Expert: DeJesus, Berry, Knight endured psychological fear, did what they 'had to' to survive

AKRON, Ohio - The three women who were missing for a decade-plus before being rescued Monday evening likely endured a tremendous amount of psychological fear, according to one expert.

Dr. Mary Myers, associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Akron, discussed her opinion on the "victimology" of Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight -- and the connection they may have developed with their captors.

"They had to do what the person said in order to stay alive, and they had to become close to that person in order to stay alive, especially if threats were used," Myers explained.

Myers, a retired Akron police captain and former hostage negotiator, believes it's likely the three women experienced the psychological phenomenon known as Stockholm syndrome -- where hostages express empathy or sympathy toward their captors.

"The victims depend on this person. They want to please this person. They placate to this person. The suspect wants to be loved and dominate the victims," Myers said.

Stockholm syndrome is named after a 1973 bank robbery in Sweden in which victims became attached to their captors and even defended them after they were released six days later.

Cleveland police would not say during a Tuesday news conference if the women were forced into sex acts, but Myers wouldn't be surprised if that happened. Police believe Berry had a baby girl while she was in captivity. It's believed the girl is now 6-years-old.

"There's the assumption that sexual activity is going on. They didn't have the choice of who they were going to have sex with," Myers explained.

Investigators told NewsChannel5 that chains and bondage were found in the basement of the Seymour Avenue home. A credible source also said the victims were at times kept tied up with chains and tape.

Many have wondered how many opportunities the victims had over 10 years or longer to escape. But Myers theorizes threats made to harm the women kept them from trying to get away.

"To have the courage to slip away, it took a tremendous amount of courage."

Print this article Back to Top