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May 12, 2013

KNISELY: A time I can’t fathom

Ten years.

Ten years?

Time is an elusive beast to us all. But after hearing news reports earlier this week about three Cleveland, Ohio, women who had been held captive for 10 years, I struggled to wrap my head around the time involved.

They spent the last 10 years of their lives tied up in a basement and put through horrors we will likely never know.

It leaves me just dumbfounded, uttering to myself every time I hear an update on the news, “10 years?” It makes me wonder, often in horror, how long those 10 years must have been for those three poor souls.

It’s hard to imagine any 10-year segment of my life because the years seem to stretch out so far.

My oldest niece turns 8 in June. Ten years ago, she was just a hope and dream. Now that she’s been with us almost eight years, I can’t even remember what life was like without her in it.

In a decade’s time, I graduated high school and moved on to college. I spent four years there and then got my first journalism job in Indianapolis. I moved to my first apartment on the city’s southside. My life changed drastically in those 10 long years.

Now, I’ve worked in newspapers for more than 10 years. The 10-year anniversary of my college graduation has come and gone. My 10-year high school reunion is long gone.

Making my way through junior high and high school didn’t even take 10 years. I’d have to tack on two years of college to hit that 10-year mark.

In the last decade, I’ve gained and lost friends. I’ve traveled around the states and abroad. I’ve changed residences more than I can count. I’ve changed vehicles three times. I’ve made 120 rent payments. My vision prescription changed at least six times.

Ten years?

These three women were held captive for 10 years. And not just any 10 years. They vanished separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. The women were all taken in their formible years. The years where a girl comes into her own and earns the title of woman. They spent those years in a dark corner of a stranger’s dank, dirty house.

Bound by ropes and chains, the women were kept in different rooms. They undoubtedly knew of each other’s presence in the house, likely hearing each other’s screams. They were repeatedly raped and repeatedly forced into miscarriages. They suffered through this for 10 years.

For 10 years, prosecutor Brian Murphy has told reporters, a man named Ariel Castro used them “in whatever self-gratifying, self-serving way he saw fit.”

Ten years?

We see so many horrifying headlines in today’s world that we tend to become immune to the real horror behind them. We can’t feel others’ pain because it’s too much to bear. I’ve been guilty of it just as much as anyone else. But there is something about these three women that cut through the apathy and broke my heart. Every news report I read detailing the latest developments in the case opens even further the hole in my heart for them.

The morning I put the finishing touches on this column, though, I read a report that made me smile through the tears. It talked about the day police finally entered the house to find the women. They flung themselves into the officers’ arms, it read. I can’t imagine the horror they faced, so I certainly can’t imagine the joy they felt when their rescuers finally came busting through the door. Finally, after 10 long years, it was over and they were safe.

Ten years?

Misty Knisely is managing editor of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5155 or at misty.knisely@pharostribune.com

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