As Ariel Castro, the 53-year-old man who kept Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight in captivity for close to a decade in Cleveland, accepts a plea deal that will send him to jail for life without parole, attention is shifting to the victims and whether they'll be able to recover from such a horrible ordeal.
For starters, legal firm Jones Day issued the following statement:
Amanda, Gina, and Michelle are relieved by today's plea. They are satisfied by this resolution to the case, and are looking forward to having these legal proceedings draw to a final close in the near future. They continue to desire their privacy. They do not wish to speak to the media or anyone else, and they thank people for continuing to respect their privacy as they grow stronger. They are immensely grateful for the support they have received from family, friends, and the donations to the Cleveland Courage Fund.
Asking for privacy is the right thing to do. According to New York Center for Neuropsychology and Forensic Behavioral Science psychologist Naftali Berrill, discussing details of the ordeal in public is especially discouraged. "The adjustment to the outside world is going to be very brutal," says Berril. "How do you undo years of abuse, years of being held captive?"
But is this even possible in our media-obsessed society? Though Castro's plea deal has been welcomed by the victims — who, as a result, won't have to testify on what would've been a highly publicized trial — they already released a YouTube video in early July to thank those who have helped them since they were freed. Was this a good call? Probably not.
Alan Hilfer, chief psychologist at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City, thinks it would be "a whole different kind of grotesquerie" if cameras don't stay away "for a good long while." "Everyone is fascinated, frightened and wants to know what happened," says Hilfer. "But after a spokesperson comes out with some statements and these kids are debriefed, one of the most important things is for the family to have time to recover on their own and establish relationships."
Here's hoping Amanda, Gina and Michelle's YouTube statement is the end and not the beginning of an insane media blitz.