When most people think of the Amish, images are conjured up of a simple lifestyle harkening back to yesteryear. However peaceful (and religious) Amish people may be, their communities are also plagued by similar issues to the rest of society, including sexual abuse.
Many of the TV shows about the Amish focus on the period in their lives when they venture out into society and determine their future path, so little emphasis is put on what goes on in their secretive communities. However, Peacock's new series, Sins of the Amish, spotlights an entirely different side of their community that is much darker.
One of its stars is Mary Byler, who shares her story of overcoming abuse within the Amish community, something that has caught the attention of many of the show's viewers. With that being said, what do we know about where she is now?
Where is Mary Byler from 'Sins of the Amish' now?
Mary's recollections on Sins of the Amish were moving, to say the least. Despite wrapping filming on the show, Mary is continuing her life mission to advocate for abuse victims within her former community and all Amish communities. In a 2005 conversation with Legal Affairs, which came roughly six months after she left her Amish lifestyle behind, she gave some insight into her life at the time.
When Mary left the community, she quickly pierced her ears, earned her GED and driver's license, got a car, and got a job cleaning a hospital in La Crosse, Wis. Despite being out of the community for over two decades, Mary's outspoken efforts on social media and in real life, coupled with her traumatic early life story, earned her a spot on Sins of the Amish, which aired in 2022.
Nowadays, as evident by her Facebook, Mary is as much of an advocate for abuse victims as ever. She frequently posts about topics related to PTSD, abuse trauma, arrests of abusers made within and surrounding Amish communities, and a variety of other related issues.
While appearing on Sins of the Amish, Mary gave some horrifying insight into what kinds of abuse young Amish girls face within their communities.
Mary explained how young Amish women are victimized during her appearance on 'Sins of the Amish.'
Mary revealed an old sex education pamphlet titled, "To the Girl of 11," which essentially tried to normalize unwarranted sexual behavior toward young girls in the community. She cited parts of the pamphlet that referred to a young boy's puberty as "a powerful driving force within" that "every decent girl will do her best to help him, and not make it harder for him."
The pamphlet even justified incest to a degree, saying, "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."
Mary knew this firsthand as she was previously a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of her two brothers.
Unfortunately, hiding from the boys' advances didn't help her. "He would take off the hinges," Mary recalled about her brother. "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 decided to run away in 2004 and has since gone on to live a life far removed from her abusers.
Eventually, Mary took her two brothers to court for their crimes. Her elder brother, Johnny, confessed to raping Mary upwards of 200 times but only received one year in prison with the ability to leave for work. On top of that, droves of people from Mary's former community came to defend Johnny, with Mary's own mother writing to the judge presiding over the case, "I have a feeling she is doing this out of spite more than anything."
Regardless of the pushback from her former community, Mary is seemingly doing well on her own and working diligently against abusers and the systems that empower them within Amish circles to this day.
To check out more of Mary and plenty of other courageous victims' stories, be sure to stream Sins of the Amish on Peacock.
If you need support, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit RAINN.org to chat online one-on-one with a support specialist at any time.