As the media began covering the brave escape of Amanda Berry from accused kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro, the question asked over and over was, why didn’t they leave? In case you don’t know about this story, three women, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were held captive for about 10 years in what has been called, a house of horrors.
“Why didn’t they leave” brings back memories of my first marriage, which was wrought with domestic violence. I was asked about leaving a number of times, even by the judge who granted my restraining order. My ex-husband’s acts were heinous, so why was I blamed?
Now, imagine being abducted as teens (Michelle Knight was 20 years old) hidden in a house, being chained and raped for ten years. How can anyone in their right mind, wonder why these women didn’t escape? After the length of time spent with an abuser, their fear was overwhelming.
Abusers know how to brainwash their victims. They put the fear of God into them. But, what Ariel Castro did is beyond abuse. Starving these women, raping them, causing miscarriages through beatings, and never allowing them out of the house, is torture.
He kept the women separated from each other most of the time. These girls, who became women while abducted, knew only Ariel Castro and were totally dependent on him. Gina DeJesus told her family that she doesn’t remember how to speak Spanish anymore. Michelle Knight is still hospitalized after being rescued (as of today, it has been 5 days). She was pregnant a number of times, but Ariel Castro starved and punched her in the stomach causing miscarriages. Ariel Berry was raped and has a child, whom Ariel Castro threated to abuse.
By questioning these tortured women’s ability to “leave”, they are made scapegoats. They are humiliated. And victim blaming continues.