Twenty years after Katie Beers first found herself in East Hampton, following the horror of her kidnapping in western Suffolk County, she said she is thankful to the community for protecting her.
"I knew I wanted to write my story," she said on Tuesday, two days after her book, "Buried Memories" was released. Even as a 10-year-old, she knew she wanted to share her story, though at that age her hope was "to lay the rumors to rest about what had happened to me," — held captive for 17 days in an underground bunker, rape, and sexual abuse since she was 2 years old.
"As I got older and matured, it became more of a survival story and I wanted people to see that there is recovery after trauma," Beers said.
Now a 30-year-old married mother-of-two living in central Pennsylvania, Beers said she holds East Hampton close to her heart.
The community "really just gave me a chance to be a child and grow up. They shielded me from the media. No one really asked any questions of me. They just allowed me to be a 10 year old child," she said.
Her co-author, CBS-TV reporter Carolyn Gusoff, who covered Beers' disappearance, said East Hampton is given much credit in the book. "She was missing so much in the first 10 years of her life and it came back in abundance after that," Gusoff said.
Immediately after she was found, Beers was placed with foster parents in Springs. While she was never adopted, "They are my parents through and through," she said.
They have remained anonymous publicly, though in East Hampton it is no secret. Beers said they supported her decision to go public, and have expressed how proud they are of her, but don't wish to be interviewed.
As she grew up, they shielded her from the media, never letting her see newspaper articles, or to know what "a media sensation" she was. "If it wasn’t for my parents, I wouldn’t have recovered the way I did," she said.
In the book, Beers thanks the community she grew to call home and said they were instrumental in her recovery. "The wonderful people of East Hampton for circling the wagons to protect me," she wrote.
In particular, she thanks Mary Bromley, an East Hampton-based psychotherapist who began treating her almost immediately after she was found. She called her an ally and a friend. "Without Mary, and her genuine care for my well-being, I don't believe that I would have ever been able to recover from the trauma I endured as a child," she wrote.
She credits the Springs School, which she attended from January 1993 to June 1997, with creating a safe environment for her. She singles out Peter Lisi, the former principal and a family friend, and Dolores McGintee, her fourth grade teacher.
"Thanks to Mrs. McGintee and the entire McGintee clan — Mrs. McGintee helped me through fourth grade, whether it be with schoolwork, or someone to confide in, I knew that she was there for me. Mr. [Bill] McGintee was my first softball coach, and one of the few first men that I knew that I could trust!"
While she has always prefered for family and friends to ask questions, rather than speculate, she said her classmates never asked her anything outright about her kidnapping. "There were a few that would say stuff like, 'I heard you were held between two walls'," she said.
Though she never gave an interview before the book was written, Beers said she always shared her story with the people in her life. "I let them know what happened to me because it’s a huge part of my story," she said, adding, "Then, I watch the dumbfounded look on their faces."
New friends often don't have much to say, then "Google me and have abundance of questions afterwards."
Beers said she would welcome the opportunity to become a motivational speaker.
She hopes those who read her book will gain hope for their own situation, whatever it may be. "I’m hoping that they can realize that with the appropriate support system . . . you can recover from trauma. It doesn’t have to be abuse, it could be anything."