Amanda Berry, who was held captive for ten years with two other women by a man who raped and tortured all three of them, opened up recently about what the moment was like when she realized she had a chance to escape.
Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight were all kidnapped by Ariel Castro at different times and forced to live in his Cleveland home, where they all suffered unimaginable abuse. Knight reportedly took the brunt of Castro’s anger and required surgery on her face to repair the damage he had done; Berry became pregnant by him and later had the child inside the home with the help of DeJesus and Knight. One night, Castro forgot to lock the women in their rooms, and Berry saw her chance for escape.
“I didn’t know what to do, my heart immediately started pounding because I’m like, ‘is– should I chance it? … He could be here any minute, if I’m going to do it, I need to do it now,’” Berry told Robin Roberts in an interview for 20/20.
Berry bravely kicked open the front door and took her daughter–then 6 years old–outside, where she screamed for help. Her act of courage helped save the other two women, and their story has been turned into a book written by Berry, DeJesus, and two Washington Post journalists. Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland will be released on April 27.
For the women, hope was often the only thing that kept them going.
“You had to stay positive because if you didn’t, there was no reason to try and survive it,” Berry told People Magazine.
Castro was captured and imprisoned, but later committed suicide in his cell. Now, all three women continue to live with their families in Cleveland and are doing their best to move on from a decade of horrors. Last year, they were given courage awards by the governor, who said they were responsible for their own survival.
“No one rescued them, they rescued themselves; first by staying strong and by sticking together, and then by literally breaking out into freedom,” Governor Kasich said.