Jaycee Lee Dugard started out June 10, 1991 like any other day as she headed for the bus stop to await her ride to school. Little did Jaycee know her life would never be the same, and she wouldn’t see her loved ones again for nearly 2 decades. Jaycee was a young girl of just 11 the day she was kidnapped by Nancy and Phillip Garrido. She would be robbed of innocence, stripped of pride and powerless to her captors for so long, she would eventually succumb to their lies and manipulations and stop attempting to get free.
Sadly, Jaycee’s case isn’t the only time a young girl’s life was stolen from her due to abduction. Elizabeth Smart was taken from her Utah home in 2002 and held captive until 2003 when she was recognized and rescued. Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight were kept prisoner in the Ohio home of Ariel Castro for over 10 years before they escaped.
How do innocent victims move on with what remains of their lives after going through such unspeakable trauma? Slowly, and in private. Alan Hilfer, chief psychologist at Maimonides Medical Cetner in New York City has said of the events following the rescue of these victims, “Everyone is fascinated, frightened and wants to know what happened. But after a spokesperson comes out with some statements and these kids are debriefed, one of the most important things is for the family to have time to recover on their own and establish relationships.”
Dr. Tina J. Walch, director of ambulatory services at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New Hyde Park, New York Has said of the experience these victims have after rescue, “There’s the disorientation of vanishing from one world when you’re a child and remerging into an entirely different one when you’re a different person yourself.”
15 Jaycee Was Abducted At Age 11
The fateful morning Jaycee Dugard was taken started out like any other day. Her stepfather, Carl Probyn, walked her to the bus stop. She recalls being dressed in her favorite all-pink outfit, excited and apprehensive about the 5th grade field trip she was set to attend that day. Probyn said his goodbyes before heading home, leaving her standing there alone. Phillip Garrido pulled up beside Jaycee in his car and asked her for directions. Before she knew what was happening, he shot her with a stun gun. His wife, Nancy, pulled her into the car.
Probyn saw Jaycee being forced into a strange vehicle and pursued the car on his bike, but soon lost sight of it. He immediately alerted law enforcement officials and the search for Jaycee began. Duggard has said of the incident, “All of a sudden, his hand shoots out of the car window and I feel this shock, I stumble back into the bushes trying to back away. But my body feels all tingly and suddenly I am in the car, in the back, on the floorboards, under a blanket and there is someone sitting on me.”
Jaycee shared with investigators, “As we drive for what seems like forever, and I am hot and my bladder has emptied, I hear this man say, ‘I can’t believe we got away with it,’ and he started laughing.” She has called the incident “the most horrible moment in your life, times 10.”
14 Dugard Was Kept Less Than 200 Miles From Her Home
Jaycee recalls trying not to cry because she was handcuffed and the tears running down her cheeks got itchy due to the fact that she wasn’t able to wipe them away. She has said, “I didn’t know why he was doing this. I just wanted to go home.”
The young girl informed Garrido that her family didn’t have any money to pay a ransom. She would soon discover money was the last thing on his mind. Dugard’s captors took her to their residence in Antioch, California, approximately 170 miles away from her home in South Lake Tahoe.
By the time the three reached their destination, all of Jaycee’s clothing had been removed. She managed to conceal a butterfly ring from the Garridos. It became something she treasured over the next 18 years. Still handcuffed, Jaycee was taken into a shower and raped by Garrido. Afterwards, he left her naked and handcuffed in a small shed.
13 Jaycee Had A Pet Spider Named Bianca
Jaycee was kept handcuffed in the shed for the first week of her captivity, after which she was moved to a bigger shed and handcuffed to a bed. She was given a television to watch sometimes, but was forbidden to watch the news. She had no idea that the entire community was doing everything they could to find her.
The shed she was kept in had a sound-proof door that Garrido would close and lock whenever he left her alone. He told her that she would be bitten by vicious guard dogs if she attempted to escape. Of the quiet after she was left alone, Jaycee has said, “I can still hear it, consciously, when I’m awake. Some sounds and smells just don’t leave you.”
Jaycee’s only friend during these lonely times was a spider who also resided in the shed that she named Bianca. Dugard shared in an interview with Diane Sawyer, “I would live in my own world. Physical abuse was all I knew.”
12 Garrido Dressed Jaycee Up To Fulfill His Fantasies
Garrido would frequently dress Jaycee up and put her through long drug-fueled sex sessions. He told her she was there to help him with his “sex problem.”
Dugard has shared, “When a psycho grown-up man that has kidnapped you and taken you away from everything you have known and loved forces you to ‘dress up’ and put on makeup for his personal fantasies … your viewpoint can change. I know mine has.”
On one occasion, Jaycee began to cry after Garrido dressed her up. She shared of the moment, “I was smearing the makeup job he had done on me, but I just could not hold the tears back. I could tell he was agitated, and I knew I had to stop crying. I was scared of what would happen if I didn’t.”
When her captor asked her why she was crying, Jaycee told him. She shared, “I told him I felt ugly. I remember he looked at me and said, ‘You look beautiful. Here, I will show you. Look into the mirror.’ ”
Jaycee concluded, “Well, I looked. I don’t doubt that he thought I was pretty that night. His creation. The girl he took from the bus stop. A girl he controlled and could be anything he wanted. All I saw was a very frightened girl who I didn’t even recognize with mascara running down her cheeks and the saddest face I had ever glimpsed staring back at me.”
11 Jaycee Became Pregnant At Age 13
After the long, horrific episodes in which Jaycee would endure unimaginable things, Garrido would break down and cry. He would apologize to her for what he was doing. Dugard has shared, “He would tell me what an awful man he was.” In spite of her own suffering, she was incredulous that he expected her to empathize with and comfort him.
Sometimes, Garrido would bring Jaycee milkshakes and fast food and tell her silly stories. Eventually, Nancy Garrido became a regular visitor as well. According to Jaycee, sometimes Nancy was the one she feared most. Of Garrido’s wife, Jaycee has shared,
“[she was] very jealous of me for some reason, like I wanted her husband to rape me, very jealous, and sick.” The couple renamed Jaycee “Allissa” and forbade her from speaking or even writing her former name.
Jaycee got her first home cooked meal over a year after her abduction when the Garridos informed her they suspected she was pregnant. Jaycee learned all she could about childbirth from pamphlets and on television.
10 She Gave Birth For The First Time At Age 14
Jaycee gave birth to her first daughter, Angel at the young age of 14 without any medical help and only codeine provided by the Garridos to help her with the pain. She has shared of giving birth in such dire conditions, “I can’t fathom how I kept it together or, you know, I must’ve been checked out, you know, on a different level. You know, [I was] present, but not present for, you know, some of it, because it’s terrifying on its own. But being alone, how did I even do that?”
Dugard spoke of the moment Angle arrived in an interview with Diane Sawyer that aired on ABC, “She came out and then I saw her. She was beautiful. I felt like I wasn’t alone anymore. I had somebody who was mine.”
Suddenly, Jaycee had a new reason to live and a new reason to stay strong. She knew she was willing to do whatever it took to protect her precious baby. She has said, “I knew I could never let anything happen to her. I didn’t know how I was going to do that, but I did.”
9 Dugard Had Her Second Daughter At Age 17
Jaycee gave birth to her second daughter, Starlit at the age of 17. Once again, Dugard never saw a doctor and had no medical assistance during the baby’s delivery. She has shared of giving birth in such grim conditions, “Anything could happen, and I had two.” After Jaycee had children, the Garridos gave she and her daughters more freedom to move around the backyard and even allowed them to come inside of the house sometimes.
Phillip insisted that the girls refer to Nancy as their mother and told Jaycee to pose as an older sister to her two children. Dugard’s babies renewed her will to survive. They were her inpiration to stay strong despite the heartache and depression she was dealing with. In fact, a public sighting of Garrido with his two daughters would eventually be what led to his arrest and Jaycee’s freedom from captivity.
8 Jaycee Planted A Flower Outside Of Their Shed
It was clear to Jaycee that it was up to her to give her daughters a sense of normalcy in the very un-normal situation in which they were being raised. She planted a flower outside of the shed in which they spent much of their time to bring some beauty and happiness into their very small and sheltered world.
Dugard and her girls rarely left the property where they were being held. The boredom, the angst and the frustration must have been unbearable. Yet, Jaycee found joy and happiness in life with her girls despite her circumstances. She now knew giving up hope was not an option.
When asked how she was ever able to survive such an ordeal, Jayce shared, “I don’t know. I can’t imagine being beaten to death, and you can’t imagine being kidnapped and raped. You just do what you have to do to survive.”
7 Dugard Held Homeschool For Her Girls
Despite her limited 5th grade education, Jaycee was determined to teach her girls everything she could about the world in which they lived. She dug deep and did her best to teach her children the basics of reading, math, science and history.
As time went on, Dugard knew her homeschool lessons were falling short of what her children needed, but she also knew she had to try to give them the knowledge they needed to be successful in the outside world. The pictures taken by the FBI after Jaycee’s release paint a very unsettling picture of what life was like in the confines of Garrido’s backyard.
The mess in which Jaycee and her two daughters lived has been described as “squaller.” It was a mish-mash of tarps, tents, rusty playground equipment and run-down sheds. It is chilling to see the signs everywhere that little girls were playing, living and learning in these conditions.
6 Jaycee And Her Girls Had Very Little Contact With The Outside World
Many people question why Jaycee didn’t attempt to escape, especially when Garrido gave her more freedom as the years went on. She even worked as a graphic designer in his print shop where she had access to a phone and an email address and sometimes dealt with customers.
Dugard was afraid of what might happen to her daughters if she ever tried to run. Additionally, she had endured years of torture and lies from her captors, leading her to believe she had no chance of ever becoming free.
“People who are rapidly sexually traumatized sort of leave their bodies, and their mind is somewhere else to deal with it,” says Walch. While this strategy is a good way to cope with trauma in the short term, over time, it can do long term damage, and even distort reality. Watch continues, “They may be suffering depression and anxiety or some PTSD and dissociative disorder depending on if there was severe sexual trauma.”
5 Dugard Was Told Her Family No Longer Loved Her Or Wanted Her
Phillip and Nancy drilled into Jaycee the fact that her family no longer loved her or cared about her. After years of hearing such a painful message, especially beginning at such a young and impressionable age, it isn’t surprising that Dugard believed them. Jaycee has said of why she didn’t attempt to run, “What I knew was safe. The unknown out there was terrifying, especially when thinking about the girls.”
Over the nearly two decades that Jaycee was with Garrido, he was visited by parole officers over 60 times, and she was never discovered or helped. It is understandable that she felt no one was looking for her or cared if she was alive. Dugard once shared of the parole officer’s visits, “I actually talked to one of the agents, and the agent proceeded to give Phillip his urine test and left. He made me feel like he didn’t really care.”
4 Dugard Was Freed After Nearly 20 Years Spent In Captivity
Finally, on August 24, 2009, Garrido’s charade began to unravel. He visited the UC Berkeley campus with his two daughters and raised the suspicions of the UCPD special events manager. After running a background check, it was discovered that Garrido was a registered sex offender who had been previously convicted for kidnapping and rape. His parole officer was contacted, and was very surprised to learn that Garrido apparently had children.
Jaycee and her two daughters attended a parole meeting with Garrido on August 26, 2009. Sugars claimed her name was Allissa and initially corroborated Garrido’s story. Eventually, the facts weren’t adding up and Garrido broke down and confessed the truth. Jaycee then revealed who she really was, and began her long journey of recovery and healing.
Why would Jaycee cover for her captor? Walch explains why many victims don’t run away from their captors, and even lie to protect them. She says, “Instead of being tortured, you [receive] kindness. You are given a drop of water, you’re not beaten. You begin to develop feelings of gratitude. Over time it wears on even the strongest person. If this is your only contact, you come to value that contact, so that even when given the opportunity to run away or get help, you don’t.”
3 Jaycee Was Reunited With Her Family 18 Years After Her Abduction
Phillip Garrido was sentenced to 431 years to life in prison after he plead guilty to kidnapping, along with 13 sexual assault charges that included rape and committing lewd acts captured on video. His wife, Nancy Garrido was sentenced to 36 years to life for kidnapping and rape as part of Phillip’s plea deal with prosecuters.
When interviewed in his jail cell by a local radio station, Garrido eerily stated that he harbors the hope that people will recognize the account of Jaycee’s abduction and subsequent years of captivity as “a warm-hearted story.”
Jaycee has decided to let go of the hatred and anger she could feel towards Garrido. Instead, she wants to put all of her time and energy into moving forward with her life. Her mother, who was reunited with her little girl after 18 torturous years doesn’t feel the same. She told Sawyer, “I think I have enough hate in my heart for the both of us. I hate that he took her life away, I hate that he stole her from me, he ripped out a piece of my heart, and he stole my baby.”
To Jaycee, she continued, “He stole your childhood, he stole your adolescence, he stole your high school proms, and pictures and memories.”
2 Dugard Is Open To Her Daughters Seeing Their Father
Jaycee realizes that she and her daughters have a long and difficult road ahead. She struggles with how much to talk about their life before they were freed and the amount of time she should spend talking about their father.
She shared of how she refers to Garrido, “When I refer to him … I think I’ve been calling him Phillip lately, actually.”
On how her daughters view their father and her captor, and how to deal with their painful pasts, she has said, “They saw his craziness and ups and downs and knew how unpredictable he was. To know it was OK to laugh about, you know, Phillip and Nancy and their … craziness … it helps.”
Even though Jaycee is open to talking with her daughters about what they have been through, she isn’t keen on them ever seeing him again. Despite this, she has decided to leave the decision up to them. She told Sawyer,”I want them to make their own choices in life, and if that’s something that they need to do, then you know I’d … I wouldn’t be OK with it. But I wouldn’t not let them do it.”
1 Jaycee Is Living For the Future
Since being freed, Jaycee has taken many steps toward finding peace in her new life and, in her own words, “learning” how to be free. She has published two books: A Stolen Life, a chilling memoir chronicling her time spent in captivity, and Freedom: My Book of Firsts that details her life since being freed.
The State of California awarded the Dugard family a $20 million settlement to attempt to compensate for the state’s failed parole supervision of Garrido while Jaycee was being held captive.
Jaycee is a shining example of overcoming obstacles and not allowing the pain in our pasts define our futures. In her second book, Jaycee writes, “There is life after something tragic happens. Life doesn’t have to end if you don’t want it to. It’s all in how you look at it. Somehow, I still believe that we each hold the key to our own happiness and you have to grab it where you can in whatever form it might take.”
Jaycee has also shared, “When I look in the mirror now, I don’t see the ugly broken child I was and who Phillip tried his best to create because he thought that was beautiful. No, I don’t see her. I just simply see the beauty in me.”
Sources: ABCNews.go.com, People.com, Biography.com, CBSNews.com, IBTimes.com, Science.Time.com
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