The three young women who were held in captivity for nearly a decade in a Cleveland home are now speaking out to thank their many supporters and those that didn’t give up on them. It’s only been a couple of months since they were freed from Ariel Castro’s tight grip and they are still adjusting to their new found liberty. Castro, a 52-year-old former school bus driver, has been charged with kidnapping the girls off the streets of the city and holding them captive in his two-story home.
The young women have not appeared in public since Amanda Berry broke free when a neighbor heeded her cries and kicked open the front door to the house that had been a jail to the abducted women Now, smiling and appearing upbeat, Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus speak separately in a three-minute, 30-second video released on YouTube. The video was recorded on July 2 and released by the Hennes Paynter Communications public relations agency on the women’s behalf with the cooperation of their lawyers.
“They wanted to say thank you and there were three options to do that,” says Hennes Paynter. They could have allowed a reporter to speak on their behalf, taken out an ad in the paper or have a video made. The women collectively choose the video option.
The 32-year-old Knight, says she is building a brand new life. She makes a declaration as she reads from a statement, “I may have been through hell and back, but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face and my head held high,” She goes on to say, “I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation. I don’t want to be consumed by hatred.”
DeJesus, who is now 23, briefly offered thanks to the public along with her parents. Her mother, Nancy Ruiz, urges anyone with a missing child to “please count on your neighbors. Don’t be afraid to ask for their help, because help is available.” She also thanked her neighbors and others for the massive amount of support their family has received.
The 27-year-old Berry, calls on the public to “give us time to have a normal life.” She also stated that she wanted everyone to know how happy she is to be home with her family and friends. “I am getting stronger each day and having my privacy has helped immensely,” says Berry.
The story of their lives seems so unreal. It’s like something that would be seen on a movie screen. Although these women have no authority to alter their past they now have the ability to change their future and it sounds like they’ve already began to rewrite the remaining script and final acts.
Just like Berry, Knight and DeJesus, the story of each person’s life can be viewed like a screenplay written in three parts called Acts. Take a look at how these Acts unfold regardless of the number of scenes in a person’s life:
- Act One – The Set Up: Always most interesting to the story is how the lead character responds. Whether the current scene is peaceful or frantic, it’s trying to teach a lesson. Even if a person doesn’t like this particular part, there is a reason for it, and it will give birth to a new set, new characters, and a new plot before they know it. Whatever happens, pay close attention to the details, and know that there is something grand behind them. Everything that has happened has combined to bring them precisely to this moment.
- Act Two – The Obstacles: Everyone has their own life story. It is filled with relationships and events that help shape who they’ve become and what they believe to be true about the world. Depending on a person’s perspective and willingness to grow, life’s experiences can become the decorations that make up the focus of their pity party, or they can fuel a life of empowerment and continued self-development. It is the story people tell themselves about what happens that makes all the difference.
- Act Three – The Resolution: No matter who the characters are in the story or what they have done, each person on an individual basis are the only one who can give their actions the meaning they will have. People are the only ones who can define what role they will play in their own lives. By taking responsibility for their story, people are able to learn and grow, forgive and find compassion, and most importantly, move on into a more fulfilling future.
One thing is certain, no one can rewrite the past but they can flip the script for their future and change the message that each new experience brings. Let the story be proof of one’s own resilience and creativity. Be kind with the roles you give yourself and generous with the opportunities you get to learn the things you need to know. When you remember that you are the author of your own story, you are free to create a masterpiece. Seize this moment to go for it!
Currently, these young women aren’t interested in TV interviews and to have books written about their plight; perhaps their too busy rewriting their futures to focus on the past.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)