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Cleveland House of Horrors Victims’ Courage Honored

The “three extraordinary women" kidnapped by Ariel Castro and held hostage in his Cleveland house of horrors were honored by Ohio Gov. John Kasich in his annual courage awards Monday night.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight “emerged not as victims but as victors,” Kasich said, before presenting them with their medals in front of the cheering crowd. They were given an ovation of more than two minutes.

"It is also a story of three women who found an inner strength and a courage that brought them through and sustained them," Kasich said near the end of his annual State of the State speech. "No one rescued them, they rescued themselves, first by staying strong and by sticking together, and then by literally breaking out into freedom."

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The women were freed in May 2013 when Amanda Berry pushed her way through a door at the white-washed home at 2207 Seymour Ave. and escaped with the young girl she bore in captivity. The others were rescued and Castro was arrested. The home was subsequently razed.

Castro admitted he repeatedly raped and beat the women who were snatched off the street and he was sentenced to life plus 1,000 years in prison last August. He was found hanging by a bed sheet in his cell a month into his jail term.

Kasich called them "three extraordinary women, who despite having the worst in this world thrown at them, rose above it and emerged not as victims, but as victors."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.