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What’s next for Amanda Berry? Other kidnap victims offer role models, advice

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amanda berry

Time to heal: Amanda Berry (right) reunites with her sister at the hospital. (Photo via WOIO-TV)

Amanda Berry, who went missing the day before her 17th birthday, escaped this week after a decade held captive in a Cleveland row house. Her screams for help and 9-1-1 call from a neighbor’s house helped free two other women imprisoned for so many years with her, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. Her tone during that call is firm and frantic.

Berry: Help me, I’m Amanda Berry.

Dispatcher: Do you need police fire or ambulance?

Berry: I need police.

Dispatcher: OK, what’s going on there?

Berry: I’ve been kidnapped and been missing for 10 years. I am here, I’m free now.

She’s free now. It’s a shocking, unlikely, yet welcome ending to a disappearance that 10 years ago rocked the nation. After enough time passed, people presumed Berry dead. Instead, she’s back in the arms of family, reunited, and now with a 6-year-old daughter she gave birth to during her capture.

Now begins the road to healing.

Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard, both of whom were kidnapped as girls and subsequently rescued, have managed to maintain some privacy while carefully choosing paid interviews. From the limited information we have of them, both Smart and Dugard have adjusted well to a return to regular life.

Dugard, who survived a similar ordeal for 18 years before her rescue in Antioch, Calif., in 2009, says the rest of the world needs to give these women the space and time to recover.

“These individuals need the opportunity to heal and connect back into the world,” Dugard tells People magazine in a statement. “This isn’t who they are. It is only what happened to them.”

Authorities have only just begun to investigate what happened during Berry’s imprisonment, allegedly at the hands of a 52-year-old bus driver named Ariel Castro. Whatever the case, Berry’s heroics should be celebrated, Dugard says.

“The human spirit is incredibly resilient,” says Dugard, who gave birth to two of her own captor’s children. “More then ever this reaffirms we should never give up hope.”

Smart, who was kidnapped at knife-point 11 years ago and held as sex slave for nine months by a street preacher, offered her own words of hope.

“I am just so overjoyed, so happy to hear another happy ending,” she told ABC’s Good Morning America. “I think it’s just proof there are more happy endings out there, and that it just means we need to have constant vigilance, constantly keep our eyes open and our ears open, because miracles do happen and there are happy endings out there waiting to happen.”

Like Dugard, Smart cautions the world to respect the women’s privacy to allow them to find themselves after years of someone holding their sense of identity hostage.

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Elizabeth Smart reminds families of the missing to remain vigilant and hopeful.

“[The captor has] stolen so much from them already, they deserve to be happy,” Smart tells the morning news program. “I would tell them, I hope that they realize there is so much ahead of them, that they don’t need to hold on to the past, they don’t need to relive everything that’s happened,  because it’s proof, their rescue is proof there are good people out there … who want the best for them, who want them to be happy, who want good things to happen.”

h/t LA Times

Find Jennifer Wadsworth on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

jennlouisew@gmail.com (Jennifer Wadsworth)

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