Amish Abuse Awareness Conference Part 5
Updated: Aug 9
“Child Rearing and Prevention”
By Mary Byler
During the Q&A session of the Amish Abuse Awareness conference, the question was asked, "How do we teach our kids sex education?"
“Du muscht die kinna lanna fa sich shemma und schaffa, hat schaffa.”
“You must teach the children to be ashamed of themselves and work, work hard”. This was the reply.
The reply transported me back to my own Amish childhood, where I was told it was such a shame I was raped as a child (and I should be ashamed, as well, since it was my fault).
I am deeply puzzled by this response. How does "Working and Being ashamed oF yOuRsElF" do anything at all to PREVENT child sexual assault?
Have you considered teaching:
Your children the names of their BODY PARTS?
How about BOUNDARIES?
Or even CONSENT?
ANY of those topics would have been helpful.
We must be careful we don’t publish and teach ideas that are deeply harmful. Some teachings/teachers even facilitate and promote ideas that do not provide Amish children with safe places to exist.
"Teach your children to be ashamed of themselves"... just the phrase turns my stomach even today, 17 years after the fact. The whispers about me: “Si shemdt sich net (She is not ashamed of herself)" still ring in my ears. Shame was also one of the many excuses my female egg donor used to deny protection to me or my siblings:
“What will people think of you?”
“What will people think of me ?”
“Es gookt net gut.” (It doesn’t look good)
My crimes are as follows:
I was an Amish child who was sexually assaulted at age(s) 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and on.
I reported it: first to my parents, then to the church, and then to the law.
I speak publicly about my personal experience with Amish abuse.
I don't agree or comply with Amish theology.
These are my crimes. Hear ye.
As I sat there, in this absolute sham of a meeting on "Abuse Awareness", I relived the complete abandonment of not only my family, but also my community, and the entirety of everything I had ever known. My world was stripped away, in one fell swoop. No Amish person would help me. Today, 17 years later, we are having meetings about “Amish Abuse”, yet still peddling the same archaic and outdated ideas, which have previously resulted in ME and countless others being completely abandoned by everyone and everything they knew. Shunning kills.
And here's the best part: OUR PERPETRATORS are still "Fine, upstanding members" of our former churches and communities! Our own families often shun us, because we used our voices, because we told the truth. I haven’t sat down to dinner with my Amish biological family (who remain Amish) even one time, in 17 years. Why? Because I will still report it! and I will continue to speak about this, for there are many, many names to be named. So, I will continue to talk about this. We cannot continue to allow this abuse to happen.
This post is for all the unnamed Amish and Plain Abuse survivors. To the ones who may never be in a place to speak publicly about their abuse, as well as to the ones who stand beside me now and speak their own truth.
This is Part 5 of a series on the Amish Abuse Awareness conference in Loganton, PA, on the 22nd of May, 2021.
Look for Part 6 "Women shall Be Silent" next week.
PS: I am in the process of collaborating with professionals & survivors to create a specific handout about Body Parts, Privacy for Amish & Plain people and that will be published soon.