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Amanda Berry, left, and Gina DeJesus, missing as children, are missing no more.
In all the heartbreaking amazement of the transfixing story coming out of Cleveland, Ohio, about the three young women kidnapped for a decade and rescued, there are a couple of points made by Amy Davidson at the New Yorker that are subtle but very important.
The first is about how far it seems we've come when ordinary citizens like rescuer (and instant viral folk hero) Charles Ramsey respond to a situation of what appeared on the surface to be a case of possible domestic abuse:
One phrase in particular, from the interview, is worth dwelling on: “I figured it was a domestic-violence dispute.” In many times and places, a line like that has been offered as an excuse for walking away, not for helping a woman break down your neighbor’s door. How many women have died as a result? They didn’t yesterday.
He helped Amanda Berry break down the door and—here's another important point—participate in her own rescue, leading to the rescue of her fellow abductees, Gina De Jesus and Michelle Knight, as well:
Berry made her own 911 call at the same time as Ramsey. Her first words were, “Help me. I’m Amanda Berry.” Her name was what she wanted to get out, before telling the dispatcher, “I’ve been kidnapped and I’ve been missing for ten years, and I’m, I’m here, I’m free now…. My name is Amanda Berry, I’ve been in the news for the last ten years.”
A man who didn't look the other way when it would have been convenient to do so. A young woman who held on to her own identity and her own importance, despite years of being hidden away from the world. As Davidson says:
For Berry and the others to be rescued, in other words, two things had to happen: she had to never forget who she was, and that who she was mattered; and Ramsey needed to not care who she might be at all—to think that all that mattered was that a woman was trapped behind a door that wouldn’t open, and to walk onto the porch.
In a story full of tragedy and a lost decade for three women, there's much to find inspirational about the human spirit and its dedication to dignity.
Originally posted to Susan Gardner on Tue May 07, 2013 at 01:54 PM PDT.