A sexual abuse victim said her kidnapping saved her from a life of abuse.
Twenty years ago for 17 days, Katie Beers was hidden in a bunker in New York shortly before her 10th birthday. She was put in a coffin-like box and said that experience saved her.
The Pennsylvania woman shared her tale of terror with students at Albright College through a talk sponsored by the Criminal Justice Society.
Katie Beers sells insurance and is a mother of two. And she's an author of Buried Memories, her story about how being kidnapped saved her.
"Before I was abducted, by my godmother and godmother's husband I was physically abused, emotionally abused, mentally abused and verbally abused," said Katie Beers.
To the outside world Beers said there were signs of her abuse: she was beaten with a hairbrush, forced to skip school and didn't bathe regularly. But she never spoke to child protective services when they asked her.
"There was really no getting away from it," said Beers.
She said she was also sexually abused by her godmother's husband. And then two days before her 10th birthday she was kidnapped, by a family friend they called Big John.
"He was in his house doing a couple of things while I was upstairs in his bedroom playing this video game that we had bought," said Beers, "And he then came up on the bed behind me pulled me up onto his lap and he sexually assaulted me."
He kept her in a bunker underground.
"There was a smaller coffin-sized box and that's where I spent about 23 hours out of the day," said Beers.
After 17 days, Big John or John Esposito told his lawyers where she was.
"He was a 40-year-old-man child. He didn't have any friends his own age," said Beers, describing warning signs to Albright students, "All of his friends were prepubescent boys."
Katie Beers spoke at Albright College, but she said on a regular basis she doesn't see herself as a victim.
"I definitely don't see myself as that little girl anymore," said Beers, "I think part of my recovery, I've distanced myself from her."
And what saved her was love.
"After I was abducted and released, I was then immediately put into foster care," said Beers, "So, I was brought into this life that I'd never known before."
Her foster family shielded her from the media for years. She said that's her family. She's married and her foster dad walked her down the aisle. Her two kids call her foster parents their grandparents.