How Accurate Is 'Cleveland Abduction'? Lifetime's Movie Tells The Story Of One Of The Strong Survivors
The image of a beaten up white house on a Cleveland street haunts people who followed the news back in 2013 when three women, who were held captive in said home for around 10 years, exited out the screened-in porch door. Lifetime's new movie Cleveland Abduction, which is about the horrifying events, gets the details of the terror house perfectly, and the rest of Cleveland Abduction is mostly accurate, as well, based on victim Michelle Knight's experience. Ariel Castro captured three women — Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus — and forced them to live in his home while violently torturing them and sexually abusing them. His home has since been demolished, but the decade of torture these women went through will not soon be forgotten.
The Lifetime film about the events starts with the terrifying image of Knight (portrayed by Taryn Manning from Orange Is the New Black) hanging tied up from the ceiling. Right from the beginning, the film lets you know that there will be no break from the darkness that these women had to endure. The movie is based on Knight's book, Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings, and tells the story of the single mother who was first captured by Castro.
Castro (portrayed by Raymond Cruz from Breaking Bad) kidnapped Knight in 2002. The film shows that Knight knew Castor's daughter, and that he offered to drive Knight to her appointment with social services, in order to get back her son Joey. (Joey had been put in a foster home after Knight's mother's boyfriend broke Joey's leg.) Castro lured Knight to his house, saying he had puppies he wanted to show her for her son. Once she entered the second floor, he tied her up and she wouldn't leave the home again (besides going in the backyard) for 11 years.
Unlike Berry and DeJesus, the film shows that the 21-year-old Knight did not have family who kept searching for her. After 15 months, she was taken off the FBI's missing persons database and the movie shows that it was assumed she had runaway from her responsibilities of being a single mother. Castro used this information to make Knight feel like no one cared for her. The movie shows him taunting her, but also being angry about the fact that no one was searching for her. It's almost implied that he captured Berry next because Knight wasn't what he wanted.
All of the details in the film pretty much follow what news reports say — and Castro's actions are truly horrible to watch onscreen. He ties up Knight and masturbates to her, then hangs her tied up from the ceiling for days. He drags her body down the steps to his basement where he rapes her. He gets her a puppy, but when she tries to escape after he tricks her (something he commonly did so the women wouldn't try to leave the home), he snapped its neck in front of her. When she got pregnant, he punched her in the stomach so she would miscarry (an event shown once in the movie, but allegedly happened five times over the course of 11 years in real-life).
While Berry and Knight were kept in separate rooms, when Castro captured DeJesus, he chained DeJesus and Knight together and the two formed a friendship. When Berry became pregnant, Knight was forced to deliver the baby and Castro threatened to kill her if it didn't survive. The baby lived and grew up in the house until she was six-years-old, and Berry escaped by punching through the screen door. (Berry is shown in the movies as receiving slightly better treatment because of her daughter.) DeJesus and Knight were rescued from the home shortly after.
The movie shows that after the women escaped, DeJesus ended her friendship with Knight because her parents wanted her to get a fresh start. In real-life, it's true that Knight and DeJesus are no longer friends. DeJesus and Berry, on the other hand, have maintained their friendship and have written their own memoir together.
Cleveland Abduction ends with Knight giving an emotional testimony at Castro's sentence hearing, which really did happen. She was the only victim to speak out against Castro as he sat behind her.
Her real statement is longer than it is in the movie, but her bravery and strength comes across (although I suggest watching Knight's real statement to see how truly amazing this woman is). The last spoken words of the movie are the last lines of Knight's statement, "After 11 years, I'm finally being heard. And it's liberating. Thank you, all. I love you. God bless you."
Castro killed himself in his jail cell after being sentenced more than 1,000 years in prison. And while Knight, DeJesus, Berry, and Berry's daughter may be finally free of Castro and his prison home, anyone who knows their story wishes them peace in being able to move on from the hell they were put through.
Knight's son was adopted when she was held captive, so she wasn't reunited with him after she escaped. But even after all she has gone through, Knight was able to say in front of Castro, "Writing this statement gave me the strength to be a stronger woman. And I know that there is more good than evil." Despite the terrifying content of the film, Cleveland Abduction still manages to show what remarkable women Knight and her fellow captives are. The movie premieres on Lifetime on Saturday, May 2 at 8 p.m.
Images: Bob Mahoney/Lifetime (2); Getty Images (4)