Earlier this week, Ariel Castro, 52, was charged with kidnapping and raping three women in Cleveland, Ohio. It was alleged that after meeting the women, he abducted them and chained them up in his home for almost a decade. Fortunately, the women, Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, as well as Amanda’s 6-year-old daughter, survived the horrific ordeal and are recovering safely.
This morning, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office confirmed that DNA testing proved that the girl was fathered by Castro.
The little girl, who was born in captivity at Castro’s home, will face a world of change now that she and her mom are free. According to Terri Weaver, a professor of psychology at St. Louis University, the little girl’s alleged abusive world at Castro’s was all she knew — to her, it was normal.
“When they’re [children] exposed to fear and threats and exploitation of a parent, that has significant psychological impact on the child’s development and the child’s sense of safety,” Weaver told NBC News.
Weaver said that while what the little girl has experienced was extreme and traumatic, it may be overcome. “These aren’t insurmountable obstacle by any means, but they are things that need to be dealt with and addressed, not in a single point of time, but as the child grows up and kind of encounters the world,” she said.
Weaver went on to explain that now that she is free from captivity and the way of life Castro had her endure, the girl — and her fellow survivors — need to learn to feel safe and protected. She said after that, the adults she trusts will have to help the child understand what happened and answer all of her questions.
“We have effective treatments now for kids. There is a great deal of reason to believe they [victims] can live happy, productive, and successful lives,” said Weaver.