Child abuse more prevalent in Fundamentalist Religious communities than the Gay Community
He said the Amish distrust of outsiders breeds suspicion of authorities, including providers of mental health and social services. He told the story of one Amish teen who was sentenced to four months in a detention center for abusing a 13-year-old girl. After the sentencing, people stopped reporting abuse, fearing a relative might go to jail, Cats said. And members of the community told the girl that she had to accept some responsibility for the crime to remain in good standing.
He suggested that providers working with such groups try to maintain a presence in the community and identify willing partners while taking a “faith-acceptance” approach.
Allie Darger, a plural wife and member of Independent Fundamentalist Mormons, said she sees many similarities between splinter Mormon groups and the Amish.
“Among fundamentalist [Mormons], there is a diversity and difference of beliefs, and like with any cultural groups, stereotypes exist,” said Darger, who lives in Salt Lake City with her husband, who has two other wives.
She said many polygamist Mormons don’t talk much about the lifestyle and that can lead to stereotyping, isolation and fear of authorities. Darger said she did not talk to police while growing up because she was afraid her polygamist father might be arrested.
She cited the 1953 raid on Short Creek, now the twin communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., home to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In the raid, authorities removed children from polygamist homes and prosecuted their fathers, a strategy that largely failed, politically and legally.
“I was told that would never happen nowadays, but then look at what happened in Texas,” she said, referring to the raid of an FLDS ranch in Eldorado, Texas, where 460 children were taken from their homes.
“That rocked my world,” she said. “Fear of losing put all our communities in crisis.”
Paul Murphy, spokesman for the Utah Attorney General’s Office, said progress has been made through the Safety Net program. Some polygamists now disavow the practice of marriage of underage girls, for example.