On the Cleveland Kidnappings

Yes. It is horrible that a man held three women and a child captive in his home for years.

Yes. It is almost unbelievable that neighbors, police, and even the captor’s family members knew nothing about this for so long.

Yes. These women and this child need our earnest prayers for the full healing of their bodies and the deep healing of their spirits.

No. The news reporter does not need to ask the police chief four times about the chains and ropes used to bind the women.

No. We do not need to know the details of what is inside that house. Of exactly what the women endured.

This is not an episode of CSI. These are the real lives of real people.

The only people who need to know the intimate details are the actual crime scene investigators, the judge and jury (God help them), and the family, friends, and therapists to whom the women turn for help (God give them strength).

Instead of watching another interview or reading another article about the crime, perhaps our time would be better spent getting to know our neighbors a little better. Listening to the stories of friends who have experienced their own traumas. Sending a card, or even taking a meal, to someone who is suffering right now. Nurturing–and giving thanks for–the children in our lives.

Yes. There is darkness and evil in the world.

No. Our lives are not enriched by wallowing in it.

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13 thoughts on “On the Cleveland Kidnappings

  1. Thank you, Joanna… more and more, lately, I’ve been turning off the news in the evenings and finding something more productive to do with my time… Too much information is too much information… I’ve got better things to do…

  2. Thank you Joanna. Our curiosity and prying into the stories about this incident helps us distance ourselves from it, from the reality of our own frailty, and from the true reality of this incident. There was indeed suffering that happened here and when we try to investigate further we liken it to television or a novel. Prayer seems a more appropriate response. Thank you for this reflection.

    • Thanks for your comment that our prying is actually a way we distance ourselves from the pain. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I think you are right.

  3. I had a newspaper/media friend tell me that it is the unfortunate axiom of the media world… bad news spreads quickly and lingers, good news needs a push and disappears quickly. More incentive I guess to participate in Gospel in our time and place!

    Thanks for this!

  4. This is worthwhile reading and needs to be said, although maybe even blogging about it feeds on the natural curiosity we have? I wish a newscaster would say this as a reminder, and then stop the coverage. The networks know that updates on the stories about sex and violence and drama and tragedy and scandal are what get eyeballs to newscasts.

    Overall, thanks very much for a good reminder.

  5. An average of 41 abductions by strangers each year means,

    349,999,959 Americans are NOT abducted by strangers each year,

    You are more likely to be struck by lighting, and

    So very many simple things you can do (snug up their car seat, serve more vegetables at home, or minimize second-hand smoke exposure) will save vastly more years of life than such kidnapping ever cause.

    There are things you can’t control. But kidnaping and airplanes crashes are truly minor risks. Things you CAN control are thousands of times more relevant and effective – diet, exercise, education, and parenting.

  6. I disagree, and don’t think it is that black and white. Shining light into the problems, or evils, in our world helps to solve them. This incident is no different than wars that go on every day all over the world. By suggesting that we should not deal with the details we also make it harder for survivors to heal from things like this, as we increase the shame they carry by our silence. If it is too horrible and shameful to talk about how are people suppose to heal?. Why should survivors carry the extra burden of the details, when they did not choose to live through these experiences? Society is quick to make horror and thriller movies for entertainment, but we have difficulty talking about what goes on in our world. Having survived something similar to this kidnapping I think it is time the world wakes up to how often these types of things happen in the world, and works to solve the violence in our culture that is creating these types of crimes.

    • Jill, thank you for sharing your perspective–especially as a survivor of violence yourself. I wonder if there is a way to be attentive to the pain and horror the women have experienced without sensationalizing and objectifying it. When the reporter asked the police chief four times about the chains and ropes used for binding, it did not feel like she was trying to shine light–it felt like she was wanting to get some juicy details for her story. It seems to me that the stories are for the women to share–or not. The media should not coopt the stories for entertainment purposes. As you say, there is already too much violence in the world.

  7. It is difficult to deal with crimes like these Joanna. However, your example brings up my frustration. Having been tortured as a sex slave for 9 years , and having people cringe judgementally at the word and unable to talk about it I feel strongly about this. Survivors/victims are left isolated with the pain and the added shame of the crime being “unspeakable”. There should be no shame in mentioning whatever weapons were used in a crime. And there is an added layer of dissociation (PTS ) due to it being unspeakable. Ultimately, it is not any different than other violence that goes on in war every day in our world.. I think people are afraid to deal with it. Also, rather than deal with what goes on in our world people for some reason try to deal with it indirectly through movies or books. If we don’t talk about it we don’t have to try to change society. If I sound frustrated, I am because I lost 9 years to the crime and 20 years to court cases, and there really is very little help for people to heal. These crimes are all too common. We need to work as a society to try to end violence in wars and the related sexual crimes.

    • Jill, I am so sorry that you experienced rape and torture for so long. Of course that is horrible and I in no way want to diminish the reality or suggest that there is any shame in being a victim of such violence. As a survivor of sexual slavery, what aspects of the media coverage of the Cleveland case do you appreciate? Is any of it hurtful?

  8. Hi Joanna, I’m a bit tired, but thought I would email back. I was a bit persistent on the previous comments as I find it all so frustrating. Just to clarify I was not raped, but violently sexually tortured for 9 years in my doctor’s (psychiatrist) office, with a variety of weapons, as well as emotionally. Other victims were assaulted in different ways. He was found guilty in one of a number of trials. In regards to coverage of these types of terrible crimes I find it hopeful and healing that they are discussed; both the actual facts of the case and the effects of things like Stockholm syndrome and post traumatic stress. The fact that people note how strong these women are helps these women and other women and men draw on that strength as they initially heal and then live with the event as part of their life experience. One negative things is people calling so often for the death penalty, as that is a controversial separate issue, and also it tends to suggest unconsciously that victims can not heal from these sorts of crimes. It is difficult to heal, and one aspect that makes it difficult is the silence and fear around these types of crimes. The effects and memories are always with us, and all we can do is try to use the strengths and lessons we receive from these experiences and also look after our wounds. The whole issue reminds me of society’s relationship to environmental problems and crimes. And as with both issues,changing our society to be less violent and destructive would certainly help. I’m overtired, but thanks for your replies.

    • Thank you so much for sharing from your experience. I will hold you in prayer and keep your input in mind when I address issues of sexual violence in the future.

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