Tears of the Silenced

Book Reviews

Madhuri reviews Misty Griffin’s book subtitled, An Amish True Crime Memoir of Childhood Sexual Abuse, Brutal Betrayal, and Ultimate Survival.

Tears of the SilencedTears of the Silenced: An Amish True Crime Memoir of Childhood Sexual Abuse, Brutal Betrayal, and Ultimate Survival
by Misty Griffin
Mango Publishing Group, Florida
342 pages

From an abusive, indeed psychotic, redneck family in eastern Washington to a strict Amish community in Minnesota – this child suffers what no child should ever have to endure – hard labor, beatings, brainwashing, sexual depravation. The Amish community she was sent to as a teen seemed at first to be a refuge, but soon it became clear that men could do what they liked with women and children, and the religion then obliged everybody to ‘forgive’ them – and certainly never to call the cops.

The author did courageously several times try to get the police involved – but her pleas were shrugged off. Nobody could imagine the quaint Amish behaving badly.

I’d never before read an insider’s view of this branch of Christianity, and was struck by similarities with Nazi Germany – for example the behavioral rules everybody has to follow are called ‘Ordnung,’ and extend to the exact width of hems on the regulation garments.

The astonishing thing is that this girl survives… and finally, much later and far away, even thrives.

I pondered throughout a few different things: Human Design would call the Amish setup ‘Tribal’ – it’s supportive of its members – they help each other with harvests, nursing the sick, preparing feasts, and so on – but it has rules, and if you break them you are punished heavily. Traditions and rituals need not make any logical sense; they only need to be observed and obeyed – continuing to cement the structure of the Tribe.

I personally don’t like apocalyptic scenarios – I think that people have been saying that it’s all going to end, ever since it all began – it’s just one of the things (especially older men, for some reason) tend to do. But there are two versions of what I’d call a ‘Change scenario’ that do make some sense to me: one is what I read about in Spiritwalker, by Dr Hank Wesselman, where Global warming creates a higher sea level, swamping ports, so that oil cannot be shipped and there is resulting civil chaos; followed at some point by a vast earthquake in California, raising an enormous wall there and creating an inland sea. Animals escaped from zoos populate the interior of north America with a wealth of various fauna, and a balmy climate makes for jungles.

The other is the Human Design vision: in 2027, we are supposed to be entering a new Incarnation Cross. The last one, the Cross of Planning, from the mid-1600’s onwards, was Tribal – all about talented planning of institutions to involve and benefit all of us. The next will be based in the Individual circuitry, and would mean that structures such as the Amish have would peter out and crumble away, leaving more isolated homesteads or loose aggregates of free-thinking people – who would specially like playing musical instruments and dancing! Architecture would become whimsical and possibly even weird; freaks would wander about reciting their poetry and cooking new dishes that just occurred to them somehow. It’s all about creativity and the New – the strange, the different.

We would no doubt miss institutions we depend on – but freedom is a live-and-let-live thing, where people are focused on their own survival and creativity. and, just as Individual people have been shunned and left out of the mainstream, now Tribal sorts would feel that way, constantly lobbying to get people to come back together and cooperate! (We all have a mixture of the three sorts of circuits: Individual, Tribal and Collective, but in quite a few people one will predominate.)

But the Amish, as do many sects, rely on apocalyptic visions (chaos, smoking ruins, nobody about but the Englisch {i.e. non-Amish} stumbling about in the ruins) to keep people in line: Behave, or when Christ comes down to collect us, you won’t be able to go with him!

My other point of interest in the Amish and other such sects is scientific: What is the biological basis for controlling patriarchal scenarios? As the author notes, the stricter the religion regarding sex, the more abuse happens in it. As, of course, Osho told us.

There are animals with harems, bossy males, and so on – walruses, chimps, and so many more – so I’m assuming that, as Osho says, “Humans contain all the animals,” this is some natural evolutionary experiment which will either persist or not… and which it is our responsibility to question and observe, so that we are not caught in it. Anything that interferes in someone else’s life is, karmically, not okay.

I enjoyed the book a lot. The writing is not especially sophisticated, but considering the author was allowed almost no schooling, it is amazingly good. She self-published the book originally and it was bought by more than 100,000 people – among them other Amishness-survivors.

And the story of how she escaped is gripping and full of pathos, and ultimately just a huge relief!

A quote:

“I did not know why people think the Amish are such innocent and kindly people; I guess it is because they are a religious community steeped in secrecy. They only allow the Englisch to see what they want them to see, thus appearing to be quaint and innocent people from a different place in time…

“I shook my head at the thought… a simpler time… Why did people say that? The 1500s and 1600s were a time when people died from plagues and were tortured for their beliefs. There were few human rights; the Crusaders were slaughtering thousands in the name of God. Sure, there was no technology, but that did not mean there were any fewer psychopaths, murderers and rapists than there were now. It is likely that people were even more likely to get away with these crimes than they are now. And who better to know how to get away with these crimes than people that had remained practically unchanged for the past three hundred and fifty years?”

Related book reviews by Madhuri
  • Spiritwalker: Messages from the Future – by Dr Hank Wesselman
  • Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape – by Jenna Miscavige Hill
  • Cartwheels in a Sari: A Memoir of Growing Up Cult – Jayanthi Tamm
  • Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town – by Jon Krakauer

Madhuri is a healer, artist, poet and author of several books, Mistakes on the Path being her latest memoir. madhurijewel.com

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