Thank you all for your supportive and insightful comments. I'm sorry that I don't have time to respond to each individually. Susan, you are absolutely right… I've written and said those words many, many times. — "I think people over-romanticize the Amish. They are people like everyone else, and the same problems exist among them that plague the non-Amish." The truth had to come out at some point. No one knows how widespread the problem is, but I know of quite a few cases myself and I've been reading about it as much as I can. There is nothing that can bring out the passion in a person like having experienced it personally.
It has been hard for those of us who have known about this problem and could not tell about it, because no one wanted to hear. The Amish have been our model of a good society, which means that people want to close their eyes when they see things that don't belong there. But there have been a few voices out there, telling it anyway. I would like to commend Nadya Labi for her courage in this regard, when she wrote an article called "The Gentle People" published in Legal Affairs back in 2005. She did not shy away from the sometimes shocking details, which makes it excruciating to read. Having grown up Amish and knowing how things did get covered up, and also knowing I had no power as a young woman to do anything about the injustices, I would say Labi got it right — everything she wrote sounds authentic to me.
There is more of Mary's story in an ABC 20/20 report.
I am grateful that SNAP (The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) has responded to the issue of abuse among the Amish in a press statement and in the New York Times.
My hope is that as this issue becomes more public that the Amish will not see this as an attack on their culture, but rather as a way of accepting outside help from professionals for a problem they cannot handle internally. It is clear that the Amish method for dealing with pedophiles — expulsion, confession, and forgiveness — is inadequate in protecting children from abuse.
2 thoughts on “More about Sexual Abuse among the Amish”
It is good to see the awareness and help being offered. Hopefully it will reach throughout the community in a good way.
I am working my way through this blog, so this is an old post. But the links still work and I read them, and my heart broke. If I had read this before my trip this past week to Lancaster, I would not have looked at it the way I did. We can only perceive that which is presented to us, and that is why the Amish are often put up on a pedestal. It sure looks good and wholesome from the outside. Confession and forgiveness isn’t going to stop a compulsion and the bishops/elders of the Amish need to realize that. Sometimes your belief system needs to change and adapt to reality. If their duty is to protect the community then that includes the most vulnerable.