Ariel Castro brought three women home a sculpture from the Rescue Mission that said Hope. They decided to keep it.

The man was notoriously cheap. He fed them a little bit of junk food from chain fast food establishments. Sometimes, he would not feed them for a week. All of the women are approximately five feet tall, and they weighed under 100 pounds while being held hostage at his home. They endured deplorable living conditions, and he kept them chained to their beds. Stultifying heat filled their rooms in the summer, and it was freezing there during the winters. He locked the doors to their rooms when he left the house. They ate, cooked food, slept and went to the bathroom in their rooms.

2207 Seymour Ave in Cleveland, OH was their prison for a decade.

August, 2002: Castro kidnaped and imprisoned 21-year-old Michelle Knight.

April, 2003: He did the same to 17-year-old Amanda Berry.

April, 2004: The same to 14-year-old Georgina DeJesus.

All three women were friends of his daughters.

Ariel Castro had a history of domestic violence. He put an ex-wife, Nilda, into the Intensive Care Unit of a local hospital. He beat her so badly that her jaw was fractured, and teeth were dislodged. He was a violent school bus driver. One day, he terrorized a four-year-old by leaving him on the bus for hours. He stalked his victims before he abducted them, then he kept them as sex slaves, raping them multiple times per day. The women were terrified of him, and they hated him; they were also paralyzed by their fear of the captor.

Michelle and Gina shared a bed in the same room, and Amanda lived in an adjacent room. At first, the women did not communicate much with each other, since Castro warned them not to. He did not want them to unite against him. However, once they spent some time together, they ended up talking. They talked about TV and their families and the fervent hope that they would once again be free. They showed support for each other by helping each other cope with the abuse. They all knew what it was like to face Castro’s wrath, brutality and carnal desires. They got through the long days by laughing with each other and attempting to find joy in the small things.

Hope: a Memoir of Survival in Cleveland by Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, 2015

Gina, Amanda and Michelle are an inspiration to us all. They survived a horrendous situation, and they have such a positive attitude, despite the horrid treatment that they endured.

Books about sexual assault

Fluff and Fuzz knitting by Amanda Berry