After a Decade in Captivity Woman Says She Forgives Kidnapper

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( — October 20, 2014)  — Michele Knight, who was kidnapped in August 2002 at the age of 21, said she understands that Ariel Castro had a disease. In therapy she learned that what he did hadn’t been his fault, she told The Plain Dealer, a news agency in Cleveland, Ohio.

After suffering years of torture in captivity, Michele Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus broke out of the house in May 2013. Knight said she needed a year and a half to reach a breakthrough and be able to continue with her life.

“I was able to say his name, Ariel Castro,” 33 year old Knight said. “I was able to forgive him.”

Castro pled guilty to a long list of charges and in September, 2013, he ended up committing suicide in prison.

“I felt very appalled by it, but I understood,” Knight said of Castro’s prison suicide. “I don’t condone what he did.”

Knight has written a book about her trauma called “Finding Me.” Knight said that a lot of people have contacted her through a social network, saying that she is an inspiration to them.

“The situation (Castro) put me in didn’t define me,” said Knight. “I choose to live a meaningful life.”

“It’s mostly about letting go of anger, and that’s a boon for your health,” said Thomas Plante PhD, Professor at Santa Clara University and Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University.

In an article in Psychology Today, he wrote that there are 7 rules of forgiveness:

  1. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you have to forget. Abused people can learn to forgive, yet remember quite well.
  2. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re minimizing your victimization experience, not at all! You can forgive yet still admit that the victimization and trauma was very real and very bad.
  3. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you’re a chump. Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, naivete, or foolishness.
  4. Forgiveness doesn’t depend upon the other person apologizing and accepting your offer of forgiveness. You can engage in forgiveness for your own benefit, not theirs. You don’t need anything from them to forgive them.
  5. Forgiveness isn’t an all-or-none, black-or-white kind of thing. It is a process.
  6. Forgiveness is for your health and well being. It is in your best interest to forgive others for their transgressions, not necessarily theirs. You are not engaging in forgiveness to do them a favor, but to do one for yourself.
  7. Let go of the anger.