Jaycee Dugard: Long Road Back After Kidnapping

Jaycee Dugard is back with her family 18 years after being kidnapped by Phillip Garrido at the age of 11. Now Dugard and her two daughters face a long road ahead as they try to adapt to a normal life.

As we begin to learn more about the way Jaycee Dugard and her children lived -- in a series of ramshackle tents and sheds amid squalor -- one can only imagine how Dugard will be able to re-integrate back into society.

VIDEO: Kidnapping victims face a difficult return to normalcy.

"It's been suggested that there's been signs of Stockholm Syndrome, that she may be feeling loyalty, perhaps even guilt and that makes it all the more difficult. It also means it's going to require very serious therapy [and] intervention," said psychologist John Lutzker, Ph.D., director for the Center for Healthy Development at Georgia State University. "In addition to therapy, simply spending a lot of time with her family would be useful to help this process move along."

Ernie Allen, the president and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said on "Good Morning America" today that it isn't surprising that Dugard was reportedly working for Garrido and had access to a computer and telephone during her captivity.

"I think if ever there's an example [of Stockholm Syndrome]…this is it," said Allen, whose organization helped find a psychologist to work with Dugard and her family. "This child was abducted when she was 11. She was terrorized, she was abused. The mind can only take so much anger, rage and fear, and small kindnesses cause these victims to identify with their captors."

"This happens with adults," he added. "First and foremost, what Jaycee did was figure out how to survive."

Mental health experts have few examples to guide them in dealing with extreme kidnapping cases such as this one.

In Austria Elisabeth Fritzl was held captive in her basement by her father and bore seven children with him until her plight was discovered last year. She has yet to be emerge in public, but reportedly has made significant progress, possibly even finding love.

Closer to home is the case of Elizabeth Smart, who was snatched from her suburban Utah bedroom in 2002 at the age of 14.

More than a year later, as hope was fading, an elderly couple spotted a disguised and frightened Elizabeth with her captor Brian David Mitchell. He reportedly forced her to live as his young wife. For the Smart family, forgiveness was key.

"We don't forget what happened," Elizabeth's mother Lois Smart told "GMA" in 2008. "But we have to move forward. And in order to move forward, we have to let the past go."

Kidnapping Victims Must Find 'a New Normal'

And then there's the case of the 2002 kidnapping of 11-year-old Shawn Hornbeck. He was bicycling near his Missouri home when he was abducted by Michael Devlin.

Four and a half years later, police were searching for another missing child, Ben Ownby, in Kirkwood, Mo., when they discovered Hornbeck, who was 15 years old at the time. He had been sexually abused, and had been forced to help Devlin kidnap and hold Ownby. Devlin was sentenced to life behind bars.

For Shawn Hornbeck's mother Pam Akers, hearing the details of her son's ordeal and learning that "some of my worst nightmares were true," was heartbreaking.

"There's a lot of things that happened from 11 to 15 that are firsts that will never happen again. They're just lost forever," Shawn's father, Craig Akers, said. "It's really hard to come to term with that fact that those years are gone."

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...