I can’t believe that anyone would keep someone captive for any period of time, let alone years. However, that was the case with Amanda Berry, now 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, who were all abused physically, sexually, and psychologically for a decade in a house with boarded up windows. The three women were finally freed after two neighbors responded to Amanda Berry’s call for help by kicking in the front door. Ariel Castro, who police say held these women captive at first by tying them up in chains and rope in the basement and sexually assaulting them repeatedly, has been charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.
According to David A. Wolfe, a senior scientist and psychologist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health at the University of Toronto, the relationship between abuser and victim can get complicated because the victims develop complicated and mixed emotions toward the abuser in order to survive.
The good news is that it is possible to turn around from the damage with the help of friends and family, specific therapies, and privacy, safety and time to come to terms with the traumatic experience. However, there will be negative effects from the abuse such as depression and/or post-traumatic stress disorder. Once again, the positive side is that about 80 percent of abuse victims who receive weekly therapy show significant improvement after three to four months.
Terri L. Weaver, a professor of psychology at St. Louis University, said that the presence of other captives in the house may have helped the women cope better.
Amanda Berry’s daughter, now 6, who was born during captivity, has an equal chance of overcoming the challenge of her early life. Dr. Weaver said, “There are all types of children in this world that were conceived in violent and traumatic circumstances who come to an understanding of those circumstances and go on to have very happy lives.”
It is a horrible shame that these three women had to endure prolonged abuse, but it is good news that now they are safe and able to turn their lives around. Good thing Amanda Berry called for help.
Goode, Erica. “Emotional Recovery Seen Possible for Victims of Prolonged Abuse.” The New York Times. N.p., 09 May 2013. Web. 15 July 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/10/us/emotional-recovery-seen-possible-in-cleveland-case.html?_r=0>.