I’m sure most of you have heard the story by now about Ariel Castro, the man who kept 3 women captive for 10(ish) years. Ariel Castro was arrested on May 6th, 2013 for the kidnappings of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight. At that time they were ages 16, 14, and 21. He also fathered a now 6 year old girl with Amanda Berry. Through the 10 years he is accused of continuously raping, beating, and starving the girls, forcing Berry into several miscarriages.
On July 26, 2013 he pled guilty to 937 criminal counts of rape, kidnapping, and aggravated murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole, plus 1,000 years.
I’ve been reading many articles about the story and have become pretty disturbed by them over the past couple months. I have felt the normal emotions of total disgust towards this story, but I have heard a few quotes since then that have totally sickened me.
Ariel Castro said, “People are trying to paint me as a monster and I'm not a monster… I’m sick.”
The second quote, spoken by an NBC report, stated that Ariel Castro is “the face of mental illness.”
I pause before I type more because I need to get past the plethora of swear words going through my mind. The face of mental illness….are you f***ing kidding me?? (Sorry…couldn’t get past it).
Why is that every time someone does something so unexplainably villainous, it gets blamed on mental illness? If someone’s actions are so intense they can’t be comprehended, mental illness is the first thing to be blamed. Saying that he is “the face of mental illness” is painting a picture that everyone with an evil heart is mentally ill. Not true. Not true at all.
What was this reporter, or the writer, thinking? Did they think before they wrote/spoke? It's dangerous to me that there are still many people out there that think this way.
The quote from this reporter is everything I am fighting against. While myself and the rest of us “stigma busters” are fighting the stigma, this quote is a direct insult to anyone who has ever struggled with mental illness. It is a huge push back in the times where anyone with a mental illness is labelled as a “freak” or abnormal.
There are so many people hiding their illnesses out there because of stories like this. I mean, why would you want to come out and be yourself when being yourself is associated with a rapist and kidnapper?
It’s stories like this that make me more and more motivated to punch back and give stigma a big “up yours.” It may take time to end the stigma surrounding mental health, and there will be obstacles, but we will get there.