I wish I could hold the Cleveland kidnap survivors and erase their pain. And protect them from anyone who asks stupid and cruel questions like, “Why didn't you escape when you had the chance?”
I've seen kidnap victims Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart struggle with similar questions.
We might not be intentionally cruel, but we don't want to admit to ourselves that terrible things could happen to us or our children. So, we blame the victims. If it's partly the women's fault, that separates “them” from “us” and we're fooled into thinking it could never happen to us.
But shame and blame are implied when we ask those questions. Why didn't they do things differently? It's so unfair and truly shows the ignorance of the interviewer.
These women lived through hell. We might never understand, but that's OK.
What the media focus on is what the victims did “wrong.” What's downplayed is how much the victims did “right” in order to survive. If they did things differently, like if they tried to escape, they'd probably be dead. Whatever horror they were forced to endure, if they “befriended” the offender or whatever, they needed to comply.
We would almost certainly do the same. Who is anyone to question their judgment or motives or actions? Victims deserve better.
Often, victims struggle with self-blame. We shouldn't add to their pain. We should surround these women with love. Don't question; just listen. We all could learn a tremendous amount from these wonderful and beautiful survivors.
Amy Geertz Kriss
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