Katie Beers On Cleveland Kidnapping Victims: ‘I Cannot Even Fathom’

CBS New York
May 7, 2013
Katie Beers On Cleveland Kidnapping Victims: ‘I Cannot Even Fathom’

Featuring: Dr. Tina Walch, Director, Ambulatory Services, Zucker Hillside Hospital

When three women were found alive in Cleveland a decade after disappearing, Long Island kidnapping victim Katie Beers said she was flooded with a rush of buried memories.

Beers told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera she was thrilled that the women — Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight – were safe.

“It’s phenomenal. I am so ecstatic that these women have been found alive. I just hope that psychologically and physically that they’re well, and that if they’re not, that they’ll be able to get there,” Beers said.

She said their ordeal was likely even worse than her own horrifying experience.

“I cannot even fathom. I mean, my abduction was 17 days long. It was hell. I was being held by somebody I had known my whole life,” Beers told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan. “These girls, we don’t know anything about the man that abducted them.”

It took Beers 20 years to go public about her ordeal.

“Personally, what my foster parents did for me was they kept me secluded and kept me out of the public eye for so long, and that gave me the ability to recover,” Beers said.

Beers was only 9 years old when dysfunctional family friend John Esposito abducted her, chained her in a basement bunker, and repeatedly raped her. She spoke about it in January.

“I remember asking John how I would have children, and he told me I would have children with him, and I begged him no,” Beers told McLogan in January.

She said the most difficult part in the road ahead for the Cleveland victims will be trusting others, in their search to feel safe and supported.

“I don’t know if they had television. I don’t know if they had exposure to other people; if they were mistreated throughout the whole time,” said psychiatrist Dr. Tina Walch of the Zucker Hillside Hospital, a psychiatric facility. “We do know one had a child. Was that process in the hospital; was it at home? “

Walch said other kidnapping victims who did not flee, such as Patty Hearst, Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart, suffered under the spell of their captors – the Stockholm Syndrome.

“Initially, I would assume they were scared, frightened, traumatized by the event, but as days, months and years go on, it becomes a normalizing situation, they have had to adapt to,” Walch said.

Psychiatrists and Beers said re-entering a world left behind may create anxiety, and even shame and guilt. The Cleveland victims will need therapy and privacy to recover, they said.

Time Magazine
May 8, 2013
The Mind of the Kidnap Victim: How They Endure and Recover

Featuring: Dr. Tina Walch, Director, Ambulatory Services, Zucker Hillside Hospital

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