A US Amish community dedicated to serving community was supposed to keep Misty safe. Instead it shielded her abuser
Sep 18, 2020 3 mins, 26 secs

But it's not just about telling her story. What Misty wants most of all is for you to never hear a story like hers again..

For starters, the story begins in a slice of misunderstood space known as America's Amish country..

The Amish, like most religions, associate piety with surrendering to a set of rules..

After being raised on an isolated farm by physically abusive parents, Misty was sent to join a small, 100-person Amish community at age 18..

The bishop would stare at her as she worked, she said. He brushed her breasts as she handed him the baby. He openly speculated that Misty would make a good replacement for his wife if she succumbed to her seizures..

The following morning — the start to her last day in the Amish community — is when things start to get fuzziest.

What happened to Misty next is still a mess of fragments — ugly, hurtful moments that strike her as randomly as lightning and linger like thunder in her nightmares.

The Amish speak out about the Bann like it's a prison, but it's not a physical space. It's a form of social shaming.

The bishop probably realised, too, that the outside world might be more sympathetic towards Misty.

Because as she stepped through the door to leave, he grabbed her, dragged her to the side of the house and only increased his painful methods of restraints the more she tried to escape, Misty says.

In the end, the police told Misty there was little they could do without concrete evidence of what had happened.

They sent officers to speak to the bishop but, from her neighbours' window, Misty saw them leave within minutes, waving to the bishop as they went. They would never follow up.

Hiding at her neighbours house, Misty realised she only had one option left. That was leaving the Amish, the closest thing to safety she'd ever known

"I thought I was one of the first people to ever leave the Amish. In my church, you didn't hear about people leaving.

There are networks of ex-Amish who help those leaving the biggest church groups, teaching them to navigate everything from electricity to a drivers' license. For Misty, that sense of community came dozens of steps later, after she'd figured out how to use the internet.

She read about a young woman named Mary Byler, who left the Amish after being sexually abused by her brothers. Mary's story attracted a bit of media coverage, in part because it went against America's stereotype of what Amish life was all about.

The similarities of their stories gave Misty a sense of solidarity, but also left her unable to shake this idea that there might be an Amish girl somewhere in need of the help she and Mary never received.

Nine years after leaving the Amish, Misty self-published an account of her experience.

The comments, emails and letters started pouring in. Friends of the Amish, ex-Amish, current Amish — Misty has lost track of how many people have told her they know about sexual abuse occurring in the Amish community.

The family had fled the Amish community shortly after Misty left, possibly because they feared prosecution. They spent years bouncing from state to state, finally settling in with a Seventh-Day Adventist community, which shares Christianity but little else in common with the Amish.

The stories she hears have only motivated Misty to push harder to get her own story out there.

The police that Misty contacted before leaving the Amish told me they don't keep records for more than seven years.

And the people who could verify her story are either 1) still in the Amish, and therefore only contactable in-person or by letter or 2) they're people who Misty is uncomfortable putting me in contact with for reasons that feel legitimate

"One journalist told me they'd need insurmountable evidence, like a full-blown FBI investigation, in order to accuse the Amish of something," Misty said


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