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Recovery Process Begins for Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight

Friday, May 10, 2013 at 6:56 PM

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Since news broke Monday that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were alive and had been held captive for ten years or more, details of their story have begun to emerge. They vanished individually, but were imprisoned together in the same house. Their alleged abductor - Ariel Castro, faces charges of kidnapping and rape, with other charges likely to come, including, possibly, capital murder for alleged forced miscarriages. People are celebrating the end of their long ordeal. But as Ideastream's Michelle Kanu reports, for the women, the healing process could take a lifetime.

{While the world has come to know the families of Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus through media coverage, only a very few people have actually had contact with the women. 

Councilman Matt Zone is among them.  He tells WVIZ’s Dick Feagler that he unexpectedly encountered DeJesus while visiting with her parents, and she appeared in good spirits. 

Zone: “She just had this beautiful smile from ear to ear. I really couldn’t tell.  She seemed to be very happy.  But I’m sure she has a long road ahead of her for sure.”

The psychological impact of having been kidnapped and held captive came at a critical time of adolescent development for Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight. 

Dejesus was an early teen at 14 when she went missing.  Berry, just a day away from turning 17.  And at age 20, Michelle Knight was on the brink of adulthood.

Even though they were young when they left their families, that doesn’t mean that they haven’t grown up during their experience.

Carolyn Landis is a clinical psychologist at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

Landis: “They actually had to be mature to survive and to support each other and be ingenious in thinking of ways to make it through the day, I mean coping with boredom and coping with fear.  So in some ways they may have some maturity beyond their years.”

Landis says it’s common for people who have been victims of kidnapping or rape to exhibit signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.  As they recover, Landis says they might dwell on one memory, have difficulty sleeping, or have recurring nightmares. 

Landis: “I don’t think that this unravels in this neat little pathway where you’re getting better, better, better, and then you’re perfectly great.  It’s kind of a rocky road where sometimes they might be feeling really well, and then they might hit a rough patch, because they’re also going to encounter other stressors in their life as they go on.”

Councilman Zone, along with Brian Cummins and Dona Brady have set up a donation fund to help the women cope with those stressors.

While Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus have returned home, Michelle Knight was released from the hospital Friday afternoon and has asked for privacy.

Landis says although the public is anxious to know more, it’s important that the women talk about things on their own terms, in their own time, and with the people that they feel most comfortable. 

Tags

Community/Human Interest, Courts/Crime - Fire/Law Enforcement, Health, Children's Health, Mental Health

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