June 23, 2021

Lizzy Hershberger grew up in the Swartzentruber Amish Community in Southern Minnesota and was the victim of rape and sexual abuse, she wrote a book Behind Blue Curtains.

Lizzy Hershberger grew up in the Swartzentruber Amish Community in Southern Minnesota and was the victim of rape and sexual abuse, she wrote a book Behind Blue Curtains.

Lizzy Hershberger grew up Swartzentruber Amish in southern Minnesota, and still lives in Amish bluff country where she and her husband of 24 years raised four children. Lizzy is the cofounder of Voices of Hope, a national support network for women, and speaks at their conventions and conferences. She has also served as president of her children’s 4-H Club, the Saddle Club, and as an Awana Leader, and School Board member. She testified as a former Amish expert witness and helped win a major case for her county that resulted in a cleaner environment for the community.  Most recently, Lizzy’s story was featured in the February 2020 issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine. At 15, Lizzy was cast out of her strict Swartzenstruber Amish community for being the victim of sexual assault and set out to find a better life. Twenty eight years later, she embarked on a search for her biological father and found herself on a journey that led to national news coverage, as well as a memoir, and most importantly, deep emotional and spiritual healing. Like many women, Lizzy spent a lifetime caring for others and ensuring her children would have a better life than her own. In 2017, when an injury forced her to slow down, Lizzy found her mother’s diaries, then her own, and began to process memories she’d tried to leave behind. Yet she couldn’t leave behind the Amish children in her community who are forced to abandon school for unpaid, live-in domestic work, and who still sit in church with known sexual abusers. Lizzy decided to come forward, and in 2019 Chriss Stutzmann, a deacon in the Amish church, was sentenced on charges of child sexual abuse.  Through telling her story, Lizzy has turned dark periods of suicidal episodes, deep depression and anxiety, into stepping stones of recovery, living in gratitude and opportunities to make a difference. Through sharing her story, she was able to release the old Amish habits and beliefs that no longer serve her while remaining grateful for the positive experiences Amish life provided, including a love for gardening, hiking, horseback riding, listening to thunder and rain, and reading. Lizzy’s memoir, Behind Blue Curtains was published by Nauset Press in March of 2021.

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