winston Blackmore. The dispute divided families like Blackmores'. Her mother is from Salt Lake County and attended the Jeffs' Alta Academy at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon. Jeffs eventually excommunicated Winston Blackmore and the people loyal to him separated themselves from the other FLDS. Blackmore said she was taken out of the FLDS schools and home-schooled for the eighth grade. She didn't like it, she said. When she was placed in public schools, that was hard, too. The other kids didn't like the children from Bountiful.

"People were mean," Blackmore said. "There was a lot of bullying."

At age 14, Blackmore contacted the Hope Organization, a St. George based group that helped people wanting to leave polygamy.

Blackmore finished high school and went on to college. She married, had two children and later divorced. She said she became a police officer in Washington state and then in Nevada. She said her parents are out of the FLDS, but at least one older brother remains loyal to Jeffs.

Then on Aug. 6, according to Blackmore's blog, two of old friends from the FLDS visited her in Las Vegas, "and my life was forever changed."

She said her best friend told her stories of being raped by a stepbrother when she was 4 and 5 years old. That friend also described an abusive marriage and discussed "many other girls in the FLDS community who have experienced the same thing."

Then, Blackmore wrote, she remembered things happening to her as a child, including being 8 years old and an older cousin taking her into the woods and taking her clothes off. She considers herself a victim of sex abuse, too.

"I'm doing really well," Blackmore said in the interview. "I'm not trying to have a pity party and call myself a victim, but at the same time I am trying to raise awareness of what's going on out there."

Blackmore quit her policing job on Aug. 15. She said she may go back to policing one day. She's also started a Go Fund Me page to raise money for the abuse victims' education.

Blackmore plans to start her walk in Victoria, British Columbia. She will hike a combination of trails and roadways. She thinks the trip will take 4 to 5 1/2 months.

Blackmore is trying to decide how to increase awareness along the way. She said one possibility is recruiting women who have been abused in the FLDS, letting a different woman post their story on her blog each week and dedicating that week of the trip to her.

ncarlisle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @natecarlisle

 

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