Held Captive No More: Journey to Freedom

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“These individuals need the opportunity to heal and connect back into the world. This isn’t who they are. It is only what happened to them. The human spirit is incredibly resilient. More than ever this reaffirms we should never give up hope.” ~Jaycee Dugard

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The above statement was issued by Jaycee Dugard regarding the heart-wrenching story of  the release of  three Ohio women who were kidnapped as teens and held in captivity for nearly 10 years.

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‘Can I help?’ Neighbor Charles Ramsey tells of role in discovery of missing women

This girl is kicking the door and screaming,” Ramsey told NBC station WKYC-TV. “So I go over there … and I say, ‘Can I help? What’s going on?’ And she says, ‘I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been in this house a long time. I want to leave right now.'”

Ramsey, who lived across the street and let the woman use his phone to call 911, described being stunned when he realized that the woman was Amanda Berry, who had been missing for 10 years.

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Amanda Berry (right), her sister Beth Serrano and Amanda’s daughter Source


Have you seen this story?  Have you seen the pictures of the three precious young ladies and 6-yr old now being reunited with their friends and family after 10 agonizing years of being held in captivity?  Right now the story is that one brother, age 52, held them captive in his home, but two other brothers are involved and were also arrested.  One of the victims, Amanda Berry,  had a child  during captivity.   This child is now 6-years old.  We all know what that means.  This story is similar to Jaycee Dugard who was held as a prisoner by her captors for 18 years.   She, too, bore children during that long ordeal.  Try to wrap your head around that – even just for a second or two  ::::inhale and exhale:::::   This is painful stuff here.

I was moved by Jaycee’s statement – from someone who has walked in their shoes.  I hope Jaycee has an opportunity to meet these three young ladies.  I think they would have a lot in common and could offer support and understanding in a way very few could.

And then I thought of some of us who were held spiritually and emotionally captive.  Some are still being held captive, whether it is being held in a particular church, or even in a relationship.  Some of you reading may be wondering if your church/pastor is really that bad.  Some of you are currently held captive in emotional/spiritual relationships and haven’t been able to escape.  I know because I have received some of your e-mails.  My heart aches for you.  You know the truth just as these three young ladies knew the truth.  Look at these powerful words of truth:

“Help me, I am Amanda Berry,” the young woman told police in a frantic 911 call from a neighbor’s house. “I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for 10 years. And I’m here, I’m free now.”

“I’m here, I’m free now.”   Wow.  Did Amanda wonder if she would ever be able to say those words?  She knew of her dark reality and in one pivotal moment, she knew FREEDOM.  They are calling Amanda the hero.  What was in her that made her bold enough to cry out for help at that moment?  Was it her child that compelled her to risk all?

Some people may think I’m crazy to try to compare some of our spiritual abuse stories to this horrific story.  I don’t think so.  Mental health experts claim that emotional or spiritual abuse is every bit as much abusive as physical or sexual abuse.

These young ladies knew from the moment they were kidnapped that they were being held against their will.  We probably did not.  They most likely were trying to escape or looking for avenues of escape from the very beginning of their capture.  Eventually they must have realized it was too dangerous to try.  It will be interesting to read what exactly happened yesterday.   Did Amanda simply say “enough is enough?”    What made her cry out for help yesterday?  Many of us have stories like this to tell.  When did we say “enough is enough?”  Do you remember what happened?  What was pivotal in your life that made you escape?

Some of us were not aware that our lives were captured  – that we had allowed a church leader to control our emotional, spiritual, and sometimes physical lives.  Because we didn’t understand we had turned over that control, we didn’t know we needed to escape.  It took a while for us to come to that conclusion.

I always try to keep tucked in the back of my mind that some people reading here may be at any stage in their spiritual abuse journey.   Some may be wondering if what they are experiencing or have experienced is/was in fact spiritual abuse.   Others have clearly identified it.  Some are deciding whether or not they are going to escape.  Some have escaped.  Others are trying to make sense of the aftermath and connect back to the world (or reality) as Jaycee Dugard described.

 To all of you (us) who have experienced any kind of captivity of the body, soul, spirit – – whether you are currently being held captive in some way or have moved on,  I have some words for you.  Actually, I’m preaching to the choir in a big way today.  These are words for you and me (because trust me, I’m in this boat with a lot of you):

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The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives

and recovering of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty those who are oppressed . . . (Luke 4:18)


Thus says God, the Lord,

who created the heavens and stretched them out,

who spread out the earth and what comes from it,

who gives breath to the people on it

and spirit to those who walk in it:

6 “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;

I will take you by the hand and keep you;

I will give you as a covenant for the people,

a light for the nations,

7 to open the eyes that are blind,

to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,

from the prison those who sit in darkness.

8 I am the Lord; that is my name;

my glory I give to no other,

nor my praise to carved idols.

9 Behold, the former things have come to pass,

and new things I now declare;

before they spring forth

I tell you of them.”  (Is 42:5-9)

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15 comments on “Held Captive No More: Journey to Freedom

  1. Great post. Slavery is common in SE Asia, and I’m still half-torn up from being around it all. This is such a sad story.


  2. Julie Anne, every time I read that passage in Luke I get a lump in my throat. Captives free, what a blessed thought. And that God does this for us because he is concerned for his own glory, as Isaiah explained. Our freedom is tied up in God;s glory? Again, oh blessed thought!



  3. Julie Anne:

    So many woman are being held captive in “religious” circles. They need to be freed.


  4. Tim – I was just talking with a friend struggling with the aftermath of spiritual abuse – the residual effects just keep popping up again and again. Sometimes it seems hopeless and we wonder “why, God, did I have to go through this?” The truth that I need to keep reminding myself and I hope that I can convey here on this blog is that God didn’t want us to go through this mess in the first place and wants us to be free, too. I was so encouraged reading your thoughts that I texted them to my friend. Thank you, Tim.


  5. Julie Anne,

    You have exceeded yourself in reaching out to everyone that comes to this site to go beyond in what transpired with these 3 girls and the child, to know and to understand that what happened to them is no different than what others are experiencing in being held hostage by those who abuse. Along with this, you have also provided hope, encouragement, and support to those who are processing their own abuse to become aware that their is freedom when we are set free from our captors and no longer held hostage in our minds, spirit, or body to them.

    Does this take away or minimizes the horror of these 3 girls. We would be in great error, if anyone thought this to be so. What it ought to do and what your article brought out is that even in the midst of some thinking that a person is not being abused, they are among the invisible who have been kept hidden and silenced by their abuser, and the abuse and trauma being experience and relived over and over again is no less damaging than what was inflicted upon these 3 girls.

    Excellent article, Julie Anne


  6. uriahisaliveandwell: Your compliment means a lot to me especially knowing your background and knowledge of abuse systems. Thank you so much.

    Joel – I have seen that article. Thank you for mentioning it here. I have so much respect for Elizabeth and how she has taken her very tragic situation and used it to educate and advocate for others. I tell you, people who have been abused are sometimes the loudest bullhorns and have the most generous hearts for helping others. I have been truly amazed at the quality of people I have come across since blogging on abuse issues.


  7. This was a great article. We all are captives in one way or another, whether physically, mentally, emotionally,or spiritually….and all on a continual journey of freedom and transformation.


  8. Been thinking about Shawshank Redemption. To me, Red is really the central character, not Andy. His was living a pretty good life as a prisoner, but things turned dark when he faced a difficult journey to freedom from captivity. Once he was out in the world, he was nobody, and had to deal with things inside of him that he did not have to as a prisoner. But eventually hope over despair prevailed.

    Love this parole hearing scene where for the first time before the prison establishment, he asserts his own terms of redemption, not the institution’s. This was his first step in the long difficult journey to freedom.


  9. @ David-

    That’s actually a pretty decent analogy. (Shawshank Redemption is a fantastic movie btw, I should watch it again soon). These young women have been in captivity for a long time. Jaycee Dugard is right. What happened to them is not who they are, it is what happened to them. Sadly, events like this do factor into shaping people.

    I do not know what faith these women have, but I hope and pray that if they don’t know Christ, that they do turn to him as ultimate healer, and that they also seek the help of a professional counselor that can help them to acclomate back into regular society and how to process their grief and hurt.

    I hope that once they process their feelings, grief, and hurt, that they come away stronger and better. I hope that they never have to deal with another situation like this again. I hope that they have peace and comfort.


  10. It not only doesn’t negate what he did, but falls into the category of “who cares?”. Completely irrelevant, except to show that people with a criminal record are also people who can do the right thing. I wonder how many of us without a record would have done what he did so well.


  11. I agree, Tim. I’m baffled that someone would take it upon themselves to do a background check on him at all – – and especially now. Bad timing. I find that to be very weird voyeuristic behavior. This could be a pivotal event in his life. I hope it is. He truly did something heroic. I can’t get those 3 ladies out of my mind.


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