When Tanya Nicole Kach heard the 911 recording of Amanda Berry in Cleveland saying, "I'm free now," it took her back to when she escaped from her captor in McKeesport.
" 'I'm free now,' that's what I said seven years ago," said Ms. Kach, now 31. "... She sounded like me. It was like I heard myself, and everything came back to me."
After three women who were missing for a decade or more were found in a Cleveland home Monday, Ms. Kach said she wanted them to know she was there for them.
"When I got home, there was no one who could say, 'I went through the same thing. I'm here for you,' " Ms. Kach said. "... But it would have made a world of difference."
It hurts to talk about the decade she spent under lock and key, but she said, "If I could guide them, if that could ease them a little, that would be great."
Ms. Kach disappeared Feb. 10, 1996, when she was a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Cornell Intermediate School.
A decade later, on March 21, 2006, she resurfaced, saying she had been held by former school security guard Thomas J. Hose in his McKeesport home.
Ms. Kach's attorney, Lawrence H. Fisher, said the story out of Cleveland hits close to home for Ms. Kach.
"For her, it's a mixed blessing: On the one hand, there's comfort in numbers almost -- to know that others have suffered just the way that Tanya did."
The news also brings attention "to the kinds of situations where susceptible, vulnerable children are held captive by pedophiles," he said.
Ms. Kach said she lives with demons, flashbacks and nightmares, but her mantra every day is to stay strong -- advice she hopes to pass on to Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.
"Stay strong. There is a light at the end of the tunnel," she said. "You have a lot of people out there who love and support [you]. And I'm here; I know what you went through."
She said many things have helped her move on, such as "a lot of counseling" and surrounding herself with positive people. Though becoming reacquainted with family and friends after a decade can be hard, it's important, she said.
Ms. Kach said she hoped the people in the women's lives won't judge them or ask questions such as "Why didn't you leave?" or "Why didn't you tell him no?"
"You don't tell him no. You go into survival mode. You do whatever you have to do, no matter how horrific it is. I did it, and that's why I'm here," she said.
In 2007, Hose, facing more than 100 years in prison, pleaded guilty to all charges -- three counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, statutory sexual assault, interfering with the custody of a child, corruption of a minor and child endangerment.
He was sentenced to five to 15 years, with a maximum sentence date of Feb. 9, 2022, on a count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.
Hose, now 56, has a parole interview scheduled for July, according to Sherry Tate, spokeswoman for the PA Board of Probation and Parole. He was previously denied parole after a March 2012 interview.
Ms. Kach said she hopes they "keep that monster in jail."
Seven years after she left Hose's house, she says she has a "pretty normal life" in Clairton.
She's engaged, takes care of her two stepchildren and got her first dog, a golden retriever-cocker spaniel mix named Sugar.
Mr. Fisher said, "I think that she's getting better and better, and handling the flashback and the emotional aspect of having to recall 10 years of [being] the sex slave of a pedophile."neigh_east - neigh_south
The Associated Press and staff writer Molly Born contributed. Lexi Belculfine: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1878 or Twitter: @LexiBelc.