Woman who grew up in ‘abusive’ Mormon family reveals parents secretly swung, drank, and smoked


Ex-Mormon mother-of-three reveals how she finally fled the religion after being raised in a ‘family filled with mental illness and abuse’ by parents who hid illicit smoking, drinking, and even SWINGING from the church

  • Diana Ragsdale, now 63, from Salt Lake City, Utah, grew up with a mother, Joyce, who was ‘in and out of the psych ward’ and a ‘delusional and suicidal’ father, Ted
  • She claimed that her parents – who both suffered from mental illness – smoked, drank, and were swingers, all while hiding their illicit activities from the church
  • Despite her home being filled with ‘chaos,’ Diana said the family would ‘scrub up’ and pretend like everything was ‘fine’ when it came time for church
  • She spoke out about her ‘abusive and neglectful’ childhood, as she opened up about how she ultimately fled from her ‘dysfunctional family’ to start a new life
  • Diana said she was ‘in denial’ about her ‘disastrous’ past for years, adding that her ‘solution to the emptiness’ was to get married – tying the knot four times
  • She officially left the church in 2016, and through ‘meeting non-Mormon people and professional help’ she said she finally realized that she ‘deserved happiness’ 

A mother-of-three has opened up about her ‘neglectful’ and ‘abusive’ upbringing in a ‘Mormon family riddled with mental illness’, lifting the lid on the shocking reality behind the picture-perfect image her parents presented to the church while behind the scenes indulging in drinking, smoking, and swinging.  

Diana Ragsdale, now 63, from Salt Lake City, Utah, said she thought she would never find ‘true happiness’ after growing up with her mother, Joyce, who was ‘in and out of the psych ward’ and her ‘delusional and suicidal’ father, Ted.

She spoke out about her ‘abusive and neglectful’ childhood in a recent essay for the Today show, while opening up about how she fled from her ‘dysfunctional family’ and ultimately quit the Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to make a new life for herself.

Diana said she and her five siblings spent their childhoods feeling ‘constantly hungry’ – and would even tread through dumpsters to look for extra food.

Her parents, who both suffered from mental illness, smoked, drank, and were swingers – which means they engaged in group sex or swapped sexual partners within a group – all while hiding their illicit activities from the church.

Her mom eventually ‘abandoned’ the family, and her dad ended up marrying her mother’s sister. 

A woman who grew up in a 'Mormon family riddled with abuse' revealed how her parents hid swinging, drinking, and smoking from the church. She is pictured with her siblings as a kid

A woman who grew up in a ‘Mormon family riddled with abuse’ revealed how her parents hid swinging, drinking, and smoking from the church. She is pictured with her siblings as a kid

Diana Ragsdale, now 63, said she thought she would never find 'true happiness' after growing up with a mother who was 'in and out of the psych ward' and a 'delusional and suicidal' father

Diana Ragsdale, now 63, said she thought she would never find ‘true happiness’ after growing up with a mother who was ‘in and out of the psych ward’ and a ‘delusional and suicidal’ father

Diana (pictured as a baby) spoke out about her 'abusive and neglectful' childhood, while opening up about how she fled from her 'dysfunctional family' to make a new life for herself

Diana (pictured as a baby) spoke out about her ‘abusive and neglectful’ childhood, while opening up about how she fled from her ‘dysfunctional family’ to make a new life for herself

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has strict rules for its members, including: no consuming alcohol, tobacco, cigarettes, drugs, coffee, or tea, no getting abortions, no having sex before marriage, no gambling, no wearing ‘sexually suggestive clothing,’ and no looking at any form of media with obscenity or Pornographic material, according to Purpose In Christ.

The church also discourages piercings, tattoos, interracial marriages, same-sex relationships, and using foul language. 

Diana said she and her five siblings spent their childhoods feeling 'constantly hungry' - and would even tread through dumpsters to look for extra food. The Utah house they grew up in is pictured

Diana said she and her five siblings spent their childhoods feeling ‘constantly hungry’ – and would even tread through dumpsters to look for extra food. The Utah house they grew up in is pictured

Despite her home being filled with ‘chaos and abuse,’ Diana said the family would ‘scrub up’ and pretend like everything was ‘fine’ when it came time for them to attend any religious activities.

‘I was a scrappy tough kid, raised in a Mormon family riddled with mental illness, chaos and abuse,’ she wrote.

‘We learned to fend for ourselves, dumpster diving on occasion, and yet we still scrubbed up and showed up for church as if everything was white-picket-fence-peachy fine.’

At age 20, Diana said she married a man whom she ‘knew she didn’t love’ in an attempt to ‘escape,’ explaining, ‘I hoped I would grow to [love him] over time.’

The couple quickly welcomed three children together; however, six years after they tied the knot they went their separate ways, leaving Diana as a single mother who struggled to make ends meet and take care of her young kids.

‘I was struggling as a single mother with a deadbeat ex-husband who repeatedly forgot to send any child support,’ she said.

Her parents (pictured) smoked, drank, and were swingers - which means they engaged in group sex or swapped sexual partners within a group - all while hiding their illicit activities from the church.

Her parents (seen in a painting made by Diana), who both suffered from mental illness, smoked, drank, and were swingers – all while hiding their illicit activities from the church

Despite her home being filled with 'chaos and abuse,' Diana (pictured with her sisters in 1962) said the family would 'scrub up' and pretend like everything was 'fine' while attending church

Despite her home being filled with ‘chaos and abuse,’ Diana (pictured with her sisters in 1962) said the family would ‘scrub up’ and pretend like everything was ‘fine’ while attending church

At age 20, Diana said she married a man whom she 'knew she didn't love' in an attempt to 'escape,' explaining, 'I hoped I would grow to [love him] over time.' She is pictured with her mom and sister in 1970

At age 20, Diana said she married a man whom she ‘knew she didn’t love’ in an attempt to ‘escape.’ She is pictured with her mom and sister in 1970

‘Determined to defy that depressing destiny, I went back to college to obtain my long overdue education and find a way to support my children.’

Two years later, she got married again, and this time, she said the relationship was ‘loving and stable.’ However, it too ended in divorce after she had an affair. 

Diana, who worked as a physical therapist, said she was ‘in denial’ about her ‘disastrous childhood,’ admitting that her own issues made her turn a ‘blind eye’ to her kids’ problems, which ranged from addiction to depression.

Diana said she was 'in denial' about her 'disastrous childhood,' admitting that her own issues made her turn a 'blind eye' to her kids' problems. She is pictured as a child with her siblings

Diana said she was ‘in denial’ about her ‘disastrous childhood,’ admitting that her own issues made her turn a ‘blind eye’ to her kids’ problems. She is pictured as a child with her siblings

The mom-of-three said her ‘ongoing solution to the emptiness within her was to remarry again.’ She described her third husband as a ‘controlling churchgoing imposter’ and a ‘paranoid sociopath,’ who ultimately cheated on her.

‘That marriage ended in a complete disaster and about did me in emotionally,’ she admitted.

Diana said she was also faced with a ‘spiritual struggle’ over the years, as she tried to ‘escape the pull of her Mormon faith’ which ‘culminated in a heap of shame and guilt.’

She added: ‘There is tremendous pressure placed on Mormon women around the world. The constant striving for perfection, maintaining our homes and bodies as if they were temples, attending several church meetings and functions weekly, and abstaining from tea, coffee, tobacco and alcohol.’

Diana officially left the church in 2016, and through ‘meeting other non-Mormon people, traveling, and professional help’ she said she finally realized that she ‘was not a bad person’ and that she ‘deserved happiness.’

The mom-of-three said her 'ongoing solution to the emptiness within her was to remarry again,' and wed four different times over the years. She is pictured at one of the weddings

The mom-of-three said her ‘ongoing solution to the emptiness within her was to remarry again,’ and wed four different times over the years. She is pictured at one of the weddings

Diana (pictured as a kid with her family in 1958) said she was also faced with a 'spiritual struggle' over the years, as she tried to 'escape the pull of her Mormon faith'

Diana (pictured as a kid with her family in 1958) said she was also faced with a ‘spiritual struggle’ over the years, as she tried to ‘escape the pull of her Mormon faith’

‘In the end, I decided the church was hindering my own personal journey of growth, discovery and contemplation,’ she continued.

‘I objected to the rhetoric, the unattainable goals for perfection, and what I perceived as being controlled out of fear.

She said: 'There is tremendous pressure placed on Mormon women around the world. The constant striving for perfection, maintaining our homes and bodies as if they were temples, and abstaining from tea, coffee, tobacco and alcohol.' She is pictured with her family as a kid

She said: ‘There is tremendous pressure placed on Mormon women around the world. The constant striving for perfection, maintaining our homes and bodies as if they were temples, and abstaining from tea, coffee, tobacco and alcohol.’ She is pictured with her family as a kid

‘For the first time, I realized that people outside of the church were actually happy and successful. 

‘I had been brainwashed to think that the only way to find true happiness and success in this life was through living the gospel.

‘Without fear of church leaders and what my parents thought of me, I discovered happiness by living in the present – the here and now – rather than focusing time and energy worrying about what heavenly kingdom I would end up in the afterlife.’

Diana said she went through ‘intensive therapy’ and was able to ‘close the gap with her children.’ She also confronted her mother and set ‘boundaries’ with her ‘mentally ill’ father. 

She got married one last time – whom she is still with – and this time, she described it as a ‘healthy relationship.’

Diana (seen in 2021) officially left the church in 2016, and through 'meeting other non-Mormon people and professional help' she said she finally realized that she 'deserved happiness'

Diana (seen in 2021) officially left the church in 2016, and through ‘meeting other non-Mormon people and professional help’ she said she finally realized that she ‘deserved happiness’

'At 63, I am happier and more content than I have ever been, and finally feel free,' Diana, who is pictured with some of her eight grandkids, gushed

‘At 63, I am happier and more content than I have ever been, and finally feel free,’ Diana, who is pictured with some of her eight grandkids, gushed

Now, Diana – who has eight grandkids – has written a book about her experience, entitled Loose Cannons, which came out last month. She is also a public speaker and often shares her story with the world in the hopes of helping other victims.

‘At 63, I am happier and more content than I have ever been, and finally feel free,’ she gushed.

Diana has written a book about her experience, entitled Loose Cannons, which came out last month. She is also a public speaker and often shares her story with the world in the hopes of helping other victims

Diana has written a book about her experience, entitled Loose Cannons, which came out last month. She is also a public speaker and often shares her story with the world in the hopes of helping other victims

‘I still consider myself a spiritual person, but I am also that scrappy tough kid, too rebellious to be told how to live my life by a male-dominated church with scripture that seems like mythology. 

‘My life is filled with so much richness at this point that sometimes I have to remind myself to remember my past, and all of the hard work it took to get here. I hope to never take my happiness for granted.’

It turns out, Diana’s parents weren’t the only Mormon’s to get involved with swinging, as a Mormon influencer recently sparked controversy when she claimed that she and her soon-to-be-ex-husband were ‘soft swinging’ with friends in their Utah community.

Taylor Frankie Paul, 28, announced on the social media platform that she and her husband, Tate Paul – who share two young children together – were getting a divorce late last month.

In a bombshell livestream, she claimed that their friend group had an agreement in which they would switch partners but not ‘go all the way’ with them, which is known as a ‘soft swap.’ But she admitted that she had broken that agreement.

Taylor Frankie Paul announced on TikTok last month that she and her husband, Tate Paul, were getting a divorce and claimed they were 'soft swinging' with friends in their Utah community

Taylor Frankie Paul announced on TikTok last month that she and her husband, Tate Paul, were getting a divorce and claimed they were ‘soft swinging’ with friends in their Utah community

In a livestream, the Mormon influencer claimed that their friend group had an agreement in which they would switch partners but not 'go all the way' with them

In a livestream, the Mormon influencer claimed that their friend group had an agreement in which they would switch partners but not ‘go all the way’ with them

'We had an agreement, like all of us, and I did step out of that agreement,' she stated

The influencer added, 'That's where I messed up, and I, obviously, am losing everything that I have, so that is true'

‘We had an agreement, like all of us, and I did step out of that agreement,’ she stated. ‘That’s where I messed up, and I, obviously, am losing everything that I have, so that is true’ 

‘We had an agreement, like all of us, and I did step out of that agreement,’ she stated. ‘That’s where I messed up, and I, obviously, am losing everything that I have, so that is true.’ 

Taylor alleged that she and the other wives in the group would make out with each other and each other’s husbands when they were drinking. 

‘No one was innocent. Everyone has hooked up with everyone in this situation,’ she continued.

‘So, yes, I’m getting shunned for doing that, but it wasn’t like I was going around hooking up with my friend’s husband.’

‘We were at a party, I got belligerent, and we went and messed [around] by ourselves rather than with the whole group,’ she added, insisting it was a ‘one-time thing.’ 

‘I was friends with these people, and we spent a lot of time together. We were intimate on several occasions. 

‘It sucks that I have to admit this because… no one really wants to admit they’re involved in something like that.’ 

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