It has been nearly two years since Amanda Berry broke through the boarded front door at 2207 Seymour Ave. where Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were held captive, ending a decade the three had spent in chains enduring sexual torture at the hands of Ariel Castro. Knight’s memoir of their experiences came out last May; now the other two women are ready to share their story.
“Our story is not just about chains, lies and misery. That was Ariel Castro’s world. Our story is about overcoming all that,” they say in their book, Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland, written with Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, which goes on sale April 28.
Each woman tells the story of her abduction by Castro and how he psychologically, emotionally and sexually abused them.
“For years we could see on TV that our families were looking for and praying for us. They never gave up, and that gave us strength,” they write. “We videotaped news coverage of them holding vigils and replayed those tapes on our most desperate days.”
Their days seemed never-ending. They lived in fear, chained to beds with little food and occasional access to the bathroom, but still, the women managed to celebrate birthdays, holidays and even the birth of Berry’s child, Jocelyn, now 8.
After the women and Berry’s daughter escaped on May 6, 2013, Castro was quickly arrested and charged with life in prison plus 1,000 years for his guilty plea to 937 counts including kidnapping and rape. He committed suicide a month later.
Since then, the women have attempted to rebuild their lives. Most recently, Berry and DeJesus were given a tour of the White House where they met the president and vice president.
They have parted ways with their fellow captor Michelle Knight because, Knight told PEOPLE last year, they’re all healing, but there’s no bad blood. “I love them and they love me. Hopefully we’ll all get back together again.”
For now, Berry and DeJesus want the world to know they’re better. “We survived, we are free, we love life. We were stronger than Ariel Castro.”