Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight offer a courageous example of the effort needed to rebuild a life of normalcy after being victimized by a sexual abuser. These three women suffered almost a decade of sexual abuse when held captive in a Cleveland home. The women worked together to produce a video thanking everyone that has stepped forward to offer support and assistance as they attempt to transition back into everyday life and recently released the video on YouTube.
The girls were kidnapped between 2002 and 2004. Ariel Castro, a 52 year-old man who used to work as a school bus driver, is charged with kidnapping the girls. Generally, the crime of kidnapping is a felony punishable by imprisonment. Kidnapping involves physically taking a person against his or her will and not allowing the victim to leave. In this situation, the kidnapper confined with women within a private residence, removing any ability to leave the home.
Michelle Knight sums up the strength of these three women in the video when she states “I may have been through hell and back, but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face and with my head held high. I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation.”
Sexual abuse is a serious crime, and victims can face a lifetime of struggles attempting to heal from the abuse. These women can serve as role models for victims of sexual assault crimes throughout the country, including here in Philadelphia.
Source: The New York Times, “3 Women Held Captive in Cleveland Thank Supporters,” Timothy Williams, July 9, 2013