Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight received Ohio Governor John Kasich's annual courage awards during a ceremony on Monday night. The three women survived at least a decade of captivity at the hands of Ariel Castro, who kidnapped the three at separate times.
Governor Kasich called the story of these three women one of "hurt beyond imagination." He also said it wasn't a story that ended with their kidnapping and abuse.
"It is also a story of three women who found an inner strength and a courage that brought them through and sustained them," Kasich said near the end of his annual State of the State speech. "No one rescued them, they rescued themselves_first by staying strong and by sticking together, and then by literally breaking out into freedom."
The three women were finally rescued when Amanda Berry pushed her way through a door and screamed for help. She and her 6-year-old daughter were helped to freedom by a neighbor who heard her screams.
Amanda Berry was just 16 years old when she was kidnapped. Her 6-year-old is the biological daughter of Ariel Castro. He kept all three women chained in separate rooms, often without access to food or a toilet. He pleaded guilty in August 2013 to hundreds of charges. He told a judge at his sentencing that he suffered from addictions to both sex and pornography.
"I'm not a monster. I'm sick," he said.
In September of 2103, Ariel Castro hanged himself in his prison cell after he was sentenced to life in prison, plus 1,000 years.
Governor Kasich hugged all three women Monday night before entering the hall to give his speech. As he announced the awards he called Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight "three extraordinary women, who despite having the worst in this world thrown at them, rose above it and emerged not as victims, but as victors."
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