Guest post: If you know anything about the Amish


Originally a comment by Misty Griffin on What Amish life is really like, by an eyewitness.

This seems a little akward but I left the Amish 9 years ago. Reading some of these comments makes my blood absolutly boil. I beleive that people who are constantly saying that they have such nice Amish neighbors, they never see anything out of place, they are so well mannered and so on are just plain ignorant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you know anything about the Amish you will know that they are a closed society and they will not let you see anything they don’t want you to see.

The things I have seen and heard would leave you truamatized for the rest of your life. Mainly the Amish practice of silenceing thier sex abuse victims, while many may say that this happens in every cultutre it is not true, not like in the Amish. In the Amish if you are raped by your Father you are not taken out of the home, you are made to forgive him and must live in the same house with him till you marry and more than likely he will continue to rape you your whole life.

This practice and many like it make me want to vomit and that is why I ran to a police station a little over 9 years ago. I am sorry but I have no love for the Amish and while some may say that I am biased I will tell you I saw to many victims to care what anyone would retort to me becuase I would tell you in return” If you were never Amish you dont have a clue what you are talking about, end of story!”

To learn more about my story you can see it on Amazon (Tears of the Silenced).

I was not born Amish but was taken to them after being held captive by my crazy mother and stepfather. I was held prisoner on a mountain until I was eighteen and after nearly being killed by my step-father I was dropped off at an Amish community. My sister and I had been raised by Amish tradition so the transition was not very difficult. My sister is still Amish and the sting of being shunned is immense. Anyone who says we should learn from the Amish must be not thinking clearly, if we all lived like the Amish we would still be living in the 1600s, people would be dying of the plague, there would be no vaccines no freedom of religion, no freedom at all pretty much. People would be dying in their mid thirties and so on. Sometimes people just do not know what they are talkinng about I guess.

Comments

  1. Blanche Quizno says

    That account is consistent with the accounts of other women who left the Amish. Both sexual abuse and child abuse run rampant through that community, and of course they don’t allow the tourists to observe THAT.

    When a minor child is raped by family members or other members of the community, the rapist is required to “repent” in front of the community in the church, and he is then rewarded with a 3-week vacation from church. His victim is required to “forgive” him and at that point, the community communally “forgets” this ever happened. I imagine they get tired of the same victim reporting the same crime over and over – it wouldn’t surprise me at all that, if she persists in reporting the same crime, she might be punished until she learns to keep her fat mouth shut and protect the male criminal(s).

    Forgiveness is such a lovely thing for criminals – it frees them to perpetrate over and over and over and over and over…

  2. says

    Forgiveness is such a lovely thing for criminals…

    And it’s a major emphasis in Christian fundamentalist circles, too. Not to the extent that the Amish carry it, but enough to make any abuse victim walk around perpetually feeling guilty because she is having trouble maintaining her “forgiving spirit.”

    Of course, the church routinely forgives any leader who “repents” of his crime and black-holes the memory. And as one pastor’s wife told me when I mentioned my history, “We don’t talk about that.”

    “Down in the depths of the deepest sea,
    Lie all the sins once charged to me,
    Buried for time and eternity. …”

    So goes a popular hymn.

  3. says

    I live in a part of Pennsylvania (near Clearfield) where there are Amish nearby (Centre Hall and Punxy) and I’ve always thought the Amish were our own little Taliban. Women are broodmares, kids are ignorant work-engines, and elders are sanctimonious. I’m not overly impressed with their morals, either, in spite of their great marketing. When I first moved up, I had an Amish hunting party show up on my land, insisting they had permission to hunt there from the former owner (a lie). There’s a kid at one of the local horse-auctions who’s amish-raised who has badly set bones from a break, so he’s crippled; modern medicine would have fixed him right up but I suppose god, or money, didn’t justify it.

  4. says

    Hi everyone. It is Misty the one who wrote the above post. I was surprised to this as I was just randomly clicking through the internet. I was happy to see it though since it is getting the word out about Amish sexual abuse. If you would like to learn more about my story you can visit my book on Amazon ( Tears of the Silenced) or click o my name to see my book trailer.
    Blessings
    Misty

  5. Misty Griffin says

    Hi Ophelia
    Thank you so much for your interest and support. It really means a lot to me. Please forgive me if I am being intrusive but I was wondering if you know of any high traffic sites where I could do a guest blog about my book. I would so much appreciate it. I have listed a couple of questions I could answer on such a site and I believe would be interesting for the reader.

    What was it like being an Amish sexual assault victim, knowing that you would be shunned if you went to the police?

    What was it like to grow up on an isolated mountain as child slave.

    Was it difficult adjusting to modern society?

    Tell us about your frustration with law enforcement when they did not believe the Amish were capable of such crimes.

    What is like to be shunned.

    What is it like living with PTSD after the bishop of your church threatened to kill you.?

    What was it like to only have a second grade education and then get your GED in only 4 mo?

    How were your first few mo among the Englisch?

    I could go on and on about possible topics.

    If you know of anyone who would be interested in having me write a guest post let me know. I would so appreciate it and please forgive me if it is inappropriate to ask.
    Blessings
    Misty

  6. Silentbob says

    Forgive me if I’m speaking out of turn. The first places that come to my mind (apart from here) are Libby Anne’s Love, Joy, Feminism and Hemant’s Friendly Atheist (although I know Ophelia is not a big fan of the latter).

  7. says

    Hi Misty – you’re very welcome. I have a longstanding interest in the broad subject of the way religions treat women, and co-wrote a book about it (Does God Hate Women?). I’ve always wished there were more about the Amish branch of the subject, so what you say interests me a lot.

    To be frank, this blog right here is pretty high traffic. I’d be glad to publish your guest post. On the other hand two of my fellow bloggers on the network are much higher traffic, so you should ask them first – PZ Myers at Pharyngula and Ed Brayton at Dispatches – you can find both in the sidebar here on the left. As Bob mentioned, Hemant’s Friendly Atheist blog is also very high traffic.

    There’s also Religion Dispatches – I don’t know how high traffic it is but it’s definitely influential.

  8. says

    Thank you so much Ophelia. I really do appreciate your helpfulness. I am drawing up a couple of post and then will contact you friends. I would like to also do one for you answering any particular question( s) you may have. I am working on several different ones at the moment and should be done in a few days.
    Let me know if you would like me to do one for you on a particular subject and thank you ever so much for your helping hand, they are far and few between it seems.
    Blessings
    Misty

  9. Dee Miller says

    Hi Misty, I.Just finished your book I have to say that it has impacted me more than any other book I.have ever read.The horror of what happened to you , Samantha, Grandma and Fanny is haunting. I am amazed at your God given resilient spirit and hope that sustained you.I live in a community with strong amish and mennonite influence.I often lookat the girls with sad heart, knowing that most dont truly know they have a choice and their chances of breaking away especially after marraige ae slim to none.My husband who is now 63 left th Amish at age 17. Do you ever do public speaking?, my niece is interested in having you speak at an event she is planning next year..
    I am planning to share a link.to.your book on facebook.God bless you as you complete
    your Masters, preparing to help others

  10. says

    Misty – that’s great. I’m very interested in the way the emphasis on forgiveness allows rapists to keep on raping and prevents victims from being able to protect themselves or escape.

  11. Misty Griffin says

    Hello Dee
    Nice to hear from you. I would be delighted to talk at your nieces event. I plan my life’s work to be on raising awareness about child abuse and sexual assault prevention. I am a bit shy but I did get an A in speech class. It is interesting that your husband left the Amish also. I have up this point shied away from meeting any ex-Amish. I did not think it would be good for me as I hear that many return to the Amish that way.
    I look forward to hearing from you and I will admit I admit that I am a bit surprised with all the people who are starting to contact me. I was just contacted by the University of Michigan a few days ago. They are going to set up a recorded skype interview with me about what it is really like to leave the Amish vs the popular ( Breaking Amish) TV show.
    When I read your message it brought tears to my eyes, deep inside of me is still that girl who did not know if she would make it off that horrible mountain alive. And now here I am with people telling me how moved they are by my story, it seems unreal.
    Blessings
    Misty

  12. Misty Griffin says

    Hi Ophelia
    Thanks for your interest, I should have the guest post ready by Monday eve. I have some pics I will include. Where should I send it to?
    Thanks s much
    Misty

  13. Dee Miller says

    HI Misty, I was so excited to hear from you! I hope to meet you someday. God definately has a plan for your life. He placed within you that resilience and purpose and hope that wouldn’t die. You are a very unique and strong person that kept hope and kept fighting for yourself and those you loved.
    What is the best way for my niece to contact you?

  14. Dee miller says

    Misty, Since I don’t want to get multiple posts from this blog, can you let me know the best way to contact you . Prayers and blessings to you !

  15. Misty Griffin says

    I am sorry Dee I thought I was replying to you through email( oops) Anyway this is my email address I check about three times a day. I am not very good at checking my voice mail so this is a better route.

    [edited – OB]

    Look forward to hearing from you
    Misty

  16. Al Dente says

    Misty,

    A friendly word of advice: Don’t post your email address in public in such a way that scammers can automatically copy it. Most people give emails as mgriffin at go dot pasadena dot edu.

  17. Misty Griffin says

    Thank you, I did not think of that. I really appreciate it though. Do you think I can delete this one? I am so not good with technology.
    Misty

  18. John Morales says

    [OT]

    Misty, from experience, I’m pretty sure Ophelia will take care of it when she notices.

    But no, you can’t do anything about what you’ve posted here; this is Ophelia’s domain.

  19. dawn says

    Reading misty’s book has my mind blown I’m like wow it was a really eye opener to the amish I have seen many and they all look happy but now I know they are a cult and commit every crime known to society it’s sick the law can’t touch them I am definitely rethinking my view of them the way they get away with abusing people and animals it’s horrid cops and peta need to swarm on them and stop it from going further they are like terrorists in foreign land or just foreigners in other countries those people commit crimes everyday and they get away with it because of different rules or laws why godless people like them continue to live and breath is beyond me I’m disgusted by the lot of them

  20. dee says

    As I commented earlier, my husband was raised Amish and he saw much abuse. I am just as horrified as you and I dont have many good thoughts about them, however, I do know that they are not all abusers, there are some good among them even though they basicaly are a cult and have some very twisted thinking.I am a christian
    and believe in forgivenes, forgiveness does NOT mean no consequences or
    punishment, it means I release my
    right to harbor anger and resentment
    which actually frees me. God is a God
    of love and forgiveness, but also a God
    of justice.

  21. Misty Griffin says

    Hi everyone! It’s Misty. I would just like to say that I totally agree with Dee. There are good people among the Amish and my book even names some of them; however being Amish is so suffocating, even if you are a person who wants to do the right thing or stand up against abuse you are quickly quieted. The threat of being shunned is very great.
    The sad thing is that the Amish did not start out this way.In the beginning they were much like everyone else, but as time went on the church kept adding more and more rules. I am currently working on a two book historical novel series that will shed light on this.
    Blessings to all
    Misty
    P.S If you would like to see pictures of me you can now visit my books page on Amazon and click on the( Visit Amazon’s Misty Elaine Griffin Page)

  22. says

    Misty – I just came across your book on Amazon, then did a Google search and found this post. My paternal grandfather had been born into the Amish faith, but broke away while young (I have no idea why). In my family there was this sense of almost pride that we were somehow closely connected to the Amish. My maiden name was ‘Hershberger,’ and they were I guess part of the early founders in Sugarcreek, Ohio. My grandfather was a pedophile and I think you are absolutely right that sexual abuse is prevalent, denied and maybe silently condoned in that lifestyle. I spent a lot of time on my grandparents’ farm when I was young and was raped, brutalized, threatened and terrified by my ex-Amish grandfather from about ages 4-5 to 7. There was always this feeling that it was his right and I was his livestock. Fortunately, for me he died when I was 7, and my father, while far from perfect, never touched me that way. Of course, I also wonder how he (and my mother) could have had no idea and left his only daughter out there. I think that early experience profoundly affected my life. It’s taken me almost 50 years to really be able to talk about it or write about it. I’m so sorry for what you went through and I’m so happy to see you’ve survived and are using your experience to help others. I have no love for the Amish, and I’m so glad people like you are exposing them for what they are.

  23. Misty Griffin says

    Leslie I am so sorry to hear what happened to you. I have tears in my eyes as this sounds all to familiar.
    For some reason in the Amish rapist and molesters are looked upon as having a weakness or sickness for which they should receive the utmost understanding. Obviously this is a world created by men and for men. The Amish founder Jacob Ammon is said to have been a radical and a very harsh person.
    I am currently working on a two book series that will show how the Amish evolved into the cult they are today. I just do not understand how the outside world can think the Amish are so awesome without stopping to really look and see just how trapped they are.
    I wish you all the best and am so sorry for what you went through.
    Misty

  24. Heidi says

    Hi Misty, I just got done reading your book. I cried with you. Your life was horrific, what you went through is something NO ONE EVER deserves to live through. I myself am Amish, but not Schwartzentruber like the ones you lived with. How am I writing this you wonder?😉 No, we don’t have computers in our homes, so I use the one in the library or my non-Amish friend allows me to use hers when I clean her house for her. After reading your book I just had to know more about your life after you left & found this blog. Misty, I want to apologize to you on behalf of All the Amish for what you suffered. I don’t know if you realize this, but the Shwartzentruber Amish don’t associate closely with even us Old or new order Amish. I guess we are to worldly for them even though we do wear dresses, bonnets & drive horse & buggy. I had NO CLUE they live life to that EXTREME!!! In my community we of course have violence & sexual abuse that happens for we are after all the 2nd largest Amish community & it is inevitable, but when that happens WE DO GO TO POLICE AND THE PERPETRATOR IS EXCOMMUNICATED from the church. If the perpetrator is a minor they have to go through a counseling session. I’m sure some get away by silencing their victim, but we do seek justice if it sees the light of day. I’m so VERY SORRY you don’t get to see Samantha. That’s terribly unfair. I will keep you & Samantha & her children in my prayers. My sister isn’t Amish anymore, but we still see her & invite her to all our holiday events & reunions. Excommunication in our community basically means they are no longer a member of our church, but we don’t shun to the 3rd degree like some communities. I am greatly bothered by learning how life is for the women & children in the schwartzentruber Amish, & will try to get your book in to Faith View Book store (owned by amish) to get more awareness out to other Amish churches what is truly happening. I feel like only a minnow in the ocean, but for now that is all I can do.

  25. Misty Griffin says

    Hi Heidi, so nice to hear from you. Yes I realize the schwartzentruber Amish are the very strictest sect. I am so glad to hear that your community is different. From what it sounds to me you are definitely more progressive than the swhwarzentruber and non-schwartzentruber Amish that I have met. It seems the more progressive the community the less chance there is of these terrible things happening.
    Thank-you for reading my book and spreading the word about these tragedies, you can make a big difference because you are Amish. I believe only Amish can help fellow Amish, unfortunately I had already left by the time I was in a good position to speak out and there was no way anyone was going to listen to me after that.
    When I was Amish I felt my hands were tied, I just did not know what to do to change things but you have a plan and that is half the battle.
    Feel free to contact me anytime. This blog is linked to my email that I check everyday so I will always see it.
    Blessings to you and yours
    Misty Griffin

  26. says

    18 August 2015

    Ms. Griffin,

    I just finished your memoir ‘Tears of the Silenced’ and was drawn in to your story for the two day reading. I, too, am a published author (see my web page) http://www.leedorsey.com and have a tremendous appreciation for your writing ability considering your lack of formative education within your early development.

    I believe this work will attest to your ability to reason, deal with any and all situations no matter how difficult, your intelligence and above all you talent.

    Several months ago, I became interested in the Amish culture. I live in Maryland, near Annapolis, and there are pockets of Amish families that sell their produce & crafts in our markets and roadside Kiosks. I have also been to Lancaster, Pennsylvania and observed the Amish culture there as well.

    I have read two other memoirs about young women who have left the Amish for many personal reasons. Both of these women have commented on how as children they were sexually molested by their older brothers and fathers about the time they were just coming into puberty. Their reason for leaving were somewhat different than yours, however, it all boiled down in the end for wanting to improve their education and the dissonance with the many rules that they were forced to live.

    I see in your memoir that the word ‘Believe’ is your favorite word. It is my favorite word as well, but I think it may mean something different for me. To me, ‘Believe’ means I believe that I am alive and should live my life as best that I can every day.

    Anyway, back to the Amish. After reading your memoir, I have come to the conclusion that the Amish culture is nothing more than a sick cult and I hope more Amish eventually see the light and drop out. It’s an unhealthy way to live one’s life in 2015.

    There are a few questions I have about your story. First, when you had concerns that Fanny and Grandma were being cruelly mistreated, instead of contacting the police, why didn’t you call Aunty Laura and outline your concerns to her. She could have contacted the police and other government agencies and perhaps have taken them from Brian and Mamma’s custody.
    Secondly, is there a reason you didn’t contact the Psychologist in Wenatchee and report Fanny’s abuse to him? Have you made any further attempt to get Fanny away from Brian and Mamma?

    I would like to reiterate that I am still amazed that you have come such a long way in your life after the horrendous childhood you experienced. I’m not sure I would have made it.

    I wish you all the good fortune in the world.

    Lee

  27. Misty Griffin says

    Hi Lee.
    Thank you for taking the time to read my book. As for the questions about Fanny and grandma I receive so many and am touched that so many people care. I just wish the right people would have when I was trying to help them.
    In answer to your questions I guess the age old saying “Hindsight is better than foresight” applies here. Now that I am “out in the world” I can see so many things that I could of done differently and it bothers me at times but at the time I honestly tried my best with what little knowledge I had.
    As for not contacting aunty Laura I really did not think about it at the time. If the police could not do anything as it was then I really do not know what Aunty Laura could have done. I had limited time and resources and quite frankly felt like I was going up against a brick wall. In the end when I left the Amish and went to live with aunty Laura I found there was nothing she could do anyway.
    As for contacting Fannies Psychologist I would not known how to find him, but that actually might have worked.
    In the end I know I did all that I could in that moment, I am sure there were better ways I could have gone about it and perhaps succeeded but at that time I was delving into something I knew nothing about and everyone I knew was frowning on what I was doing.
    I do hope my book helps others in similar situations and perhaps people can learn from my accomplishments as well as my mistakes.
    To me the Amish are definitely a cult, a people that became entrapped in their customs over three hundred years ago and now can not find a way out.
    Blessings to you and yours

    Misty Griffin

  28. bwithrow says

    we have new Amish neighbors, I think Swartzentruber…..they moved here to an area where there are NO other Amish…one other family has relocated with them….how can we( neighbors) find out why he moved here…we think he was shunned…and could it be because of abuse on his part?…..I also have read Misty’s book and am concerned that this could be our Amish neighbor’s issue..

    How can we find out more info on this man?…He seems quite arrogant and after reading more about the Amish, I am wondering even more about his background…sadly some of our neighbors think this little family, man and wife in their 50’s…..are just the best thing ….they see them as very extreme ‘christians’…..which if they could hear him curse, they would be mighty surprised..

    is there some way to find out the back story on why this man has moved here?….he is most recently from Wingo KY…..

  29. Misty Griffin says

    Hello, this is Misty author of Tears of the Silenced.
    I have read your posting and can truly feel your concern. Unfortunately there is no real easy way to find out why this man opted to move out of a larger community. The only way you could really find out is if someone in his previous community were to tell you, but keep in mind, no matter what he has done they will most likely not tell you.
    There are various reasons why a family would move out of a community. It could be as simple as being shunned for listening to the radio or watching television at a neighbors. Even though Amish are not supposed to proud, they sometimes resist punishment like the rest of humankind. In my time I have seen many splinter churches start over the tiniest disagreements.
    But I must admit it is usually at least four to eight families who make the initial move together. It is rather odd for only two families to move into a new place.

    Maybe try asking them, if they were being punished for a minor offense they will tell you, (Amish who move because the bishop is to strict usually don’t mind complaining just a little about their former community.) If they don’t want to answer and avert their eyes then it is most likely something they are very ashamed of and don’t even want the sinful English to know about.
    I am sorry for my rambling, I don’t know if this helped or not. I am glad that people are reading my book and opening their eyes though. On the other hand I do not want people to get the idea that all Amish are rapist and molesters. That is far from true, most are just caught in ancient traditions and do not know how to break free or stand up for themselves. It is a cycle that keeps going and I really am amazed that people in our day and age cannot see it. The Amish are in some way similar to the FLDS compounds that have recently been raided. Even though they do not have a prophet or practice polygamy etc there are quite a few similarities. I guess once you truly break free from something like this your eyes really open, maybe more so than the rest of societies.
    Blessings to you and yours
    Misty

  30. Katie from Ohio says

    I cannot believe some of this stuff. Heidi you brought out some important differences between the lower Amish and the rest but I grew up Amish, was abused, was believed & supported and helped to heal by my family & community and I am telling you this book has a lot of lies in it. Don’t feel I’m sticking up for them because I left the Amish. The Amish are not a cult and this 300 years ago stuff does not make sense. Drive by regular Amish homes and look at the solar panels, weed-eaters, and all that. I did not want to stay Amish but my family did not shun me and the way way it is described in way off. Really — this is sick. There is good Amish and like any humans there are some bad ones but what this person is trying to push is way over the top.

  31. mariamcm says

    Hi Misty, I have just finished reading your remarkable book. As a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Life Coach, I read a lot of autobiographies of people who have overcome adversity. I have a keen interest in the psyche, psychology and spirituality as part of my desire and work to help people overcome low-self worth, negative and painful pasts, limiting beliefs and so on. Your story is one of the most heartbreaking yet inspiring I’ve ever read. I marvelled throughout at your sheer spirit and determination not to be beaten – juxtaposed against the countless times you were physically beaten, it was all the more powerful. How I would love to see your story turned into a Hollywood Movie… that would certainly raise the bar on awareness! That the Amish can operate with such impunity and abject hypocrisy is beyond atrocious and I shared your outrage every step of the way… but I’ve been brought up a Western culture so of course I would. What is remarkable about you is that you knew from within, from your own heart and soul, that the abuse you suffered (in both situations) was inherently wrong and against God’s truth. I am an ex-Catholic myself! I realised long ago that religion is the source of more wars than just about anything else, and I turned to spirituality and writers who challenged the ‘old concepts’ and opened my mind to a much greater truth about who God really is, and who we really are. I don’t yet have my blog set up but when I do, I plan to write a piece about you showing people how, when I say you can overcome ANYTHING, you absolutely can! I am surprised you don’t have a blog because I think you have a chance of building up a big following, both of other other women who have suffered (and still suffer) abuse in silence, and women like me (and I have a lot of strong women in my life, as well as some great men) who would support your blog and spread the word. I will of course put a link to your book and your Youtube channel (I left a msg there too but then found this so adding it here) when my blog is ready. Now, having found this too and read your recent comments, I would be delighted to have you write one (or more!) guest blogs for me when the time comes… which I am hoping will be January! If you’d like to email me personally, I’d love to hear from you and support you. My ‘older’ website is http://www.atuneu.com if you want to check that out. I would be very happy to send you some links to some of my work so that you can know a bit more about me if you’d like to. My contact email is maria@atune.com. Your work definitely deserves to reach a MUCH wider audience. I’ll leave you with this link that I posted on my Facebook Page yesterday, in case you have not seen it – and I thought of you when I did so! I hope to connect with you! Love, Maria McMahon, (BSc, Dip.H.E. NLP/HYP)

    http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/losing-my-religion-for-equality-20090714-dk0v.html?stb=fb

    PS: Hats off to Ophelia for creating this blog too! I’m happy to have found it!

  32. mariamcm says

    I have a comment for Katie, from Ohio.

    I think that Misty makes it abundantly clear in her book and in some of the comments on here, that she is not tarring all Amish with the same brush, and that there are very good people among them. She also points out in her book that the the Schwarzentrauber Amish ARE a very strict sect, and that a lot of other sects ARE a lot more progressive. My question to you is, what do you think she has to gain by telling lies?

  33. Katie from Ohio says

    The fact she says she was Swartzentruber is the first thing that is not true. The community she was living in is NOT Swartzentruber. There were a lot of things that an Amish or ex-Amish person is going to notice that are mistakes but getting the name of the group you belong to wrong is kind of a big one like a Baptist mistakenly saying they are Catholic or something. It is interesting her sister who stayed and married Amish says there are a lot of lies in this story. The Cashton & Granton type communities in her story are conservative but far from Swartzentruber.

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