‘Sins of the Amish’ Reveals Bombshell Allegations of Cyclical Rape, Incest, and Physical Abuse

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Peacock

Peacock

There is little to no coverage about the horrors that happen with Amish communities. Head to the “Amish” Wikipedia page and you’ll find detailed descriptions about the founding of the religion, the various factions that fall under the title, about their clothing and their food. But you won’t find a single “Controversies” or “Sexual Abuse Scandal” tab on the page—nor any mention of pedophilia, rape, or incestuous relations.

Apart from a handful of articles from years ago, the Amish and Mennonite people have managed to sweep most of the darkest stories surrounding their communities under the rug.

When we think about Amish TV shows, we think about Breaking Amish, a reality show about Amish folks leaving their sheltered community and gleefully heading to New York to experience the debauchery of the Big City. That is, until now, with the release of Peacock’s Sins of the Amish, which aims to shatter any pristine image of Amish and Mennonite religions there may still be.

The series follows four women from a variety of different Amish backgrounds. Some are highly conservative and don’t even use electricity, others featured their Amish family photo shoots. Sins of the Amish works to uncover patterns of sexual and physical abuse, alongside a handful of incestuous relations. Meg, Mary, Misty, and Audrey (their last names aren’t revealed in order to protect their privacy) come together to share their experiences within the Amish community, how they worked to get out of it, and the trauma they still encounter today.

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By far the most damning piece of the puzzle is the way some Amish leaders brainwash their youngsters to believe that nightmares like rape and incest are not just normal, but always the girl’s fault. While unpacking some of her old Amish materials, Mary uncovers one of her old sex education pamphlets titled “To the Girl of Eleven,” one of the only informative resources she had.

“This sex urge, once it is awakened and active in a young boy at the age of puberty and beyond, can become a powerful driving force within. Every decent girl will do her best to help him, and not make it harder for him. Even in your own home, if you have brothers in your teens, you should be mindful of this,” she reads. “Your brother innocently coming upon you and seeing your partly uncovered body may suddenly have strong sexual desires aroused within him. His intentions were not bad, but he suddenly finds himself a victim of your carelessness in the lust of his own body.”

The pamphlet also encourages young girls not to appear in scanty nightclothes or climb up ladders around their male family members, to keep their dress closed, and to close their door at night so that their brothers do not feel inclined to molest their sisters if they spot them half-naked in bed.

Still, a closed door didn’t prevent Mary’s brother from raping her in the middle of the night. She says she used to sprint to her room before he could catch her, but locking the door wasn’t enough.

“He would take off the hinges,” Mary tearfully recalls. “I remember him grabbing me and then I remember instantly splitting into two people. Like I wasn’t even there. When I came back, the door was closing, and he was gone.”

Mary eventually left the community and took her two abusive brothers to court. It would be hard to argue there was justice. Her elder brother Johnny, who confessed to raping Mary upwards of 200 times, was given one year in jail with the ability to leave and work, and 10 years of probation. Along with that, busloads of Amish people arrived at the hearing to defend Mary’s rapist brothers.

“I have a feeling she is doing this out of spite more than anything,” Mary’s own mother wrote to the judge. “Ever since I learned to know Mary personally, she had a habit of making things sound worse than they really are.”

Why the flurry of hate towards Mary? There is the belief that speaking out against rape is actually a worse sin than the rape itself. To publicly accuse an Amish brother of such an act is to ruin his life, so you must forgive him instead of going to the police or spreading gossip.

On top of this abuse, “the Lord commands” that physical discipline must begin at 3 months old, meaning Amish fathers are expected to beat their children from infancy. One woman recounts how her father used to ask her baby sister to clap and smile, and when she inevitably didn’t—babies can’t understand words—the father would beat the baby.

There are many horror stories in Sins of the Amish, but one of the worst comes near the end of the two-part series. Audrey, a mother of five who recently exited the community, remembered passing on the sex education that she had received to her two eldest daughters when they dropped a bombshell revelation.

“She opened up and asked me if it’s normal for dads to touch their daughter’s butts. I remember sitting there, frozen, all of a sudden understanding that this picture was a whole lot bigger than I even imagined,” Audrey recalled. “I was brainwashed into thinking it wasn’t abuse, it was discipline, and that’s what God wanted to do, because that was his place in the home.”

But Audrey worried about losing custody if she brought the case to court. After all, one woman who left the community says, criminals have received more time in prison for burglary and drug possession than anyone from the Amish community has for raping a child for 15 years. Still, with her two daughters fighting beside her, Audrey took her ex-husband to court, resulting in some justice served.

But as the horrors within the Amish community continue to surface—the series recounts an astonishing number of similar stories—Sins of the Amish hopes to shed light on the cycles of abuse within the community.

Sins of the Amish is now streaming on Peacock.

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