CNN — Grappling with the fact that his father was a convicted rapist and kidnapper was difficult enough.
Throw in the glare of the national media, a burglary and his father's suicide, and Ariel Anthony Castro's life became surreal.
Now, the younger Castro is speaking out about his struggles in an essay for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He wants to set the record straight: "I'm not my father."
"I'm still shell-shocked from the way these past several months unfolded. Instantly, my father became one of the most hated men alive," he wrote. "In no time, reporters from around the world demanded to know who this man was and what kind of background he came from. Just like that, my father went from captured to convicted to imprisoned to dead."
He described hiding at a friend's house "because I was shaken to the core, and I didn't want to be forced to grieve with cameras and microphones pointed at me."
When Castro eventually returned to his home, he noticed someone had broken in, ransacked it and carved an expletive into the front door.
He said he's still disgusted and angry about the crimes his father committed.
"He deserved to pay for his actions, every day of those 1,000 years he could possibly serve," Castro wrote. "My anger with him kept me from visiting him in prison, even when he was moved to a facility just 20 minutes away from my doorstep. Coping would have to come before any possibility of a change of heart. But after mere weeks, that window slammed shut."
After his father committed suicide, Castro said he had to deal with reporters who tried to get his "knee-jerk reaction, wanting to know the whereabouts of my father's remains, waiting for me outside the Franklin County coroner's office."
But he's trying to cope with all the horrible surprises of the past year.
"I learned long ago that it's not worth the effort to actively hate someone who will always be in your life," Castro wrote.
"Instead of bidding goodbye and good riddance to Ariel Castro, the question should be, now what? If my father's life and death can lead to changes in how we deal with sexual predators, domestic violence, mental illness and, yes, prison safety, then we should have those discussions. If we can prevent a repeat here or anywhere, then justice truly will have been served amid all the broken pieces my father left behind."
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