Quotes in Australian media

Back when the girls in Cleveland were located, I got contacted by a whole bunch of different media people wanting to interview me. One of those was from Australia. I spoke to the reporter on the phone but never heard back from him as to what had been published, so I figured he hadn’t used my material. (That happens sometimes: not everyone who gets interviewed by a news source gets published. It’s like how if you’re researching a paper or a book you’re writing, you’re not going to use every source you come across.)

Well, I stumbled across quotes my Australian interview while looking for something else. It appears they used it after all, and just forgot to tell me about it. Here it is: The World Today: Finding missing women alive a rare occurrence.

I’m pleased that my quotes are included in the same article as Elizabeth Smart’s. I admire her very much.

This makes four continents I’ve been in the news at: North America of course, and Europe (I got interviewed by a TV station in Paris after the Cleveland girls story broke), and South America (in May 2012 I got interviewed by a TV station in Colombia) and now Australia. There remains Asia and Africa. And, I suppose, Antarctica, but what are the chances of that ever happening?

A YouTube message from Michele Knight, Amanda Berry and Georgina DeJesus

I got this from Peter Henderson’s Facebook page: the three young women rescued in Cleveland have made a YouTube statement thanking the community for their support. You get to see Georgina and Michelle’s faces for, I think, the first time since they were rescued.

Gina Michelle’s statement brought tears to my eyes: “I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face and with my head held high and my feet firmly on the ground. And I will not let my situation define who I am. I will define the situation.”

State money to help the Cleveland girls

State Rep. John Barnes Jr. (D) is sponsoring the Survivors of Abduction Act, which would provide Amanda, Gina and Michelle a minimum of $25k for each year they were held captive, plus tuition and other expenses for any public college, assuming they complete their education and decide to go. (I’m not sure if Amanda’s daughter is included in this deal.)

In contemplating the case that shocked his city, Barnes said he knew nothing policymakers did could bring back the decade or more of everyday activities Berry, DeJesus and Knight missed through their ordeal: going to the beauty shop, taking a walk, attending prom, throwing a snowball.

He settled on offering them education, health care and an annual stipend from one of the crime victims’ reparations funds overseen by Attorney General Mike DeWine. Under the bill, those payments would continue for at least as many years as the abduction survivor was held in captivity.

I think it’s an excellent idea. Most people in the comments section of the article think so too. Some of them, however, are saying taxpayers should not foot the bill for this, and that the girls should just get private donations and Ariel Castro’s assets to pay for their treatment and recovery. But let’s face it, Ariel Castro isn’t worth much, and while the amount of money raised privately thus far has been considerable, it’s not nearly enough to pay for the long-term (possibly lifelong) treatment these women will need, especially considering it has to be split four ways. Other people are saying there’s no point in paying for their treatment because they are basically lost causes and will never become productive members of society.

The idea that the girls will never become productive members of society is simply incorrect. Plenty of people who have gone through experiences like that have gone on to get an education, work, raise families and live reasonably happy lives. Elizabeth Smart is the most prominent example. That young woman is amazingly well-adjusted. Shawn Hornbeck has taken some college classes, then went on leave to take a full-time job, and plans to return to get a degree in criminal justice. Alicia Kozakiewicz, who was held in a dungeon and tortured on a live video feed for several days, is in college now. Midsi Sanchez (kidnapped by at age eight and held for three days before she escaped) struggled in adolescence and did not complete high school, but she is working and has custody of her child. I think Sabine Dardenne and Natascha Kampusch both have jobs.

Obviously their recovery will be long and it will not be easy. But even if it should turn out that these women are too traumatized to work, they can still be productive members of society. People who are classified as disabled can still contribute to the world in other ways. In my opinion, helping to pay for the girls’ recovery out of the public purse will wind up saving money in the long run.

Furthermore — I don’t know about Ohio, but in a lot of states, victims of violent crime are already entitled to restitution from a crime victims fund. The money from the fund (each state has their own, I think) comes from various sources. I know that in Virginia (the only state where I have personal experience in this matter), some of it comes from the criminals themselves; that is, part of their sentence is that they have to donate money to the fund. Some of it comes from private donations. But — I’m not sure but this seems like a good guess — I bet a lot of it comes from the state.

When I was attacked in Virginia, I received information to the affect that I could apply for restitution for all sorts of expenses that might occur as a result of the crime. I did wind up applying for some reimbursement, but not as much as I was entitled to. I only asked that they cover the lab fees for my STD testing, because I was working a horrible minimum wage job and it was something like $400 and not covered by my insurance. The crime victims fund sent the money directly to the medical lab.

I could have applied for a lot more, even for gas money going to and from medical appointments, or the cost of the clothes I was wearing that night which the police took away and never gave back. But that just seemed insignificant. I already had regular counseling appointments, so I didn’t really spend anything more on gas, and I took medication already and would have kept taking it whether I had been attacked or not, and they didn’t have to raise the dose or put me on a new medicine. My clothing — jeans and a shirt from Wal-Mart — was worth like $15 or $20 at most, and I have too many clothes anyway. I could also have applied to be reimbursed the wages I lost from missing a week of work when I had that post-traumatic stress reaction and had to spend a week recovering under careful observation. But I didn’t apply for that either.

As to whether Virginia is representative of the country as a whole, I don’t know. But I think their crime victims fund was very impressive in its offerings. I hope Ohio has something similar. And I hope Rep. Barnes’s bill comes through. If we can spend billions bombing foreign countries, we can spare a little for the unfortunate people in our own country. Especially as it’s looking like (as in the Dugard case), the police dropped the ball with this and the girls might have been rescued a lot sooner than they were.

Naturally, money’s being raised by the public for the benefit of the rescued Cleveland girls

As per this article, the fund is up to almost $500,000 now. But that’s not much when you consider it will be split four ways (Amanda, Michelle, Gina and Amanda’s daughter), which is just $125,000 each. And Michelle and Gina, at least, apparently have serious physical problems stemming from the beatings, starvation etc. during their captivity that will require long-term medical care. Not to mention the serious, long-term psychological/psychiatric care all four of them will need.

No doubt, however, more money will be coming in from well-wishers. If any of the girls decide to go on the lecture tour or write a book or something, it would be well-received. The state crime victims’ fund will have to cover at least some of the damages, and they may get even more money due from the state; Jaycee Dugard got twenty million and deserved every penny.

Michelle Knight stonewalling her family

According to articles I’ve read, Ariel Castro’s first victim Michelle Knight has been refusing to see her family. I can’t pretend to comprehend what they’re all going through but it’s apparent that there were serious problems in her family from way back, maybe as far as the beginning of her life. This article says:

Michelle’s mother flew from Florida to Ohio once she heard the news, but Michelle’s refused to see her — her mom has consequently hired an attorney to gain access to her daughter.

Um, hired an attorney? How’s she going to work that out? Michelle is a grown woman, and she may be mentally traumatized but she isn’t mentally incompetent. I don’t see how she could be legally forced to have contact with anyone she doesn’t want to see. I wonder how much the mother is paying that attorney.

So, Michelle and Gina DeJesus are quite close and they’re thinking that maybe the DeJesus family could adopt Michelle. I don’t see how that could work out either, legally speaking, on account of Michelle being 32, but certainly if all parties agree they could accept Michelle into that family anyhow. Amanda and Gina are very fortunate in that they came from loving, supportive families; Michelle really seems to have drawn the short straw in all of this.

The aforementioned link sums it up pretty well:

The last thing anyone wants is for Michelle to return to a home in which she doesn’t feel safe. She, Amanda, and Gina have an incredibly arduous path to recovery ahead of them and require all the love and support they can get. And if the Knights cannot provide that for Michelle, or if she doesn’t (understandably) want anything to do with them, it sounds like the DeJesus family is more than willing to take her in.

The DeJesuses might be the godsend Michelle has been praying for her entire life.

I hope she gets SOME kind of godsend. She needs something.

House of horrors in Cleveland

According to this article, anonymous police sources have said there were multiple pregnancies between the three girls, many miscarriages and five live births. Yet there is only one child…

This makes me sick. Literally, I felt nauseated when I found that out, and I’m rarely moved in that way even by the most violent of crimes. I’m hoping to God that’s either just a rumor or there were more kids running around the house that we just haven’t been told about yet.

Well, this just blows me out of the water

I woke up a little before 2:00 a.m. (as I’ve tended to do lately) and shuffled out to the hallway, thinking I’d have a quick look at my email and settle down with my latest book. But I think it’ll be awhile now. Not only am I too agitated to read, but there are a ton of articles I’ve got to look at. As half the entire world has emailed me to say, they’ve found Georgina DeJesus and Amanda Berry alive! Along with a woman named Michelle Knight, whom I hadn’t heard of. They’re all okay, more or less, and Amanda has a kid.

Amanda disappeared from Cleveland, Ohio in 2003, on the way home from work. She was sixteen. Georgina was fourteen when she disappeared from Cleveland in 2004, on the way home from school. The cops had figured the cases were connected somehow and maybe the girls had been forced into prostitution or something. But word has it that they’ve been locked up in a basement dungeon all this time. Amanda managed to escape the dungeon and started screaming and trying to get out of the house, and a neighbor heard and helped her out, not knowing who she was, and she called 911.

The guy who lives in the house, Ariel Castro, has been arrested.

This case bears obvious comparisons to Jaycee Dugard and the Joseph Fritzl case out of Austria. And Marc Dutroux in Belgium. And Gary Heidnik in Pennsylvania.

Amanda, Gina, Michele…welcome home. We’re glad to have you back.

*starts playing “Accidentally in Love” by Counting Crows, the happiest song she knows*

Seven years ago today

As this article notes, it was seven years ago this day that 14-year-old Georgina DeJesus disappeared while walking home from school in Cleveland, Ohio. It seems to be a probable non-family abduction. There’s a chance that Gina may be still alive, as the police think she might have been forced into prostitution. Teen girls Amanda Berry and Ashley Summers also disappeared from Cleveland (Amanda in 2003, Ashley in 2007) and, last I heard, the cops thought the disappearances could be linked.

I know Gina was a special ed student and barely literate, but I’m not sure how far her level of disability went — whether she had poor intellectual functioning in general, or whether she had a normal IQ and just severe dyslexia, or what. I suppose she can’t have been too badly off, intellectually, since she walked to and from school by herself. Her casefile has a sketch of a possible suspect.

Missing girls in Cleveland

A short awhile ago, the FBI profiled the disappearance of Ashley Summers on its website. I wondered why they had done so, since she was listed as a runaway. Now I know: according to this article, the police think Ashley’s disappearance may be linked with Amanda Berry and Georgina DeJesus. Amanda and Georgina are also profiled on the FBI kidnappings page.

All three girls disappeared from the same vicinity in Cleveland. They were all in their teens; Ashley and Georgina were 14, and Amanda was almost 17. Right now the cops are thinking one or more of the girls might have been forced into prostitution. I guess that’s slightly less horrible than the alternative that a serial killer is operating in Cleveland.

Or perhaps the disappearances are unrelated. Perhaps Ashley (who definitely did run away, though what happened to her afterwards is anyone’s guess) is hiding out somewhere and simply doesn’t want to get in touch with her family and friends. I certainly hope so. I don’t have a lot of optimism for the other two, though.