‘Sins of the Amish’ is a gripping two-part documentary series on Peacock that delves into harrowing experiences of sexual abuse among the Amish and Mennonite communities. Directed by Daniel Sivan and Mor Loushy, it chronicles the accounts of courageous ex-Amish women who have dared to raise a voice against their abusers and have bravely stood up for themselves and their loved ones.
One such person who has been tirelessly fighting for justice for fellow survivors is activist and author Misty Griffin. A former Amish herself, she not just fearlessly reported her perpetrator to the law but also published her self-written memoir to inspire others. Let’s find out more about her, shall we?
Who is Misty Griffin?
Misty Griffin was not born into the Amish community, but her mother and step-father began reading books and soon adopted the community’s customs for their family. This included discarding the modern appliances they owned, as well as a drastic change in clothing and lifestyle. As per Misty, her mother and step-father abused her and her sister. Since she was six, the two sisters were raised as Amish on an isolated mountain ranch in Northern Washington. Things were so extreme that the girls were reportedly not allowed to mingle with outsiders.
Therefore, Misty tried escaping when she was nearly 19 but was sent to live in a small and conservative Amish community, where she and her sister were taken in by two families. But since the married couple Misty lived with already had marital problems, she began having conflicts with her adoptive mother. Around 3 years later, she moved into the bishop’s house to help his ailing wife look after seven of their children, who were aged under 12. In the Amish, the bishop is considered the most powerful figure and tops the social hierarchy.
As per Misty, just within a few days of her moving in with the bishop and his family, he began sexually assaulting her by indecently exposing himself to her in several instances. Not just that, in a November 2018 interview, she shared, “…on other occasions, he would stare at my breasts, push his erection into my back or pretend to hug me when no one was around and run his hands up and down my body. I felt trapped, alone and scared…every night I lay awake, afraid he would come into my room.” The worst happened when the bishop allegedly raped the young adult one night.
Misty painfully reminisced, “It seemed like I went in and out of consciousness… What I remember, is he came into my room. I believe at some point, he put a pillow over my face and he had his hands under my clothes…I believe that he did some things that were really worse than what I can remember because my body hurt afterward but I can’t remember it to say for sure what he did.” After six months of constant abuse, Misty said that she discovered that the bishop was also molesting his 12-year-old daughter. This is when she decided to approach the police about her abuser’s heinous actions.
However, contacting the police is reportedly frowned upon among the Amish, as they believe in mildly reprimanding perpetrators within the community by putting them in Bann, that is, socially shunning them for six weeks. Misty further found out that the bishop had already been in Bann earlier for molesting one of his daughters. She was determined to report him to the police, but when he found out, Misty said he tried physically intimidating her.
Luckily, Misty sought help from a non-Amish neighbor and went to the police in 2005, but they reportedly turned her down as she did not have substantial evidence against him. That same year, 22-year-old Misty left the Amish community with the help of her step-father’s kind sister and began adapting to a new life in the outside world. Coming to the bishop, he and his family shifted to Canada just a month after she had reported him and the investigation halted.
Meanwhile, Misty struggled with PTSD but managed to successfully clear her GED. In 2012, she began writing her memoir about her experiences, titled, ‘Tears of the Silenced: An Amish True Crime Memoir of Childhood Sexual Abuse, Brutal Betrayal, and Ultimate Survival.’ In 2014, she self-published the book and began getting responses from numerous survivors like her.
Where is Misty Griffin Now?
Misty Griffin’s endeavors to get the bishop punished for his crimes bore fruit when around 2016, he and his family returned to the country. Subsequently, his oldest daughter found support in a church member in their new community and reported him for child abuse to save their younger sister. He pleaded guilty to child molestation after confessing that he had abused six of his children and is presently serving a 10-year prison sentence.
On the other hand, Misty became an advocate for ex-Amish abuse survivors and has helped build a small support community for those with similar stories. After clearing her GED, she met her husband, Vincenzo Piccirillo, during missionary group training. She expressed that he motivated her to write her memoir. Misty got her bachelor’s degree in nursing in mid-2019 and also ran a petition to help seek support against abuse in religious communities like the Amish and Mennonites. She presently resides with her husband in Pasadena, California, and continues being an activist for abuse survivors.
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