What Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were seeking, after finally being freed from the chains of a rapist and a kidnapper, was justice. But often times while seeking justice, the need to right something that was morally wrong can transform into a deep desire for revenge.
On the one hand, one could argue that Ariel Castro is better off dead—wiped from the earth and hopefully, gradually, from these three girls’ memories. If he stayed alive, the justice the girls sought could have easily mutated into a craving for revenge. And revenge is a funny, rather uncanny thing: it mirrors the person who was hurt because that person becomes the perpetrator in the end. It’s like Syrian opposition soldiers; in seeking revenge, they’ve turned to tactics as brutal as the ones their enemies use.
But there’s no saying that the three girls’ need for justice would have morphed into a need for revenge—and what’s more, Ariel Castro didn’t even allow justice to be served. Instead, he took control of his own life—of the only aspect of his life he still had control over—and killed himself. Whether or not this was an actual suicide or an inside job is an interesting matter, but also a moot point. Because, in the end, justice wasn’t served.
So how does one cope? What are the victims left with to feel any semblance of retribution, of closure?
It’s the same predicament Mr. and Mrs. Morales find themselves in, the parents of Cherice Morales, a girl who killed herself after being raped by her teacher, Stacey Dean Rambold. They, too, just wanted to see that justice was served. They had their daughter taken away from them—they were left with nothing, except the vague hope that Rambold would get what he deserves.
And the same goes for Trayvon Martin’s family. Trayvon is gone; there’s no getting him back, and yet they continued to seek justice if, for nothing else, peace of mind. And yet again, justice wasn’t served.
So how are these people supposed to heal when there is salt being poured all over their wound?