A woman who was raised in a polygamous cult has opened up about how she married her second cousin when she was 16 years old and left him nearly two years later after his dad advised him to take a second wife.
Kollene Snow, 27, from Salt Lake City,
The cousins were born into the Davis County Cooperative Society, a polygamist sect also known as the Kingston Group or The Order. They both escaped the cult right before their 18th birthdays.
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Experience: Kollene Snow, 27, from Salt Lake City, Utah, (right) and her cousin Amanda Rae Grant (left) have opened up about their experience in a cult in a rent YouTube video
Just wrong: Kollene (pictured on her wedding day) was just 16 when she married her 21-year-old second cousin
Kollene’s father, John Daniel Kingston has 14 wives, and she is the fifth of her mother Shirley Hansen’s 12 children.
She explained that they weren’t supposed to know who their dad was, only her mom’s name is listed on her birth certificate, but it was her older full sister, Escaping Polygamy star Shanell DeRieux, who figured it out.
‘We knew we weren’t supposed to tell anybody who our dad was,’ she said. ‘We also knew not to call him dad. We called him by his middle name, which is Daniel.’
Kollene admitted she doesn’t know how many half-siblings she has, saying she learned that she and her childhood best friend shared a father at a sleepover.
‘I was like, “No, that’s my dad. You can’t have the same dad as me,”‘ she said, prompting her friend and half-sister to explain polygamy to her.
Cult: The cousins were born into the Davis County Cooperative Society, a polygamist sect also known as the Kingston Group or The Order
Kollene’s father, whom she calls Daniel, already had multiple wives when he started courting her mom, but that didn’t prevent them from starting their own relationship.
‘While he was courting her, he asked her if she wanted to go to his wedding,’ she shared. ‘I don’t know if my mom went to the wedding. I think she did.’
Shirley was the ‘middle wife’ and all of the other wives picked on her, Kollene explained: ‘It’s a bloodline thing. They treat you like crap or like royalty depending on what family you were born into.’
Daniel’s brother Paul Elden Kingston is the leader of The Order, and Amanda noted that the ‘less Kingston you have in your bloodline,’ the worse you’re treated.
Kollene was allowed to go to public school when she was in kindergarten, and being in the ‘real world’ made her realize at a young age that her life in The Order was not normal and that she wanted to leave the sect.
Family photo: Kollene’s father, John Daniel Kingston has 14 wives, and she is the fifth of her mother Shirley Hansen’s 12 children
Hard to handle: ‘We knew we weren’t supposed to tell anybody who our dad was,’ Kollene said. ‘We also knew not to call him dad. We called him by his middle name, which is Daniel’
Fateful day: Kollene (pictured with he wedding invitation) met her now ex-husband on a potato farm in Idaho when she was 15. She was sent there after a failed attempt to run away
‘When I was 13, they were telling us at Sunday School that that’s the most important thing in your life,’ she recalled. ‘That’s when they say start fasting and praying for when you’re supposed to marry because that’s the most important decision of your life.’
Amanda explained that they really encourage you to get married and have babies because that is how they trap you.
Kollene ran away from home at 15 but was eventually returned to her mother. She was placed in a ‘repentance home’ in Idaho, where she worked on a potato farm.
She said The Order’s leader Paul despised her and only met with her one time when she got engaged. She claimed he once made her friend rescind her invitation to a birthday party and threatened to cancel it if she didn’t.
Her parents told her that she was a ‘bad egg,’ and unbeknownst to her at the time, one of her sisters had approached her future husband and suggested he marry her to ‘save her’ because she wanted to leave The Order.
Kollene and her now ex-husband struck up a relationship while working on the potato farm together.
Coerced: Kollene (pictured with her then-fiancé) wanted to go to public school, but members lied to her and said it would cost $2,000. She thought marriage was the only way to break free
Controlling: They got married in March 2009, but her husband wouldn’t let her got to school because he feared someone would ‘hit on’ her
Over: Kollene and her husband filed for divorce two years later after his father advised him to take a second wife because she wasn’t having children
‘They had me working under somebody who ended up being my husband. So I guess I married my boss,’ she said.
Amanda stressed that the rules for courting in The Order are strict: You have to save your first kiss for your wedding day, and you can’t hold hands until you’re engaged.
She was shocked when Kollene admitted that she would sneak off for dates her with her future husband and even French kissed him before they were engaged.
‘I had a boy kiss me on the cheek and I felt guilty for three days straight,’ Amanda said. ‘You feel like you’re going to hell.’
Kollene didn’t want to get married; she wanted to go to high school with her peers, but she was lied to and told that public school would cost her $2,000 — money her family didn’t have.
Amanda explained that The Order coerces young members into marriage by taking away their options. Kollene became determined to get married because she felt it was the only way to escape her current situation.
Choices: Kollene tried to get her then-husband to leave The Order with her, but he wouldn’t. After their split, she went to beauty school and became an esthetician
Moving on: Kollene is still close with her cousin Amanda (far right) and her full sister Shanell DeRieux (far left), who have both left The Order
Happy: Kollene (pictured with Shanell) celebrated her 10-year anniversary of leaving The Order in December
Unlike most of her peers, members of the cult tried to prevent her from getting married as a teen because they feared they would lose control of her.
‘Before we got married, I told [my fiancé] we’re not living polygamy and I am planning on leaving The Order,’ she said. ‘He knew everything before he jumped in.’
Kollene recalled getting into a fight with him about it because he worried that God would ‘tell’ him to find another wife.
They ended up moving forward with the wedding, but Paul did everything he could to make her wedding day miserable. She said he even went as far as changing the location of the ceremony the day before her wedding.
Kollene was 16 when she said ‘I do’ to her 21-year-old groom on March 21, 2009. She hadn’t even graduated high school yet. When she tried to return to school, her new husband forbade it.
‘He told me he didn’t want me to work in the public or go to school because he didn’t want anyone to hit on me,’ she said. ‘He’s the chain of the command. You ask your husband, and then he asks his dad, and then his dad asks the leader.’
Kollene tried to get her husband to leave The Order with her, but he wouldn’t.
Married: Shanell (pictured with her then-husband) was forced to marry her first cousin when she was 18 years old
Parental consent: Her father Daniel (front and center) signed as a witness to her wedding
Helping others: Shanell and her half-sisters Andrea Brewer and Jessica Christensen are the stars of the Lifetime reality series Escaping Polygamy
Their relationship reached the tipping point when her husband’s father advised him to take a second wife, saying: ‘Kollene’s not having babies, so you should marry someone else that will.’
They filed for divorce about two years after they got married, and as far as Kollene knows, her ex is still in The Order. After their split, she went to beauty school and became an esthetician.
Kollene celebrated her 10-year anniversary of leaving The Order in December. She now speaks openly about polygamy and has appeared on her sister Shanell’s Lifetime show Escaping Polygamy.
The docu-series follows Shanell and her half-sisters Andrea Brewer and Jessica Christensen as they help people leave their own polygamist groups and adjust to their new lives away from their families.
Just a year before Kollene got married, Shanell’s parents forced her to marry her first cousin — Amanda’s half brother — in Colorado, where it was legal. She was just 18 at the time, and her father was the one who signed as a witness to the weddings.
Shanell said her wedding day marked the beginning of abuse and her marriage certificate made it even more difficult for her to leave.
‘I didn’t choose to get married, I was pushed…I personally don’t think first cousins should be married,’ she told