Don't Feel Too Soothed by Kidnap Victims' Video
Meghan Daum: Happy messages can't wash away how their community failed them
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2013 12:32 PM CDT
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.   (AP Photo/Hennes Paynter Communications)

(Newser) – Chances are you've come across the video from the Cleveland kidnap victims this week in which the three women vow not to be defined by that horror. Good for them, because "these women deserve the happiest endings they can possibly find," writes Meghan Daum in the Los Angeles Times. But one aspect of the video troubles her—all the "saccharine" comments from people of the keep-your-chin-up variety. "The prevailing sentiment is all's well that end's well," and it runs the risk of allowing us to forget how "appalling" this story was in so many ways.

The sappy messages "let society—neighborhood, government, law enforcement, even families—off the hook for allowing, perhaps even enabling, the conditions that led to the horror," writes Daum. Consider, for example, that Michelle Knight had such a troubled background that police wrote her off as a runaway. The messages "say, essentially, that broken communities don't matter as long as their victims frame their stories so we feel soothed, so we aren't burdened with the hard work of confronting what went wrong and fixing it." It's not the victims' job to give us happy endings; it's our job to create functioning communities. "And that shouldn't require miracles, just common decency." Click for Daum's full column.

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Showing 3 of 5 comments
crankydude
Jul 13, 2013 6:43 PM CDT
Why should these women ever do an interview! They are not entertainers or politicians who chose to be public figures. And I do not know about counseling. I think the social science of psychology and talk therapy have the worst track record of any widely embraced remedial human activity. I think that is where all the sappy advice comes from. The sappy advice denies the reality of their feelings and the need to feel awful for a while as a process that helps persons get it out of their system. Suppressing anger and wearing broad affected smiles is not natural and not beneficial
justreading1
Jul 12, 2013 7:38 AM CDT
When this whole story was uncovered, it is and was awful. This is going to take a lot of time, and counseling for these women and child to be able to function within society again. It will take a tremoundous amount of patience for their families and friends to allow these ladies to re-acclimate to society. But they will do so when they feel ready to take the next step. To Skillepie below, this interview at this time is all they could handle. I believe these ladies have the inititiave to move forward.
Skittlepie
Jul 11, 2013 6:39 PM CDT
I was thinking this is all they can handle right now. They had turned down several sit-down interiews. I am sure they are not ready for questions about what had happened while in that house. It wasnt put out there with the intention of making everyone think "alls well ends well"..... its clearly not and they know that. They were held captive for 10 years with a mad man. They had to in some way remain hopeful during their capture and that helped them get through the torture. It has only been one month or so since they were free. It will take them some time to reconnect with society, being free and process what has happened to them.