Kidnap victims have long road to recovery

By: Penne Usher, Telegraph Correspondent
-A +A
Jaycee Lee Dugard was isolated from the outside world, held captive for nearly two decades, reportedly raped, birthed two daughters allegedly fathered by her accused abductor and lived in a makeshift tent compound. One can only imagine what Dugard, 11 at the time of her 1991 kidnapping from a South Lake Tahoe bus stop, endured during captivity. Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy Garrido remain in custody in the El Dorado County Jail, and have pleaded not guilty to 29 felony counts of kidnapping, rape, sexual assault and false imprisonment. How Dugard, now 30, is doing now is a question many would like answered. “I think that is the one burning question — where is she and is she doing OK,” said Beth Stargate, of Placerville. “From what I’ve read, she has her family’s support. So, hopefully she will eventually move past all that. I don’t know how, but I hope she can.” Debra Moore is a psychologist and director of Fall Creek Counseling in Carmichael and Roseville. She said it would be difficult to speculate on Dugard’s current condition and how she is coping being thrust into an unfamiliar world. “Everybody is different, but because it was such a long period of time and intense emotional trauma, we can say that a person would develop a set of adaptive mechanisms to handle it,” Moore said. “Those mechanisms would probably become deeply ingrained over time.” Coping mechanisms include, numbing oneself to the situation, denial, distraction, repression or rationalization. “They are different for each person,” Moore said. “We certainly have, from our knowledge of other trauma survivors, some ideas, but it would be arrogant to speculate on what (Jaycee) did to cope.” Moore has not seen nor treated Dugard and is not affiliated in any way with the ongoing case against the Garridos. Dugard was kidnapped on June 10, 1991, and wasn’t found until the Garridos brought her and her two daughters into a police station in Concord, according to authorities. She spent 18 years in a ramshackle tent compound in the backyard of the Garridos’ Antioch home. Dugard did not attend public schools, nor had her daughters, none had access to medical care. “Our first inclination would be to say the girls would come out of this all and it’s horrible,” Moore said. “But there are people all over the world in rural places just raised by their biological parents and the next hut is 20 miles down the road. They somehow survive.” Moore said without knowing Dugard’s daughters, age 11 and 15, were threatened or scared, it is impossible to determine how they will handle their new lives. “All we can do is to make ourselves available as a community which much more valuable than making guesses,” Moore said. “It sounds like they have a lot of support and that is certainly a very good indicator of how resilient someone will be.”