Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight--the women who were rescued last year from Ariel Castro's home after more than ten years in captivity--were given courage awards by Ohio Governor John Kasich on Monday night, and also received a standing ovation that lasted two minutes.
The women suffered unspeakable pain and suffering at the hands of Castro, who kidnapped them at different times over the years and threatened them with violence if they tried to leave. Michelle Knight, who was held the longest, reportedly suffered repeated rapes and five miscarriages after Castro starved her and beat her in the stomach. Berry delivered a child during her time in the home, a little girl who was confirmed to be Castro's daughter. The women were saved after Berry got up the courage to push through a door and run out of the house while Castro was away; neighbor Charles Ramsey said he was the first person to see Berry as she escaped.
“I’m eating my McDonald’s; I come outside; I see this girl going nuts,” he said. “I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway!”
Ramsey and others in the neighborhood said they had no idea of the horrors that went on inside the house, and had even barbecued with Castro and his family over the years, all while the three women were hidden inside.
"No one rescued them, they rescued themselves-first by staying strong and by sticking together, and then by literally breaking out into freedom," said Kasich on Monday.
Castro hanged himself in his jail cell last September after receiving a life sentence for his crimes. All three of his captives have recovered and are doing well.
Image via YouTube