I dreamt last night that my coworker kidnapped me and was holding me captive in my childhood home. This is comical for many reasons, not the least of which I could totally take down this coworker in an instant if I had to. How did I escape? My parents’ neighbor Carolynne was doing some gardening and when my captor wasn’t looking, I snuck out to “give her some water”. I wrote on the plastic cup (because simply whispering it wasn’t sufficient?) “I’m being held as a captive, Call the police!” Or some such phrase.
This dream does not come out of nowhere. I just finished listening to Hope, A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland. It’s basically the horrific story written by two women who were kidnapped as teens and held captive for ten years with one other women. They were chained up, they were raped, they were beaten. Why did I listen to it? I have no idea. In fact, I don’t even know how I came to find the book existed. (I also just remembered I’ve been watching The Five on Netflix which is also about an abduction. )
I do remember hearing in the news when the women were freed in 2013 though. And by “freed” I mean one of them had the guts to escape when her young daughter realized her father (yup, think on that for a minute) had left the house and not locked them into their room as was protocol.
It’s a horrible story made worse by the fact that once their captor was brought to justice, he killed himself after a month of being in prison, rather than rot in there as he should have for the rest of his life (though perhaps the silver lining is that he’s not costing the tax-payers anything?).
I did not feel particularly connected to these women as they told their story. I simply, fortunately, cannot relate to what they went through. I couldn’t help but get emotional just the same as one described their escape. As they described how it felt to be free. As they described seeing their loved ones again.
When I was about 12 years old I was walking home from school when a family acquaintance pulled up next to me in his car and started chatting. He re-introduced himself, reminded me that he knew my parents, and asked me if I wanted a ride. I knew that I knew him. He was familiar, but I couldn’t place him. I said no thanks, and kept walking. I likely would have been fine taking a ride from Mr Family Aqaintence.
Here’s the thing, though, those two girls who were taken, chained up, raped, beaten and humiliated for ten years (one even had to give birth under those conditions) were taken by a man they knew. Their kidnapper was the father of friends of theirs. One victim was friends with the older daughter, the other with the younger. Their kidnapper even knew and chatted with one of the victim’s parents from time to time. Their kidnapper did not have full custody of his kids, and when they came to visit, he simply wouldn’t let them go upstairs because, he told them, he was a hoarder and it was a mess.
These daughters would visit their dad, who they loved, and upstairs three women and eventually, a child, were imprisoned above them.
Blended in with the story from the perspective of the women were factual accounts of the efforts made to find them. They never made any progress in finding those girls. They were taken from the streets of Cleveland, and kept right there in that same city, and no one could find them.
It was noted at the end of the book that there are 100 non-custody related kidnappings a year. That’s a lot of kids being taken from loved ones.
Needless to say I am ready to move on to a cheerier topic from my “entertainment” sources.