Nearly two years ago, Castro forgot to lock them inside their rooms. While he was away, Berry grabbed their 6-year-old daughter Jocelyn, kicked through the front door and called 911. Berry, DeJesus and Michelle Knight, who was also held captive, were finally free.
“Sometimes, there are days that I just can’t believe it,” Amanda Berry, now 29, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview. “I just feel like I can’t believe that this happened to me.”
In their book, Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland written with Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, the women described their daily lives and living in constant fear.
“He was always watching us,” DeJesus, now 25, says about Castro, who eventually was sentenced to life without parole and hanged himself a month later. “Before the door opened, your heart was just beating real fast.” Berry added, “You didn’t know why he was coming up the stairs or what was going to happen.”
Still, when Castro went to work or spent the evening with friends, the women tried to do normal activities. They danced, sang and every Thursday, they would watch The Vampire Diaries on TV.
“We would watch the show and then for two hours afterward, we would talk about what’s going to happen next week,” says Berry, smiling at the memory. But then Castro would come home, says DeJesus, “He would walk up the stairs and just ruin our whole day.”
The women, who continue living in Cleveland with their families, say hope helped keep them alive.
“You had to stay positive because if you didn’t,” says Berry, “there was no reason to try and survive it.”
For excerpts from their book and more information about their lives, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday
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