About the Author

Susanna Barlow is the 23rd of 46 children. She was raised in Salt Lake City in a polygamous household with one father and six mothers. Her family lived in the middle of a busy city neighborhood, hiding their lifestyle in plain sight, along with the many other polygamous families in the area. Susanna attended church meetings with her family where she was taught the tenets of fundamentalist Mormonism. The need for secrecy and isolation was constantly encouraged. But hidden beneath the functional surface of her family was dark and dangerous core. Her father’s younger third wife, ruled the family with unquestioned authority and Susanna suffered both physical and psychological abuse in the name of God and religion. Along with her many siblings she was brutally beaten and starved, locked into a schoolroom for days at a time. She was homeschooled up until the fifth grade when she was forced to join the Work Crew, a highly organized cadre of children who cooked, washed dishes, cleaned, cared for babies and did the laundry for their massive household in order to keep the home running. By the time she was ten Susanna was already working 14 hour days and struggling every day to survive. As part of that survival she developed a shrewd cynicism and deep-seated distrust of others. Fearing contact with those outside the family, she didn’t dare seek help from police or child abuse agencies, instead she turned inward, constantly consumed with suicidal thoughts and small daily acts of self-harm.

When she was twenty years old she left her household by marrying a young man from the polygamous community, to whom she had barely even spoken before their wedding day. She soon started a family of her own and within a couple of years after their marriage Susanna and her husband Aaron decided to leave the polygamist community and create a new life in a strange new mainstream world. But the violence and internalized harm from her past continually haunted her. Susanna finally got the courage to cut her hair, voice her own opinions and even buy her first pair of pants. In an attempt to not subject her own children to the violence and control she experienced in her own life, Susanna began to break the patterns of abuse and find a new way to live. She eventually refused to hit any of her six her children or even to do any domestic chore for her family unless she could do it motivated by love instead of obligation.

In 2001 Susanna began writing in journals and notebooks but found that her writing unearthed another level of trauma, requiring a deeper level of healing to begin. She searched for answers in books, studying art, learning meditation and other forms of self-improvement, on a lifelong journey of connection, discovery and wholeness. Strengthened by her healing, she eventually hosted a massive family meeting for all of her parents and all of her siblings, in which she invited her brothers and sisters to finally speak the truth about the severe abuse they all suffered; to confront the woman that abused them and require her to account for her actions.

Today she remains married to her husband of 23 years and together they have raised their six children in a loving home. She has chosen to stay connected to her polygamous roots and is still close to many of her polygamous (and non-polygamous) brothers and sisters. She also remains in contact with her parents and lives nearby.

Susanna has given dozens of radio interviews and was featured on Good Things Utah, a morning TV show, has spoken at the Successful Mothering Convention in Sandy Utah, at the Standard Examiner’s Women’s Fair, New Haven Residential Treatment Center, at the Ketchum Community Library in Sun Valley Idaho, the Utah Cultural Center and was the keynote speaker at the Abuse Recovery Center in Portland Oregon. She continues to write full time from home, both nonfiction and fiction. Her stories, articles and essays about polygamy, abuse, parenting, archetypes and the many modalities of healing that helped her along her way along with information about her memoir, can be found online www.susannabarlow.com

Not In My House is her first full-length memoir about her life in a polygamous family and how she overcame the struggle of surviving abuse. It has won the 2017 Utah Original Writing Competition for Creative Nonfiction.

Contact Information

Susanna Barlow

susannbarlow8@gmail.com

 

 

 

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