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“Turning Tragedies into Triumphs:  Stories & Conversations with Torah Bontrager” is a weekly podcast that features amazing and courageous individuals who have come forward to share their stories with the world.  The conversations between two fellow survivors take 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.

A companion show to her memoir An Amish Girl in Manhattan, Torah created the podcast to emphasize that trauma (of all colors, shapes, and sizes-- not only sexual) knows no boundaries and that her story of repeat sexual assault, abandonment, parental rejection, identity crises, disastrously failed romantic relationships and trust issues are heartbreakingly universal in our national and global cultures. 

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. 

Please ask us questions and leave comments.  We will read all of them.  We want this to be an interactive show and build a strong community of support both online and offline.  Every four or five episodes, we will do a special "Question and Answer" segment where we pick from what's been submitted.  The more you comment/ask, the higher your chances of getting answered via the special. 

INVITATION CALL:  If you would like to share your story with the world, please contact us at  No story is insignificant.  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 human-hood of strong women, men and other/no-genders.

Mar 1, 2017

Fiona Teng, an activist and writer of “Fatherlessness: The Presence of Dad’s Absence” on The Huffington Post discusses the long-term effects of growing up in the absence of a present father and how not feeling loved by the first male figure in her life negatively impacted her future romantic relationships.  When she was 10 years old, her family immigrated to California to avoid what might become of Hong Kong and the Beijing regime in 1997, but her father returned to Asia shortly thereafter and gradually faded from her life.  She says that “your father is the first male figure in your life and when he leaves, it makes you believe that everyone in your life will leave.”  In her 20s while on a flight to a wedding in Hawaii, she suddenly started writing and that marked the beginning of her healing journey.


  • What Fiona’s punishment was from her father for spilling rice grains from her bowl during meals
  • Fiona’s favorite mindfulness/meditation teacher
  • Some of Fiona’s romantic ups and downs that eventually led to her ability to create more healthy, romantic relationships


  1. Fiona’s writing: 
  2. “Fatherlessness: The Presence of Dad’s Absence”:
  3. Thich Nhat Hanh, Mindfulness Teacher:
  4. See S1Ep1: James Schwartz on Growing up Gay and Amish in America, Unconventional Schooling and Trump Politics for James’ answer to the forgiveness question
  5. See S1Ep3: Sovilla and Lucinda Coblentz on Escaping the Amish as Young Female Teens, Wearing Lipstick and Seeking the Path of Personal Freedom for Lucinda and Sovilla’s insight on Torah’s pre-escape days