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Thread: Escaping the Amish

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    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Default Escaping the Amish

    For those of you who feel trapped because of a job or self-imposed obligations as an entrepreneur, this will put things in perspective.
    How do you escape your environment if you’re unable to control it? If almost no one on the outside realizes what’s happening?
    I’ll let Torah tell us in her own words…
    Torah Bontrager after escaping the Amish at age 15.

    To start, tell us a little about your background.
    I’m twenty-seven and graduated from Columbia University in 2007. I was born in Iowa. We moved to Wisconsin when I was three and to Michigan when I was ten, and I lived with my family in traditional Amish communities this whole time. I escaped from my family and the Amish when I was fifteen. I’m the oldest of eleven children. Four of my siblings were born after I escaped.
    What are the most common misconceptions or myths about the Amish?
    Here are some of the most common false beliefs about the Amish:
    -The Amish speak English (Fact: They speak Amish, which some people claim is its own language, while others say it is a dialect of German. Most people don’t know that Amish was only a spoken language until the Bible got translated and printed into the vernacular about 12 years ago.)
    -Amish teens have a choice whether they want to remain practicing the religion. (False)
    -Amish is only a religion (Fact: It’s a religion, culture, and language, etc.)
    -Amish kids go to public school, or are taught similar courses (e.g., science) as public school kids
    -The Amish are Mormons (False)
    -The Amish have arranged marriages (False)
    -Amish men have more than one wife (False)
    -The Amish put all their income in the same pot, like a communist or socialist banking system (False)
    -Cameras and music/musical instruments are allowed (False)
    -The Amish are “peaceful gentle folk” (False)
    What were the positives of growing up Amish?
    -Growing up bilingual (Though I didn’t become fluent in English until after I escaped and I was always very self-conscious about my command of the English language)
    -The emphasis on the solidarity of the extended family unit
    -The emphasis on being hospitable to strangers, helping those in need, whether Amish or “English” (anyone who’s not Amish is “English,” no matter what language or culture he/she represents)
    -Building your own houses, growing your own food, sewing your own clothes
    These experiences taught me self-reliance, self-preservation, and gave me the ability to relate to non-American familial cultures much better than I might otherwise.
    The biggest negatives?
    -The rape, incest and other sexual abuse that run rampant in the community
    -Rudimentary education
    -Physical and verbal abuse in the name of discipline
    -Women (and children) have no rights
    -Religion–and all its associated fear and brainwashing–as a means of control (and an extremely effective means at that)
    -Animal abuse
    I consider these negatives as personal positives in a somewhat perverted or distorted way. Without having experienced what I did, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, shaped by the experiences I’ve had since. I always tell people that I’m thankful for having grown up Amish but that I’d never wish it upon anyone else.
    What had you want to escape?
    For as long as I can remember, I had always envisioned a life such that wouldn’t be compatible with the Amish religion and lifestyle.
    I loved learning, and cried when I couldn’t go back to school the fall after graduating from Amish 8th grade. The Amish do not send their children to formal schooling past 8th grade. A Supreme Court case prevented forcing Amish children into high school on grounds of religious freedom. I knew that, by US law, I wasn’t considered an adult until eighteen. I didn’t want to wait until then to go to high school.
    For four years, I tried to come up with a way that I could leave before turning eighteen without my parents being able to take me back, so I could go to school.
    People generally have a peaceful image of the Amish. Can you explain the physical abuse?

    The Amish take the Bible verse “spare the rod and spoil the child” in a literal sense. Parents routinely beat their children with anything from fly swatters, to leather straps (the most typical weapon), to whips (those are the most excruciating of), to pieces of wood.
    When I was a little girl, my mom used to make me run down to the cellar to retrieve a piece of wood to get beaten with. I’d choose the thinner ones because I thought they’d hurt less.
    One day I couldn’t find a thin piece and I had to get a thicker one. Luckily, I discovered that the thick ones hurt less. So every time after that, I’d get a thick one. It made her feel like she was hurting me more, and I’d scream harder just to make sure she didn’t catch on that it actually hurt less.
    One of my acquaintances stuttered when he was little and his dad would make him put his toe under the rocking chair, and then his dad would sit in the chair and rock over the toe and tell him that’s what he gets for stuttering.
    Even little babies get abused for crying too much during church or otherwise “misbehaving.” I’ve heard women beat their babies — under a year old — so much that I cringed in pain.
    How did this all culminate for you prior to the escape?
    My dad was a hunter and taught me to shoot. One evening after eighth grade, when I was fourteen, I came back from target practice in our field. The sun was just setting and I paused for a moment on a little knoll just below the house to enjoy the view. I had just gotten done with a good practice shooting, and I remember that the thought suddenly struck me: today would be a good day to die.
    I hadn’t gotten beaten by my mom that day, and we hadn’t had any significant arguments over anything. I thought that if I died, I wanted to die without being mad at my mom. So I thought, I might as well take the opportunity to do so before I got back to the house—at which point who knows whether there would be another fight or a beating.
    I put a bullet in the chamber and raised the rifle up. The closer it got to my head, the faster my heart beat. I was taught that whoever committed suicide would go to hell. But I was so miserable in the Amish culture that I believed God would understand that my motives were good.
    In the end, I didn’t have the guts to point the barrel straight at my head. Okay, I thought, I’ll just put the gun next to my cheek to see what it feels like.
    The instant I felt that cold hard steel, I suddenly realized that I wanted to live.
    I had never had that thought before in my life. I had always thought I wanted to die. I don’t know where the idea came from that I wanted to live, but it completely changed my outlook on life.
    Just remembering the feel of that cold steel still makes me shudder.
    It was an instant flash of revelation—one that appeared and disappeared just as quickly. But in that moment, I realized that I truly wanted to be alive, that someday I’d be happy, and that I must be destined for something better in life—or surely I wouldn’t have gotten a crazy thought like wanting to live.
    I branded that thought and feeling into my head. I told myself never to forget it, that no matter how depressed or how much I might want to kill myself in the future, even if I don’t have that same feeling again about wanting to live, I still shouldn’t kill myself because there was a better life in store for me.
    At that point, I knew I had to escape.
    [Continued in Part 2]


    Escaping the Amish - Part 1 - The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    Guess what? There are more Amish in OHIO than in any other state in the United States-even more here than in Pennsylvania(where 'Pennsylvania Dutch' comes from..a corruption of 'Deutsch', which is German for 'German"..which is where they came from originally)

    The 'Amish Belt' extends from about where I live in Central Ohio, up through Northeastern Ohio.

    North of here, I have occasionally seen a buggy on the roads. Just. odd.

    *she does not mention if she was officially 'shunned'-I know for alot, if you leave 'The Amish', you are not even like a dead person, you are like a person who never even existed. Your absence cannot even be mourned, since you never existed. This has happened to gay guys I know who came out of the closet. The families are like they never existed.
    Don't slap me, cause I'm not in the mood!

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    wow, you mean really religious people aren't all gentle, tolerant and open-minded?
    i'm so glad she got out of that bullshit.
    amish, christian, muslim, jewish - all religions are anti-woman.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    Elite Member Butterfly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sojiita View Post
    Guess what? There are more Amish in OHIO than in any other state in the United States-even more here than in Pennsylvania(where 'Pennsylvania Dutch' comes from..a corruption of 'Deutsch', which is German for 'German"..which is where they came from originally)

    The 'Amish Belt' extends from about where I live in Central Ohio, up through Northeastern Ohio.

    North of here, I have occasionally seen a buggy on the roads. Just. odd.

    *she does not mention if she was officially 'shunned'-I know for alot, if you leave 'The Amish', you are not even like a dead person, you are like a person who never even existed. Your absence cannot even be mourned, since you never existed. This has happened to gay guys I know who came out of the closet. The families are like they never existed.
    Soj: Here is part 2: Escaping the Amish - Part 2 - The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss
    ><((((º>·. ¸¸. ·´¯`·.¸¸><((((º>><((((º>`·.¸¸.··´¯`·...¸><((((º>¸.·´¯`·.. ><((((º> `·.¸¸.·´¯`·...¸><((((º>

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    Elite Member HelpMeRhonda's Avatar
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    Don't even get me started on the Amish.. I live about ten miles from Sugarcreek..

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    Elite Member KandyKorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik View Post
    wow, you mean really religious people aren't all gentle, tolerant and open-minded?
    i'm so glad she got out of that bullshit.
    amish, christian, muslim, jewish - all religions are anti-woman.
    I know...why is that??
    I'm not quite drunk enough to really care, but is this her violation of her violation of her violation of her violation of probation or her violation of her violation of her violation of her probation????? ~MontanaMama on LL's latest arrest.

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    Elite Member Laxmobster's Avatar
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    I recently watched this documentary called "Devil's Playground" about this exact topic. They followed teens who went into the real for their year of sin and the choices they made after. It's really interesting and heartbreaking at times.
    Quote Originally Posted by Celestial View Post
    I also choose to believe the rumors because I am, when it is all said and done, a dirty gossip.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    There's lots of amish on the road from Toronto to London, ON. Usually one of them all done up in black standing in line for a bus, and then when it comes 50 more of then come swooping out of wherever and butt in line behind the placeholder.. the women all have these huge ass black wimple looking things, and every one of them is carrying a baby
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Elite Member KandyKorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laxmobster View Post
    I recently watched this documentary called "Devil's Playground" about this exact topic. They followed teens who went into the real for their year of sin and the choices they made after. It's really interesting and heartbreaking at times.
    The girl in this article said that movie is a very good depiction of that ritual/rite(whatever they call it).
    I'm not quite drunk enough to really care, but is this her violation of her violation of her violation of her violation of probation or her violation of her violation of her violation of her probation????? ~MontanaMama on LL's latest arrest.

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    Whoa, abuse, rape, neglect, animal cruelty, etc. happens in just about every damn community? I didn't have a clue, good thing she escaped and can now live a good life, in the normal world.

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    Silver Member missjuicy's Avatar
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    when my mom was alive, we would go to the amish country for a long weekend once a year. she absolutely loved them. to her, they were peaceful, resourceful, and quiet. it was weird how much she loved it. shed always sayshe was amish in a past life. i never enjoyed going (there wasnt much for kids to enjoy) but i so believe they are a crazy group.

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    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    The Amish are not like that at all! didn't yall see 'Witness' ?
    Don't slap me, cause I'm not in the mood!

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    Elite Member aabbcc's Avatar
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    I have an Amish cookbook that was co-written by an Amish woman and some newspaper guy. This woman wrote a very popular cooking column that was syndicated and published in quite a few newspapers. She'd write the column by hand and then mail it to the newspaper and they'd type it up and publish it. She was Old Order Amish in Indiana, and this newspaper guy became very good friends with her family and other folks in that particular Amish community. Along with recipes, this woman also wrote about her family and her life as an Amish woman. She seemed quite happy. This is evident in the book as well.

    I guess I'm adding this to provide another pov. While I have no doubt that there is a lot of dysfunctional behavior among the Amish, I don't think it would be fair to say all of them are like that.

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    ^ i agree, there is a mix of ppl everywhere you go

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