Depraved predator’s conduct is exposed at last
Off the fence
AS a mother of three daughters I find it difficult to dwell on the depravity of kidnapper Ariel Castro and how horrific life must have been for his victims at 2207, Seymour Avenue, Cleveland. These three young women, along with the child born during their captivity, were chained and incarcerated for over a decade in the basement of his house. What a tragedy. How perverse.
Gina DeJesus vanished in 2004, aged 14, while walking home from school. Michelle Knight was 20 when she vanished in 2002. Amanda Berry vanished just before her 17th birthday in April 2003. As a mother I can’t help thinking of her mother, Louwanna Miller, who died in 2006 from a broken heart, by all accounts. Imagine the joy and relief she would have experienced at the news that her daughter was alive still.
A week on and the dramatic tragedy of these survivors of kidnap and rape is still unfolding. Like Jaycee Lee Dugard, who spent 18 years in captivity and Elizabeth Fritzl who was incarcerated by her own father, with whom she bore seven children, as the result of rape, these victims will grapple with the psychological fallout from their captivity long after the media has lost interest in their stories.
Thankfully, the vast majority of human beings are incapable of violence – whether that be kidnap, rape, assault or murder. Yet, our history is littered with instances of such cases.
Writer Emma Donoghue’s acclaimed novel, Room was conceived after hearing about five-year-old Felix, the youngest son borne by Elizabeth Fritzl while in captivity. The central character in Room, Jack, is also five. He has never experienced the outside world and has been confined to a small enclosed space for his entire short life. Heroically, his Ma does everything she can to make his life as normal as possible, his mental and physical well-being at all times her priority. Ultimately they escape their captor, Old Nick, but have difficulties adjusting to the real world.
One can only imagine how fast Amanda Berry’s heart was beating last week when she broke out of her dungeon, followed by her six-year-old daughter, Jocelyn and made that 9911 call.
“I’m Amanda Berry. I’ve been kidnapped and I’ve been missing for 10 years and I’m here. I’m free now….”
Six years earlier she had given birth to her daughter in a small paddling pool provided by Castro ‘so the mess was easier to clean up’. Her fellow prisoner, Michelle Knight, helped her deliver the baby, even administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until the little mite could breathe independently. She too had been repeatedly raped by Castro and had become pregnant five times throughout her captivity but each time he had starved and beaten her into miscarriage.
Among the materials found in the dungeon by police were notes written by Castro. One stated:“I am a sexual predator, I need help.” More like it is time for American society to help these girls recover from their unconscionable trauma.