Recovery Process Begins for Cleveland Survivors
Updated: Tuesday, May 7 2013, 07:19 PM EDT
COLUMBUS (Ashley Yore/Ken Hines) -- Three women freed after being held captive in Cleveland for a decade must now attempt to move on with their lives.
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight were abducted on separate occasions over a period of three years beginning in 2002. They were safely recovered Monday from the home of their alleged captor, Ariel Castro, after a neighbor heard Berry's screams and helped her escape the house.
Most details of the victims' years in captivity are not yet known, but the experiences of others who were held prisoner by criminals suggest a long, difficult struggle to establish any semblance of a normal life.
Elizabeth Smart was 14-years-old when she was kidnapped and held for 9 months while being repeatedly sexually assaulted by her captor. She appeared on "Good Morning America" Tuesday, where she was asked what advice she had for the Cleveland survivors.
“It would be to not let this man ruin another second of their lives. He's stolen so much from them already. They deserve to be happy, and I would tell them I hope that they realize that there is so much ahead of them,” Smart said.
Jaycee Dugard was just 11-years-old when she was kidnapped before spending 18 years in captivity. She still tries to understand why she didn't run.
“Something always held me back," Dugard said. "It was like I still had those handcuffs on."
Psychologist Dr. David Lowenstein said Smart and Dugard prove there is hope for Berry, DeJesus, and Knight.
“They've been able to move and have a life again."
Lowenstein said counseling, along with family love and support, will help the women during the healing process.
Smart described the women's safe return home as nothing short of a miracle.
“Their rescue is proof that there are good people out there, more good people out there than not, that want the best for them that want them to be happy, who want good things to happen."
Three women who went missing separately about a decade ago, when they were in their teens or early 20s, had been tied up but were found alive Monday in a residential area just south of downtown, and three brothers were arrested, police said.
Missing women found alive in Cleveland
Timeline of key events
Police Facing Questions
Amanda Berry's 911 call
A former FBI agent discusses the case
Women Removed from Missing Persons Registry