Well, like everyone, Chump Lady has been riveted by the news in Cleveland — the daring escape of Amanda Berry, how three young woman who were missing for a decade were found alive. It’s an amazing story. As if Lazarus came back from the dead… except if Lazarus were tied in a basement and sexually assaulted for years.
You can understand my fascination, I’m sure. A double life. Sexual deviance. Powerlessness. Sociopaths. This is the wheelhouse of Chump Lady. Of course, the story in Cleveland has nothing to do with infidelity. (Although it should be noted that sick bastard Ariel Castro was a wife beater.) But it does have everything to do with resiliency.
No one can imagine the sorts of horrors these women suffered — rape, beatings, forced abortions — let alone confinement and being imprisoned for half their young lives. But somehow, at least Amanda Berry anyway, never forgot who she was. Details are still emerging, but what strikes me is that the strongest among them, who had the only child who survived — Amanda — is the one who led the escape.
She came from some bad ass stock. Her mother, Louwanna, died of a broken heart looking for her — but what struck me about her grief, is that she was righteously pissed. Not just consumed by grief (she clearly was), but angry, and tenacious, and ceaseless. Maybe this killed her, but the woman went down with one hell of a fight. Read this incredible op-ed by Regina Brett, one of the Cleveland Plain Dealer columnists who covered the story for years, and took that anguished mother’s calls.
We don’t know what these young women will make of their lives now. The nightmare is over, and maybe it’s enough to achieve a semi-normalcy, functioning at daily tasks. Some things are not meant to be understood — only survived. Who could ever understand such evil? They survived, and that should be enough.
But I want more for them.
I have this fantasy that they take up careers in law enforcement. That they get black belts in karate. Find solace in nature, or church, or the home shopping network. (Really, I want banal pleasures for them, seeing as they were denied ordinary life for so long.) I want extravagant pleasures for them too — trips to Europe, paid for college educations, high thread count sheets. I want them to trust people again, maybe find a loving partner some day. Have children with someone they love, not someone who raped them. I want a happy ending for them. Escape wasn’t enough for me. I want them to gain the life too.