I’ve just finished reading Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed by Michelle Knight (co-written with Michelle Burford). Knight was one of the Cleveland girls who was kidnapped by Ariel Castro and imprisoned for over 10 years. Before the book was released, I hadn’t heard much about the book – or that there would even be a book. For some reason, even though I knew the subject matter would be incredibly grim, I knew I had to read it. It was like the commonly-used phrase of watching a train wreck in slow motion. It was sad, and even halfway through I thought Castro one of the most despicable people ever. Yet, throughout her years of captivity, Michelle remained positive – positive that one day she would be free, to be reunited with her son, and free of the abuse that she suffered. This is what really drew me in – her resolve to be free, the strength she had to survive the situation.
In having captured these three young women, Michelle being the first, I wondered how he had lured them away, and how could this have happened – three times!! He had children of his own, around their same ages, and all three girls knew his daughter. Michelle said at first, in the encounter that led to her capture, that she trusted him because she had been friends with his daughter, and had met him several times before the kidnapping. The day she was kidnapped, she had been on her way to meet with her son Joey. Because she missed the meeting that day, she kept Joey close in her heart. She never forgot about her son, who was 2 when she went away from him.
Throughout her time under Ariel Castro’s roof, she suffered physical, sexual and mental abuse. She suffered permanent damage to her jaw, and emerged from his home nearly 40 pounds lighter than when she was captured. When the police finally raided the home, Micelle had been recovering from some type of illness that had plagued her for weeks. She was too weak to walk out of the home, and was hospitalized for a few days after being rescued. She also recalls forced miscarriages, the violence and torment she suffered, and the slight resentment she felt when Amanda Berry gave birth to Castro’s child. That child was cared for by all three young women – and provided a beam of light for them. Castro also cherished the child, and taken the girl out in public, and oddly never raised suspicion in having a young child with him.
This story is certainly not for everyone. It’s not for the weak of heart – it is heartbreaking, especially when she reveals near the end what happened to Joey while she was away. I remember watching her being interviewed on Dr Phil, and wondering how the three girls survived such a horrific ordeal. The best revenge for Michelle was being free, away from the house finally, and away from him. She wrote the book to provide hope for those who are abused, those who have been kidnapped and survived. She mentioned the strength and grace of Jaycee Dugard, Elizabeth Smart, and Shawn Horbeck. These may be rare cases in which kidnapped children have been saved and reunited with the children. There is always hope though.
“Every person who is lost is somebody’s child. We will never know all their names, but we can still keep them in our thoughts.”