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Escaping Monsters

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.

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  • An unbelievable story. I pray that the three women can overcome the nightmare they have endured for more than a decade. I can’t imagine what they have been through, and don’t even think I want to try.

    The three monsters who kept them should be thanking God I’m not in charge of doling out punishment. If I was, they would be tried, convicted, led out in front of the courthouse, forced to their knees and then each would have a bullet through the back of their head.

    • Why waste more when one would do the trick? Three bullets times around .25 cents each is more than enough money to waste on those monsters.

      • When I hear these horrible stories, my problems seem so small in comparison. My heart goes out to those girls and their families.

  • Beautifully said CL. Whenever I want to really sink into self-pity over the years of my life my ex “wasted,” I will think of this young lady who suffered and never stopped fighting against so much worse. It is humbling.

  • This is definitely a thousand count Egyptian cotton situation. Perhaps we can all take a look at this and learn never to give up hope, keep fighting for OUR freedom and go after the lives that we want. Thanks CL.

  • I’m in awe of the neighbor – a guy having his Big Mac who had chummed a bit with the captor – having cookouts and drinks with him; he admitted that he thought she was screaming to get out of the house as a result of a “domestic violence incident”. And he nonetheless ripped the door down to get her out. How many people would’ve just ignored her? Especially being buddies with the homeowner? That man had a moral compass and cared to help someone he could have just ignored; and now 4 people (including the child) have a chance at actually living.

    It was the neighbors that saved these women when she screamed. Neighbors in a tired looking, lower income area that gave a shit when they knew something wasn’t right.

    • I totally agree, marcie — well said! Charles Ramsey is a total hero.

      There’s another neighbor on the BBC who called the police last July when her granddaughter saw a naked woman crawling around the yard. She says she was brushed off, and admits that she didn’t push as hard as she should’ve. She also said the neighborhood wants the house burned down.

  • Hope everyone read the op-ed piece by Regina Brett. Excellent! I posted it on my facebook page too

  • Remember the story in Europe a couple years ago where the father kept his own adult daughter in a dungeon dug out from the basement, and she bore him several children before escaping like 25 years later s middle aged woman! And, her father had given her mom a line about how daughter had joined a cult, but the babies “kept showing up on the doorstep” for grandma to raise with a supposed note from the estranged (kidnapped) daughter….

    and turns out he would go to Thailand every so often to engage in sex tourism, and the daughter and the kids in the dungeon knew if he was delayed or died, they could starve to death….
    ….just made my skin crawl…. I lost lots of sleep over that newsstory.

    • I still think about that story too. So twisted. I hope that guy was put to a very drawn out and painful death. I also still think of Elizabeth Smart. So horrible how these women had to live through something so tragic. I hope they can go on and have happy lives.

  • Absolutely chilling. I hope there’s a special plane set aside in hell for those guys because no punishment on earth could be bad enough.

  • You can’t help but wonder what those three men were like as children. It boggles the mind that those siblings each were so warped as to carry on this travesty in unison.

    What they stole from those girls can never be re-instated. No matter what society hands to them as punishment, it will never adequately fit the crime they’ve committed. I fancy the idea that they should have some parasite placed in their bodies… the kind that eats away at them then hatches and breaks through their skin.

  • I understand that infidelity causes anger, and the monsters in Cleveland deserve severe punishment, but am I the only one seriously uncomfortable with this fantasy?

    Castration? Really?

    The decade-plus of cheating I endured never led met to fantasize about sexually mutilating females. And I would not walk, but RUN to counseling if it did. FWIW, more than a few serial killers got their start mutilating animals.

    • I understand where you’re coming from, nomar. Interestingly enough, my STBXH will talk about castration when he hears of some man abusing women sexually. He also makes a big deal about cognitive dissonance, but hasn’t figured out that by being unfaithful to me, he’s abused the one person who put absolute trust in him, which he’s abused absolutely.


      • Ooops! NO editing button and the keyboard to this notebook has a mind of its own.

        My revenge fantasies involve living a good life, while STBXH self-destructs in his relationship with OW. I think that’s sufficient. 🙂

        On the other hand, STBX isn’t a monster. I’ve met one real-life monster, a man whom my sister married when she was young, stupid, and taken in by sociopathic sparkles. She divorced him a year later, as he was physically abusing her, and stealing her student loan money. He, on the other hand, discovered he liked being married to his victims. His next wife had a 3-year-old son. The monster not only beat the mother, but also the son. He also bit the boy, too–including around and on his penis.

        I hate the infidelity. Good people do NOT cheat. But my STBX isn’t a monster.

        I suspect that some of the Ex’s and STBXs of other Chumplings may have more experience with real monsters than I have, though.

  • I am scared for my children. These monsters walk among us.

    These kids were taken through no fault of their parents. It could happen to *any* child. No one is immune. No amount of precaution can stop these predators.

    It makes me want to put a GPS microchip in my daughter’s skin somewhere, so I could find her, if the worst would happen.

  • Thanks for the post CL. I’m so wrapped up in my own drama, I stopped following the news, so this was the first I’d heard of it. I did read up on the story and I am reminded that others are suffering out there and need help and there is always good work to do to help others who need it.

    While the girls went through hell, and probably have a long hard path to recovery, I can’t help but feel a little inspired about Charles Ramsey’s bravery and, relatively speaking, a “happy ending.”

    I look forward to the day I can go back to truly focusing on others and on helping others. Perhaps an excuse, but this affair/divorce stuff consumes most of my time and energy.

  • Thanks CL, the abduction, rape and torture of these women make me wonder how many other women are in the same predicament?

    I reflect on my own horror of divorce and realize that at least I had some control in my situation. These women did not. I would imagine, in order to survive their harrowing ordeal, they had to shut off parts of their mind in order not to go crazy. It makes me realize how bad others REALLY have it. My dilemma is nothing in comparison.

    I HATE to hear stories of abuse—especially on this level—It makes me angry! When I see stories like this on the news, it makes me wish that the women who have been saved will do exactly as you said. I imagine them like ninjas moving silently in the night, and finding those who hurt them and doing unspeakable things to them. Castration is too good for those assholes. Let them suffer the same fate they inflicted upon those poor women. Send them all to Pervert Island and let them suffer. An eye for an eye…

    I know this type of thinking isn’t ‘Christian’, but I really hate it when the young and innocent or even the old and helpless are victimized. Makes me sick knowing that these monsters live among us.

  • What a perspective builder for all of us. We bandy words like “abuse”, “travesty”, “injustice” and “harm” about when talking about our atrocious divorces. And we *are* hurt as a result of the bad treatment we receive.

    But this ~ this is in a whole other category. This is criminal behavior. A slippery slope that begins with disrespect and slides into the snake pit of depravity.

    These women survived it. And they deserve a decent chance to start over. Let us hold them close in our hearts these next few days ~ and long after the news cycle lets it go. We know different. We know they are there.

  • Agh. No more violence talk. I’m guilty of this myself, but I’m deleting refs to bullets and cutting off balls. The world is an ugly enough place — let’s be outraged, but not go uglier. Thanks.

  • The human spirit and what it can survive is awe-inspiring. I do hope these women go on and find real happiness. And after hearing some of Elizabeth Smart’s interviews regarding some of the emotions they may be feeling, I hope they do not feel shame or blame about what happened and that they know it had nothing to do with them and everything to do with their captor’s twistedness…

  • I am a abuse survivor, but what these children, now women, went through is far beyond anything I experienced, I hope they have all the help they need to heal from it. I cannot imagine how they continued so long, the strength and resilience Amanda exhibited after 10 years being imprisoned and abused is amazing. I hope the perpetrators are never able to ever harm anyone again, that is what the survivors need to even begin to feel safe again. I wish my abuser would drop dead because it’s the only way I can ever feel completely safe from him again. But I could not envision killing him or hurting him myself. I really could not do that except in self defense. I’m not sure people really mean it when they advocate torture for crimes, I hope they don’t.

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