Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, May 04, 2015

Lives Lost and Found

"There's not a lot of good in his life. It's his own fault, but sometimes I think he's as stuck in this house as we are. He and his ex split years ago, he hates his job, and he's going to prison forever if the police find out what he's done to us. Now he's sitting here holding this beautiful baby who is nothing but pure goodness and he's happy. I think she gives him new meaning in his life."
Amanda Berry, abduction victim
Gina DeJesus, left, Amanda Berry, right; as teens, as adults, their captor, Ariel Castro centre

The world was aghast to discover that an American man had concealed in his modest house located on a lower-middle class neighbourhood street in Cleveland, the presence of three young women who he had kept shackled and abused as sex slaves for ten years of their lives. None of the people living in neighbouring houses had any idea that the 50-year-old school bus driver, the father himself of a young girl, had been keeping three helpless women from pursuing their lives.

Abducted in their teen-age years, kept as prisoners, repeatedly raped, they remained hopeful even while suffering the agony of knowing their families were desperate to find them, just as they were frantic to escape the fate that had befallen them. For ten years they suffered that horrendous state of helplessness, kept in chains, and with no recourse from constant ravaging by the man who enjoyed inflicting pain and misery on three vulnerable young women, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.

Their agony at their dreadful plight cannot even be imagined in its full emotional turmoil and the physical degradation that was forced upon them time after time. Until finally, the captives managed to escape when Amanda Berry one day in May two years ago kicked out the front door of the house, and made use of a neighbour's telephone to call 911, shouting into the receiver: "Help me! I'm Amanda Berry!" By this time she knew her mother had died, while mourning the inexplicable loss of her daughter.

AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File
AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File    In this Wednesday, May 8, 2013 file photo, a missing poster still rests on a tree outside the home of Amanda Berry, in Cleveland.

By this time as well, the woman who had been placed in miserably degrading captivity for ten long agonizing years, was a mother of a seven-year-old little girl, who shared life as a captive with the three women who were the tortured sex slaves of the man who had become her biological father. A man whom her mother, in a newly-published memoir describes as being a loving father to the child, and who died by his own hand while in prison. That child will eventually be informed of the background of her birth.

That she was the product of rape, that her mother and the other two young women imprisoned with her mother were criminally repeatedly abused by a man whose biological offspring she had become. She will have to measure that knowledge with the emotions she may have felt in reciprocating the love that this man gave her as his child, even while his brutally odious treatment of her mother and the other women continued. It will take a strong will to interpret and balance her reaction.

But judging from her mother's recovery from the ordeal she shared with the two other women whom this man horribly victimized, she will manage her emotions to her credit as a strong-willed individual. Her mother has shown great forbearance, an amazing capacity to humanize the man whose conduct was so bestially disgusting, uncaring of the pain he inflicted on helpless women whose ruined lives he had no compunction in claiming credit for.

In the end, that ruination was temporary. And in Amanda Berry's case in particular, enough compassion was possible as a result of her stalwart inner character, to view the man who had wronged her so deeply, physically and mentally, as a vulnerable human being himself. He presented to the world as a man of no human virtue whatever, whose conscience was completely dysfunctional, a psychopath whose destructive imposition on others was utterly damning.

But the capacity of the three women, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, to rise beyond the humiliation, pain and misery that they suffered and to manage somehow, through the inner strength and determination they are obviously imbued with, to get on with their lives, to reach toward the aspiration to live as they were meant to, remains an inspiration to anyone whom life has delivered great suffering to.

AP Photo/Hennes Paynter Communications, File
AP Photo/Hennes Paynter Communications, File   This combo image made from July 8, 2013, file still frames from video provided by Hennes Paynter Communications shows, from left: Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, the three women held captive in a Cleveland home for a decade by Ariel Castro.

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