Like everyone as of late, I can't get enough of the Charles Ramsey quotes. The guy is totally entertaining, and really has a distinct "down-to-earth-ness" about his new found fame as a hero. Yet, behind the awesome soundbites of Ramsey and courageous heroism that he is downplaying (another tremendous and respectable quality of humility), there is a tragic and utterly hard to bear story of the three women who were held captive for years.
After reading the autobiography of Jaycee Dugard (A Stolen Life: Raw, Truthful, and Powerful), who suffered a similar experience, I really have struggled with the "captivity" situation since. For most of us on the outside looking in, the story is horrific enough, but when you get into the mind, thoughts, and raw experiences as detailed by Dugard in her tell-all book, it leaves you heart-broken, angry, and completely unable to wrap your mind around how anyone - much less a CHILD - can endure, survive, and recover from it. The titled piece, A Stolen Life, are three words which perfectly describes any and all captivity and kidnapping stories, as well as makes you realize what truly occurred. A stolen life, indeed.
The same goes very much so in this story.
As the details emerge of what occurred in that horror house in Cleveland, you can't help but feel elated for Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight. They now have Freedom. Something we often associate with political measures and international affairs, and rarely ever within the basic human rights context. They will now get to enjoy every ounce of it to the full extent as if it were tangible. A chance to be with family and friends, and to enjoy what should have been for the past ten years.
Unfortunately, the road to recovery isn't completed. And from reading Dugard's book, you know that these women face a looooooooooooooooong road to recovery. In terms of love, trust, mental health, and even how to deal with their new freedom, there is plenty of personal growth to do, social development to happen, and countless hurdles to overcome. Dugard experienced this, which is why she started the Jaycee Dugard Foundation to help others in similar situations. Others have also stepped forward such as Ronique Laquette Smith, who wrote an amazing piece on CNN.com sharing her experience being held captive, and the recovery road after she escaped.
Honestly, I still find it very difficult to write on this issue just as I did after reading A Stolen Life. It's a situation that makes you feel so many different emotions without really and truly being able to wrap your mind around so many of the components. You're very happy for all of the family and friends involved. Yet angry that this can happen to anyone - ANYONE - in this nation. All the while fearful of hearing more stories like this. And of course, hoping it doesn't hit anywhere near home.
Of course, there is the question that drives everyone's emotion, and the one that I reaaaaallly struggle to wrap my mind around - how big of a hole in your conscience must one have to hold others in captivity, and to do so for ten years? To look them in the eye every day and do it for ten years! So inhumane...
I cannot even begin to put into words, or will even try to justify it by trying to do so, the thought process and feelings of living and experiencing the ordeal.
And finally what really shakes me to my core is the obvious question we all are afraid to confront - how many other Jaycee Dugards, Amanda Berrys, Gina Dejesus', Michelle Knights, and Ronique Laquette Smiths are out there - either still in captivity or have been rescued?
For the most part, that neighborhood in Cleveland never knew (although some glaring signs should have been followed up on by police). Ramsey said, "I never knew. I had ribs and listened to salsa music with the guy!"
To me, that's scary. Just flat out, scary.
As if our world isn't evil enough.