We were shocked yesterday with the harrowing story of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight, three Cleveland women who escaped their captives after having been missing for more than a decade. A neighbor, Charles Ramsey, heard a girl screaming and helped Amanda and a 6-year-old girl (believed to be her daughter) out before calling the police and saving the other two women. The suspects are Ariel Castro, 52, a former bus driver, and his two brothers, Pedro, 54, and Oneil, 50. And latest reports state that the women were impregnated, chained up in the basement, and beaten, which resulted in multiple miscarriages. While many of us couldn't imagine the horror these women went through being kidnapped (at 16, 14, and 21, respectively) and held captive for 10 years, there are some who can relate to this terrible experience. Two other survivors who have made it to the other side — Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart — are sending their support to these brave victims.
Jaycee Dugard, who was abducted at 11 and held captive for 18 years, gave the women encouraging words: "These individuals need the opportunity to heal and connect back into the world. This isn't who they are. It is only what happened to them. The human spirit is incredibly resilient. More then ever this reaffirms we should never give up hope."
Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped at 14 and sexually abused for nine months, said, "First of all, I'd make sure these young women know that nothing that happened to them is their fault. They still have the same worth. They're still valuable. They haven't lost any of their worth to what's happened." She added, "There is still so much more to life than what happened to them the last 10 years. They have so many years to go forward and be happy. I'd encourage them to not feel restricted."
There's still a lot of unknowns regarding the girls' horrific story that we all want to know more about, but both Jaycee and Elizabeth made it clear that these women need time away from the spotlight to heal and rebuild their lives.