A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

The Cleveland Kidnapping Case: Another Domestic Abuser in Plain Sight

Following the recovery of the three women in Cleveland who were kidnapped and held captive for 10 years, I was reading the media reports about Ariel Castro’s background. What especially piqued my interest was the mention of a “domestic violence arrest” back in 1993.

According to the first article I read, this arrest did not lead to a conviction.  But as we here on this blog know well, it was amazing that he was even  arrested in the first place. Which means that all of the neighbors who  acted shocked and said that Ariel Castro was “a nice guy”, or that there was “nothing strange” about him, were likely clueless about what had  happened to his first wife.

So the truth did not lie with the clueless friends and neighbors. The truth lay with his wife.

Here is a quote from this article [Internet Archive link]:

Court records indicate Ariel Castro fought with his former wife, Grimilda Figueroa, over the custody of their children. Figueroa twice suffered a broken nose, as well as broken ribs, a knocked-out tooth, a blood clot on the brain and two dislocated shoulders, according to a 2005 filing in Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court [Internet Archive link]. In the filing, her attorney requested that a judge “keep [Castro] from threatening to kill [Figueroa].

Here is a quote from Ariel Castro’s son, taken from this article [Internet Archive link]:

Anthony said neither he nor his three sisters have had much of a relationship with Ariel Castro.

‘Having that relationship with my dad all these years when we lived in a house where there was domestic violence and I was beaten as well… we never were really close because of that and it was also something we never really talked about,’ he said.

Grimilda Figueroa is dead, but there is plenty of evidence for us to put together the profile of this alleged kidnapper and rapist.

It would appear that here is an Abuser who discovered that instead of just abusing his wife and children (and thus having to work hard to conceal his deeds from outsiders), he could simply kidnap some girls, tie them up in his house forever, and let loose his evil desires for power and control to his heart’s content.

He is a typical domestic abuser who was bold enough to try kidnapping.  Once he was successful the first time, the rest was history.

Perhaps that should cause all of us to take allegations of spousal abuse more seriously. Domestic abuse is not some small matter that has no  repercussions outside of the family – it is an evil mentality that is  contained within the home. But it can and does get out.  Extended members of Castro’s family are reporting that they hung out with him, ate meals with him, and even traveled around playing in a salsa band with Castro. It is reasonable to deduce that these people had knowledge of Castro’s past (of domestic violence) – and yet they deemed him a suitable friend and acquaintance. Apparently they did not feel his horrible treatment of his family was cause for having no contact with him. This is interesting.

[Barb’s appendix] Let this be a lesson to all of us, especially in our roles as bystanders, friends, family and members of a church congregation: Domestic abuse hides in plain sight.  The more we are aware of the little red flags and subtle signs that someone is a perpetrator or a victim, the more we hit the alert button when we have those micro-moments of cognitive dissonance, the more we  pay attention to our intuitions or niggling concerns about a person’s  demeanor, the more we take preemptive action when we hear things like  ‘the alleged abuser had one arrest for domestic violence,’ or ‘the  attorney  requested that the judge keep Spouse A from threatening to  kill Spouse B,’ the harder it will be for abusers to get away with their evil deeds.

13 Comments

  1. Tersia

    Katy, thanks for looking into the past of this man. I am sure there are many more instances like this going on. This was and is not the only one. I often wonder about things like this happening. Barb, you are so right, very rarely does the actual domestic abuse/violence go outside of the home. It is always inside so not many people know what others are going through, and after that they write if off as hear-say. We need to be observant to what is going on and even people’s facial expressions just in case they are trying to send a non-verbal message that they are in trouble.

  2. Brian

    Interesting you should write this Katy. I had been following the story some and had the same thoughts about this guy and wondered if he had been an abusive husband. Sounds like he was not only abusive, but may have killed his wife too. And the tragedy of his own children, seeing and living in that private hell until they could get out. I get concerned that seeing and living with that behavior sort of normalizes it in the mind of an impressionable child unless they can also see loving relationships modeled by another family such as a friend or neighbor or extended family. That is my hope at least.

    We went to DV workshop this past weekend and were given a website that we have found to be helpful to determine or assess how much danger a person may be in, based on type of threat and many other factors. There is a fairly lengthy set of questions to answer, and then you will be given your approximate level of danger of violence based on years of statistics and data. If you are interested, go to http://www.mosaicmethod.com

    • katy

      Brian, as far as I can tell from the news reports, his wife did not die directly from his hands — but she was clearly beaten horribly and over a long period of time.

      I wonder how many of these abusers would attempt kidnapping like this if they knew they could get away with it. We already know that their consciences are severely handicapped (or non existent). It just gives you pause…makes you want to keep your eyes peeled for suspicious behavior…

  3. MeganC

    Katy — Well done. And Barb, I agree with your appendix . . . and it seems that is what former survivors of kidnapping are saying. They are trying to be heard, pleading with the public to pay attention — to go with our gut — to notice if things seem “not right” and to do something about it. Following this case has been utterly emotional for me this week. My heart is sickened when I think about what these girls have been through . . . and more sickened if I allow myself to wonder how many people suspected something was wrong and never spoke up. 😦

  4. MeganC

    Katy, well done. Barbara — I so agree with your appendix. And that is what kidnap/abuse survivors seem to be trying to tell the public: If you seen any signs of anything amiss, please, please report it. They are pleading with people to go with their gut feelings — to investigate, report . . . to care. I have been truly affected by the happenings this week. I cannot imagine all that these women have suffered . . . and, if I allow myself to think about the people who should have spoken up . . . I am sickened.

  5. Just Me

    This story is terrifying. There must be many more cases of hidden women/children. It’s too awful to comprehend. I didn’t realize that his ex wife had passed away. I wonder what she died from. Even if it wasn’t directly abuse related, I wonder if abused persons have a lesser life expectancy just from the sheer stress. I used to read Danni Moss’s blog and I believe she stated that she felt the stress of living in the oppression of domestic violence had caused her to become more susceptible to cancer. Her writings are a treasure.

  6. There are many important lessons to look at when digesting this horrific story. It’s always amazing that a guy like this can appear to be so normal to the outside world – a school bus driver, a musician, yet he had his own private torture chamber at his home, trashing the lives of innocent victims.

    I mentioned on an article on my blog that being held physically captive yields the same results as someone being held emotionally, spiritually, or sexually captive. I am thankful for sites like this that teach/inform and provide support and help set captives free.

    Thanks, Jeff, Barb, Katy, Jeff S. (hope I didn’t miss anyone) for all you do here.

  7. A New Free LIfe, one of our regular readers, has written a post on her blog about the connections between the Stockholm Syndrome, the Cleveland Kidnapping, and the domestic abuse she and her children suffered at the hands of her ex-husband.
    Welcome To Stockholm [Internet Archive link]

  8. I know the area well and can tell you the police rarely respond in that area. Neighbors made many calls to the police over the years and were blown off. I know someone personally who called the police while three gang members where trying to break into her house. The dispatcher asked if they had a gun. My friend said how could she know, they were trying to break down her door, she wasn’t going outside to see if they had a gun. The dispatcher hung up on her. My friend barely escaped alive and moved out from that house as soon as possible no thanks to the police, who b the way, NEVER showed up at her house.

  9. My friend lived on Auburn Ave in a trendy house within a 1/4 mile of Seymour. That is a very rough part of town, despite attempts over the years to revive it. Trendy is mixed in with boarded up drug houses on the same street. I wouldn’t drive there during the day much less at night. Another friend from years ago dated a man who lived on Seymour. He was killed in a drive-by shooting as an innocent person walking down the street. It’s a terrible, terrible area despite the media portraying it as a quiet street – it’s not. Unless a building’s on fire, police rarely respond to 911 calls. The dispatcher we heard on the recordings was more attentive than most in that area.

    • Barnabasintraining

      Wow. That makes the miracle of their escape that much more evident.

      • It does. It’s difficult to imagine what nightmares they lived through for so long. How incredible and wonderful they were able to escape. A miracle, indeed.

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