For 10 years after Ariel Castro kidnapped Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight, he kept them locked up in a house in Cleveland, Ohio. Sometimes they were chained up. They were beaten, raped, and abused in countless ways in that home. Now, mercifully, the home where all the horror took place is in the process of being torn to the ground.
Castro's friends and family had been in the house over the past few days, removing personal items that were left after the police finished their investigation. Berry also went to the house and collected drawings that her 6-year-old daughter with Castro had done.
The companies who are tearing the house down are doing so free of charge, as a service to the city and to the victims. Castro signed over the deed to his house as part of his plea deal. In an incredible act of generosity, the victims, who were offered the house, refused and gave it to the city instead. They are just amazing women.
Still, one can understand why they wouldn't want the house. It stands for so much pain and suffering for them. No matter what sick fantasy Castro has about his "consensual" relationships with these women, he will serve life plus 1,000 years for all the 937 counts he pleaded guilty to.
The women were denied education, health care, and even basic needs such as food and drink, for long periods of time. They left that house with nothing except the clothing on their backs.
Some money has been raised for them, but not enough to set them up for life. Now they really will need to find their way. The fact that they refused the house, as little as it would have provided, really says so much about them.
Now the space can become a park where the neighborhood can possibly heal. For years, the girls lived there without anyone realizing. They did everything in that home. Perhaps even more than Castro being put away, the bulldozing of that house means they are free.
Who could blame them for not wanting it? It's a house full of bad memories for all of them. And now it's gone. Still, we shouldn't forget the lessons from that house. Neighbors somehow missed what was going on for far too long. Maybe a park space will build the sense of community that will stop tragedies like this from happening again.
Do you think the girls should have taken the house?
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