I came across an article written by Frank Eltman from the Associated Press where he discusses the life experiences of Katie Beers, and the release of Buried Memories: Katie Beers’ Story, she co-wrote with Carolyn Gusoff. The novel discusses the ordeal Beers experienced as a child in a neglectful and abusive environment, her kidnapping experience of seventeen days, and her ability to reframe and transform these experiences into a positive journey she continues to live.
Eltman describes how Beers was kidnapped by a family acquaintance at the age of ten, and was chained in a “coffin-size box in a suburban New York dungeon” for over two weeks in 1993. He captures Beers as describing her kidnapping ordeal as “‘the best thing that happened'” to her, because it “allowed her to escape a life of abuse.” Beers reported that she “suffered years of neglect” from the hands of her mother, and had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by the hands of her godmother’s husband since she was a toddler.
After the ordeal, Beers was place in the foster care system, and raised in an East Hampton home with four other children. Eltman reports that Beers’ foster parents imposed structure into her life such as encouraging her to attend school regularly, and assigning her chores around the house. They also “shielded” her from the media attention with the assistance of others. James Catterson, former Suffolk County district attorney, was quoted as saying, ‘”We as a society must protect this child, or our professed love for own children is just a fraud, and our so-called compassion for each other is just a mockery.'” A powerful statement spoken for others to reflect upon.
Eltman describes Beers as playing volleyball at East Hampton High, participating in drama productions, and going to college where she earned a degree in business. Eltman continued to describe Beers achieving a positive life journey where she got married and had two children. Beers said the following about her experiences, ‘”I try not to be sad about what happened, because ultimately it made me who I am today, and I’m very satisfied and happy with my life.”‘ Beers commented, “‘I want to be able to help people who might not know where to turn. To see there is a road to recovery.”‘
From the experiences described above, it reflects the strength of the human spirit and resiliency. It provides hope that even when children are exposed to such adverse experiences, they can still grow to have a positive and healthy life journey. It also reminds us that continued funding and focus is needed for child welfare, and advocating for children’s rights. Beers was described as “falling through the cracks” of the child welfare system prior to her seventeen day ordeal.
Even though Beers was able to lead a positive and happy life journey after her ordeal of abuse, neglect, and capture, it is important to remember that traumatic experiences often become a part of a person’s spirit whether they are overcome or not. Beers explains that to this day she is “repulsed by chocolate after dinner mints” and cannot listen to Whitney Houston’s song, “I Will Always Love You,” because she associates them with her imprisonment and kidnapping. We, as a society, can help to decrease the number of children exposed to abuse and neglect each year with action. I encourage everyone to take a stand, and remember that parenting is no longer a private manner but a public one, and that children also have human rights.
Information for article was gathered from:
“Childhood kidnapping survivor Katie Beers recounts ordeal in coffin-size box,” by Frank Eltman, The Associated Press. Link for the article: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/15/16526582-childhood-kidnapping-survivor-katie-beers-recounts-ordeal-in-coffin-size-box?lite
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