What rules have you broken
to become who you are today?
 
No story is insignificant.

You don’t have to be extraordinary to be Extraordinary.

What’s the one traumatic or uncomfortable thing

you don’t want to talk about

 

that has helped you become the success you are today?

APPEAR ON THE PODCAST

I’m an entrepreneur, academic, or trauma support provider and I want to share my story, because I like the work you’re doing on re-branding the Amish and removing the stigma of trauma.

NOTE: If you are not comfortable with a video recording, we offer audio-only, voice distortion and/or anonymous recordings.

APPEAR ON THE PODCAST

I’m a sexual assault or other trauma survivor and I want to share my story.

NOTE: If you are not comfortable with a video recording, we offer audio-only, voice distortion and/or anonymous recordings for security reasons.

We want you to feel safe enough to start speaking out and we don’t want appearing on video to be a barrier for you to tell your story.

the Amish Entrepreneur Show with Torah Bontrager (on iTunes and our website)

VIEW THE PODCAST

I produce + host a seasonal weekly podcast:
 the Amish Entrepreneur Show
with Torah Bontrager

Every Wednesday | 11p ET

Season 1 is now streaming
Season 2 started June 30

About the Podcast

the Amish Entrepreneur Show with Torah Bontrager is a seasonal weekly podcast on re-branding the Amish and establishing a new generation of Amish leaders so we can get heard and add our contribution to the world.

The way we explore and execute on this is by bringing on to the show leaders in all areas of industry who can advise us on how to evolve, specifically through the vehicles of entrepreneurship and academia.


NOTE: We’ve gone through a name change: Season 1 of the podcast is called Turning Tragedies into Triumphs: Stories & Conversations.

What everyone on this show has in common is a story of trauma, hardship, or other challenges. The theme of last season, the pilot run, was turning tragedies into triumphs. This season’s theme is branding and education.

Last but not least, the underlying goal is to collect 1,111 stories of trauma, specifically sexual assault. I believe that that number of voices speaking out is all that is needed to permanently drastically reduce the rate of sexual assault worldwide.

The Challenge

Challenge #1: We Amish refugees (those who have escaped from the church) have a hard time transitioning into mainstream America and the global 21st century. We’re not educated (we’re forbidden from going to school beyond the 8th grade), we’re not recognized as a highly disadvantaged minority group, we speak English as a second language, and we feel all alone.

Who are our leaders?
Who can we look up to who has traveled this path before us?

 
 
Challenge #2: We survivors of sexual assault (and other traumas) are not believed by society. Society says that we are the problem, not the perpetrators, and that we should just “get over” what happened and forget about it.

Suck it up, stuff it down, pop a pill, go back to work.
That’s the current roadmap for processing trauma.
It DOES NOT WORK.

We need a roadmap that actually helps us take back our personal sovereignty and dignity, and we need society to start saying “I believe you” instead of victim-blaming and attacking as the first response when we speak out about what happened to us.

The Solution

 
 

Solution #1: Establishing a new generation of Amish leaders by connecting successful entrepreneurs, academics, and trauma support providers with Amish refugees (and other closed society refugees that fall through the cracks. E.g., Mennonites, Mormons, etc.).

 
 
 

Solution #2: Collecting 1,111 stories of trauma

How will this change anything?

What’s In It For Me?

Permanent Boost in Productivity

The bad, shameful, or uncomfortable memories and experiences we repress keep running in the background all our lives, like a computer that’s never turned off. This consumes precious amounts of our energy, which could instead go toward being even more badass and productive than we already are.

Stealing Back your Freedom

Speaking out and owning our trauma(s) reclaims our personal power, sovereignty, and dignity. Knowing that we’re not alone is priceless (just in the area of sexual assault, there are 50 Million of us in the USA), and so is our restored self-confidence and self-compassion. Your life will change drastically when you make your stand and keep speaking out.

This is what our BADASS SUPERHERO guests say:

“Talking about sexual assault makes people squirm.”

Lucinda Coblentz
Amish Escapee | Entrepreneur (JH Woodworking, www.jhwoodworks.com)

Season 1, Episode 17, "Title of Espisode"

“Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. In in risus eget lectus suscipit malesuada. Maecenas ut urna mollis, aliquam eros at, laoreet metus. Proin ac eros eros. Suspendisse auctor, eros ac sollicitudin vulputate, urna arcu sodales quam, eget faucibus eros ante nec enim.”

Jeffrey Hayzlett
Global Business Celebrity
CEO of C-Suite Network

Season 2, Episode X, "Title of Espisode"

“Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. In in risus eget lectus suscipit malesuada. Maecenas ut urna mollis, aliquam eros at, laoreet metus. Proin ac eros eros. Suspendisse auctor, eros ac sollicitudin vulputate, urna arcu sodales quam, eget faucibus eros ante nec enim.”

Lori Ruff
LinkedIn Diva

Season 1, Episode 17, "Title of Espisode"

“Speaking out and sharing my story about sexual assault has given me more self-confidence and compassion toward myself as I process what happened.”

Erika W.
Massage Therapist | Self-Love and Empowerment Coach

Season 1, Episode 17, "Title of Espisode"

Collecting 1,111 Stories of Trauma

#OwnYourTrauma

What everyone on this show has in common, Amish and non-Amish alike, is a story of trauma. In one degree or another, everyone has been affected by it.

Trauma doesn’t discriminate.

It is through that angle that we select what kind of leaders are on this show. The kind of leaders who are willing to talk about the hard stuff. To share the one thing they don’t usually want to talk about that has made them into the success they are today. Those are the kind of people we can learn from the most.

99.9% of sex offenders (i.e., extremely violent criminals) are never convicted and they could be your next-door neighbor, colleague, bishop/pastor, or teacher


 
E.g., My uncle Enos Bontrager (in Fond du lac, Cambria, and/or Friesland, Wisconsin) is a lifelong serial sexual predator (child molestation + repeat rape) but because the courts refuse to convict him, you or your child are at risk.  He’s allowed to roam free within any community/neighborhood without you ever knowing that he’s a criminal and terrorist.  See my story on Huffington Post for details about this particular case.  

My uncle Harvey Bell (in Alder, Montana and Alaska) will never have to even go through a criminal trial because the statute of limitations in Montana expired before I had the psychological and emotional capacity and courage to report him.   This means that he NEVER has to pay for his crimes of repeat rape.  In other words, this is the equivalent of a serial murderer never being subjected to criminal investigation because 10 years (i.e., Montana’s statute of limitations) passed by before the murders were reported. 

This is someone who threatened to kill me if I ever spoke out and that death threat terrorized me and bought my complete silence for 13 years.  I didn’t even publicly disclose his name until 21 years later because I was still terrified that he’d have me killed if I didn’t keep his secret.

  • GOAL: Collecting 1,111 stories of sexual assault 1%
  • Female survivors 90%
  • Male survivors 10%
  • Survivors who are Entrepreneurs 80%
One of the two goals of this show is to collect 1,111 stories of trauma, specifically sexual assault.

I believe that that number of voices speaking out is all we need to permanently drastically reduce the rate of assault worldwide.

What would the world be like after 50 million survivors speak out?

Statistically, that’s how many of us that there are in the United States of America alone.

What will we do with this data?

Create a free online user-submitted database that tracks all reports of sexual assault. Currently, sex criminals are listed on public record ONLY IF they are convicted in a court of law.

99.9% of sex offenders (i.e., violent criminals) are never convicted and they could be your next-door neighbor, colleague, bishop/pastor, or teacher.

1 out of 3 females and 1 out of 10 males are assaulted.  Or in other words, someone is assaulted every minute of every day. 

Are you going to make me look bad on the podcast?

For those of you who are experienced with media appearances, we edit as biased as possible towards making you look good, even if I (Torah) completely disagree with your views. 

I’m not in the business of ambushing people or making them look bad in the public eye.

One of my closest friends is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who earned my trust because of how he treated me as a subject for one of his projects (the “I’m Ex-Amish” episode on MTV’s True Life series).  I know how important it is to feel comfortable putting your story in the hands of a complete stranger.

YES, I'd like a 10-min chat to discuss a possible appearance.

We don't share the same beliefs. Is it safe to talk to you anyway?

This podcast’s mandate is to collect stories of challenges from all walks of life and present them from a macro-level perspective that rises above black vs white, male vs female, rich vs poor, Republican vs Democrat, Christian vs Muslim, religion vs spirituality, etc.

I want to connect on the emotionally compelling parts of our stories that we have in common, especially on the things that society says are

1.  shameful or taboo,

2.  on the secrets we keep because we’re considered weak if we openly talk about them, and

3.  on the rules we’ve broken to become who we are today, etc.

More FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What's in it for me?

1. If you’re a sexual assault or other trauma survivor:

The act of speaking out reclaims your personal power, sovereignty, and dignity. To hear “I believe you” from a community of supporters and fellow survivors is beyond priceless. Those words are food for our soul.  I would never have been able to complete my memoir had it not been for the unwavering support of my public and private social media community.

2. If you’re not a trauma survivor or don’t wish to disclose that part of your story:

Your appearance on the show is mostly purely an act of charity at this point. We don’t have a big enough audience yet to guarantee anything significant. Right now, lending your name will help us more than it’ll help you; but I’ll do everything possible to create a return for you on your investment.

I’m up to big things. And always happy to promote you to my audience and to share my network and resources with you in the meantime. Just ask. I might be able to help you in unexpected ways. (I’m an Ivy League alumna who’s well-read, well-traveled, well-connected, book and street smart, has invested over 6 figures in personal/self-development over the past eight years, and knows a ton of obscure things about people and the world that have made my past clients very happy. I’m the queen of accomplishing “impossible” things.)

Why should I trust you?
Nothing you tell me will shock me.  I’ve earned my trauma stripes:

1.  Survivor of childhood molestation (by an uncle––Enos Bontrager in Wisconsin––and other Amish kids, male and female)

2.  Survivor of repeat rape by multiple predators (two uncles, Harvey Bell in Montana/Alaska and Enos Bontrager in Wisconsin).  See the Huffington Post article “Survivor Speaks Out Against Amish Rape Culture Ahead of Sentencing”.

3.  Tried to kill myself 6 times over the past 21 years

4.  Out of the blue, I lost my then-fiance to suicide when I was 31.  He was the only person I loved at the time, and I thought he was “the one”. 

5.  Went through a 4-year “dark night of the soul” in which I experienced a full physical body breakdown and couldn’t get out of bed for on average 20 hours per day for over 50% of that time period.  Yeah, there was nothing at all wrong with me during this entire time, according to all the western doctors I saw.  My bloodwork and all standard western tests were 100% perfect.

6.  Was physically, verbally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually/religiously abused every day from birth to age 15.  The abuse and neglect from my Amish parents, Henry Bontrager and Ida Bontrager, was so bad that I had no choice but to figure out a way to escape from the only life, culture, and world I ever knew or kill myself. 

7.  Literally escaped from my birth family and culture in the middle of the night when I was age 15 without telling a single person “good bye”–with only $170 USD in my pocket and the clothes on my back.  I had a failed first attempt and was put under Amish house arrest for that until I figured out a second escape plan.  As punishment for my first attempt, I had to endure hardcore terrorist-style interrogation and torture routines from my Amish father Henry.

8.  For most of my adolescent through adult life, I had no backup.  There was no one I could rely on for financial support, a roof over my head, or food on my table.  Most of this time I lived in extreme poverty.  At the worst point (in my late 20s when everything imploded because I still hadn’t dealt with my childhood traumas), I asked my Amish father for food (only because I didn’t have enough money to buy even one apple).  He never responded.  Today, I’m financially secure and 100% confident that I will always be able to easily provide for myself. 

 

Last but not least, I’m a trusted confidant.  I’ve built a powerful and wealthy business and personal network over the past 21 years because people like me.  There are also certainly many people who don’t like me (and the more public I become, the more haters there will be).  I seem to either strongly attract or strongly repel.  You have to listen to your heart and decide for yourself whether you can trust me or want to take that risk.   It goes without saying that if you’re really concerned, you should watch all the episodes to date in order to get a better sense for who I am or what I’m about.

When will my episode air?

You’ll get an email from us after we’ve decided on a release date.  Sometimes we don’t release until later in the season and other times, we release a lot earlier.  It just depends on the content of the conversation and where I feel it’d fit best in the narrative of the current (or future) podcast show season.  Release dates range from 2 to 12 weeks post-recording.  If you’re an entrepreneur or have a time-sensitive service/product to offer, let me know upfront so we can get you slated early enough.

Are you going to make me look bad on the podcast?

For those of you who are experienced with media appearances, I stick to the agreed-upon topics if discussed beforehand and we also edit as biased as possible towards making you look good, even if I (Torah) completely disagree with your views.   See Warren Whitlock’s episode for an example.  I focus on the things we have in common and I’m as non-judgmental as possible because I want you to feel safe sharing your story.  Yes, I’m anti- Judeo-Christian-Muslim God (or any absolutist authority figure for that matter), but I don’t care if you believe in that God IF that belief genuinely makes you a better, kinder person. 

I’m not in the business of ambushing people or making them look bad in the public eye.  If I really don’t like you, a) you probably won’t like me either and won’t even want to be on the show, or b) I won’t bring you on the show.

One of my closest friends is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who earned my trust because of how he treated me as a subject for one of his projects (the “I’m Ex-Amish” episode on MTV’s True Life series).  I know how important it is to feel comfortable putting your story in the hands of a complete stranger.

We don't share the same beliefs. Is it safe to talk to you anyway?

This podcast’s mandate is to collect stories of challenges from all walks of life and present them from a macro-level perspective that rises above black vs white, male vs female, rich vs poor, Republican vs Democrat, Christian vs Muslim, religion vs spirituality, etc.

Whenever possible, I focus on the things we have in common.  See Warren Whitlock’s episode for an example.  Yes, I’m anti- Judeo-Christian-Muslim God (or any absolutist authority figure for that matter), but I don’t care if you believe in that God IF that belief genuinely makes you a better, kinder person. 

I want to connect on the emotionally compelling parts of our stories that we have in common, especially on the things that society says are

1.  shameful or taboo,

2.  on the secrets we keep because we’re considered weak if we openly talk about them, and

3.  on the rules we’ve broken to become who we are today, etc.

I want to share my story, but I'm not comfortable being on video. Can I record audio-only and/or have my voice distorted?

If you’re a trauma survivor, we want you feel safe enough to start speaking out and we don’t want appearing on video to be a barrier for you to tell your story.  If you are not comfortable with a video recording, we offer audio-only, voice distortion and/or anonymous recordings for security reasons.

If you’re not a trauma survivor, we offer the same options; just ask if you’d feel more comfortable not appearing on video.

Origin Story of the Podcast

A companion show to my memoir An Amish Girl in Manhattan:  How to Turn Your Tragedies into Assets and Set Yourself Free by Breaking All the Rules, I created the podcast to emphasize that trauma (of all colors, shapes, and sizes–not only sexual) knows no boundaries and that my story of repeat sexual assault, abandonment, parental rejection, identity crises, disastrously failed romantic relationships, and trust issues are heartbreakingly universal in our local, national, and global cultures.

 


I’m determined to create a permanent, drastic reduction in the rate of sexual assault worldwide, starting with my people of birth, the Amish.  It’s time to clean house.

There are 50 Million of us sexual assault survivors just in the USA alone.  There is no reason that 50 Million of us cannot permanently reduce this type of extreme and terroristic violence, which is worst than murder (many of us wish we had just been killed instead of being forced to live with the lifelong repercussions while those who assaulted us get to roam undisturbed and free on this planet).  Society doesn’t blindly look the other way or actively protect murderers.  Neither should sexual assault terrorists be given a pass.

Please rate us on iTunes and ask us questions and leave comments. We read all of them and take your feedback seriously.  We want this to be a top-rated interactive iTunes show and we want to build a strong community of trauma/emotional + entrepreneurial support both online and offline. 

Every season, we will do several special “Question and Answer” segments where we pick from what’s been submitted.  The more you comment/ask, the higher your chances of getting answered via the special. 

the Amish Entrepreneur Show with Torah Bontrager is a seasonal weekly podcast on re-branding the Amish and establishing a new generation of Amish leaders so we can get heard and add our contribution to the world.

What everyone on this show has in common is a story of trauma, hardship, or other challenges. The theme of last season, the pilot run, was turning tragedies into triumphs.  Season 2’s theme is branding and education.

 

The conversation between two fellow survivors or entrepreneurs takes place over a virtual dining room table in a safe, judgment-free zone where we not only learn about accounts often never publicly disclosed before, but we also learn a little bit more about Torah along the way.

Watch the episodes to be inspired and to know that you’re not alone and that you don’t have to be extraordinary to be Extraordinary. New episodes air each Wednesday.

 

NOTE: We’ve gone through a name change: Season 1 of the podcast is called Turning Tragedies into Triumphs: Stories & Conversations.

The seemingly smallest things that happened to us as children can have a lifetime negative impact if left unaddressed.

This podcast and community is designed for you to feel safe, speak out in your own words, and experience non-judgment and unconditional love from a people-hood of strong women, men and other/no-genders.

Torah has been featured or quoted in:

Self-Schedule Instantly

OPTION 1: Self-schedule a 10-Min Exploratory Chat with Torah to decide if you’d like to appear on the podcast.

OPTION 2: Self-schedule a 40-Min Recorded Interview/Conversation with Torah (and skip the exploratory chat).

Appear on Podcast