Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More Stories of Sexual Abuse

In Amish Community, the embarrassment of drinking too much is far greater than the entire community knowing you raped innocent children.  Also, it does not help that Amish women are taught not to speak up, nor are they taught anything about sex, making it even harder for them to describe what has happened to them.  22-year-old Mary Byler, another who escaped from Amish Community, recalls only having the word "bad" in her vocabulary to describe what had happened to her.  Her childhood within Amish society was filled with sexual assault and rape.  She recalls the horrific memories from her adolescence, "If somebody was raping me, I'd look up to ceiling, count the blocks or count the cracks in the wall, or [I would be] completely not there emotionally.  I would have committed suicide many times over if I wouldn't [have been] strong."  Throughout her childhood, Mary was sexually raped abused by many different members of the local Amish community.  The most shocking, however, was her brother Johnny Byler.  Johnny began sexually abusing his sister when he was 12 and she was just 6.  Her brother's abuse continued into her teenage years.  She remembered fearing being alone, walking to the outhouse or anywhere.  The abuse in Mary's family started with her stepfather, who consistently beat Mary and her siblings throughout their childhood.  He used shovels, hacksaws, even his fists, anything he could get his hands on.  Despite these tragic events, members of the Amish community were very accepting of this sexual and physical abuse, as Mary's story is not uncommon.  The amish community puts a strong emphasis on the importance of confession.  A public confession to pretty much any crime will be forgiven in Amish community.  To expand on my earlier comment, drinking too much has the same punishment as raping a child.  For Mary, to imagine that her abusers would only get a "slap on the wrist" for their life-scarring actions she will never forget, was devastating.  The final straw for Mary was when she suspected her younger brother was molesting her 4 year old sister.  Her sister came to her and said, "You know, Mary, David is bad to me," a statement very similar to when Mary described her encounters with sexual abuse.  Her sister then confided in her mother, who told her not to speak about it and that she needed to forgive her brother.  Upon hearing this, Mary left the Amish community for good and the police got involved with her history of sexual abuse.  Her brother, Johnny, openly admitted to raping her, however argued that it was not between 100-150 times as Mary has said, but moreover between 50 and 75.
Three of Mary's brother were charged and served time for their sexual abuse towards Mary and her sisters.  Not surprisingly, the Amish community viewed Mary as the villain rather than the victim.  They did not understand why Mary would put him through court when he had already gone through the public apology, and been forgiven within the community.  As a reaction to the crowd, Judge Michael Rosbrough stated, "The thought occured to me, How many of you have ever cried for Mary Byler? You may have prayed for her, I don't doubt you have, but how many of you cried for her, for the loss of her childhood?" Unfortunately, Johnny was only sentenced to 10 years probation.
Despite this, Mary Byler lives a very different life now, with aspirations of pursuing a career in nursing.  She makes it a mission for herself to help others suffering from abuse in Amish Community.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Amish Teen Charged With Reckless Horse-and-Buggy Driving and Animal Abuse

In July of summer 2010, an Amish teen was caught with underage possession of alcohol, reckless endangerment, failure to stop at a stop sign, failure to yield at an emergency vehicle, and lastly, overdriving an animal.  Seventeen-year-old, Levi Detweiler, ignored the stop sign as well as the deputies orders to stop his buggy.  Detweiler then started a horse-and-buggy chase with the deputies.  The chase only lasted about a mile when Detweiler made a sharp turn and ended up in a ditch.  He then fled the scene, but later was found.
Just four days before this incident, four eighteen-year-old Amish boys were arrested for underage drinking and littering.  They were caught tossing empty beer cans from their horse-and-buggy.  The past year in December, a young Amish man was arrested with charges of a DUI while falling asleep at the reigns of his buggy, leaving his horse to continue down the middle of the road.  
However, contrary to these cases, Levi Detweiler was charged with overdriving an animal.  Although Detweiler, faced charges of animal abuse.  Punishments include paying a modest fine, performing some community service, or at the maximum, spending a few days in jail.  Overall, these charges and punishments are nothing more than a "slap on the wrist."  At least this time, the horse's torture and overdriving was considered.
New York Governor, David Paterson, is taking steps towards ending cruelty within the commercial carriage horse industry.  He said that the horses need to be treated better, or they will simply be banned.  Unfortunately, however, it is harder to regulate animal cruelty within the Amish community due to their rejection of the outside world.