(NEW YORK) — Cleveland kidnapping survivors Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus talked publicly for the first time about moving on after their escape from the Cleveland home where Ariel Castro held them captive for years, and whether or not they can find forgiveness.
“I thought about that a lot, and I’m like, ‘Should I forgive him?’ …and in the situation I feel like, no, I could never forgive him,” Berry told ABC News’ Robin Roberts in an exclusive interview that will air Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET.
“Taking 10 years of my life…not being able to see how my family was,” Berry said. “I don’t think I will ever forgive him.”
Berry and DeJesus, along with fellow kidnapping victim Michelle Knight, escaped from Castro’s home in May 2013. The three women were abducted between 2002 and 2004, when they were in their teens and early 20s, and confined for over a decade. Castro had a child with Berry, who gave birth to their daughter during her captivity.
While Berry was a prisoner in Castro’s home, her mother, who spent years searching for her and even went on the Montel Williams Show to plead for her safe return, died of a heart attack. Losing her mother is another thing Berry said she will never forgive Castro for.
“He took my mom from me. I’ll never see her again. I’ll never get to hug her again,” Berry said.
But DeJesus said she feels differently. She said she has forgiven Castro for what he did.
“I think that you have to forgive in order to move on with your life,” she said.
Castro, 53, pleaded guilty in July 2013 to 937 charges relating to kidnapping, torturing and imprisoning the three women. On Sept. 3, 2013, he was found dead in his prison cell after committing suicide by hanging.
When DeJesus first heard the news that Castro had committed suicide, she said she felt he “took the easy way out.”
“I wish he wouldn’t [have] killed himself because I wanted him to suffer,” DeJesus added.
A few days after Castro was sentenced, a demolition crew destroyed the house on Seymour Avenue. It took less than an hour for the structure to come down. Berry said she cried tears of happiness when the house where she had been held prisoner for 10 years was gone.
“Everything bad that happened in that house, and now it’s gone, like maybe it kind of took something away, some of the pain,” she said. “We would never go there again.”
Bonded forever by their experience, Berry and DeJesus said they have remained good friends. They talk about how they are rebuilding their lives now in their upcoming memoir, Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland, released on April 27.
“We’re the only ones that really know what we went through,” Berry said.
“It’s the trust and, I think, it’s the goodness,” DeJesus added.
Since their escape, the young women rarely appear in public, but say they have been relishing their freedom and are moving on. DeJesus is now in school and got her driver’s license. Berry has been caring for her daughter and also hopes to finish school.
“I can walk outside when I want. I can take my daughter to school. I can go to my friend’s house. I can eat what I want, I can watch what I want,” Berry said, laughing. “We just have a bright future, and [will] see what comes.”
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