Jaycee Dugard on Reclaiming Her Life After Being Held Captive for 18 Years: 'I Have Lived a Lot of Lifetimes'

Dugard has never been on a date, but doesn't rule out having a relationship.

ByABC News
July 8, 2016, 10:58 PM

— -- Looking at Jaycee Dugard today, you would never know that this seemingly carefree woman, laughing and singing along to the car radio, endured nearly two decades of unimaginable horrors.

"I feel like I have lived a lot of lifetimes," Dugard told ABC News' Diane Sawyer in an exclusive television interview.

Dugard was 11 when she was kidnapped by Phillip and Nancy Garrido in 1991 near her Lake Tahoe, California, home. She was held captive for 18 years and gave birth to two daughters, fathered by Phillip Garrido, while she was their prisoner.

Dugard, now 36, first detailed her horrific experience in her 2011 bestselling book, "A Stolen Life: A Memoir," and now has a second book, "Freedom: My Book of Firsts," about moving on after those years in captivity, which is due out July 12.

Dugard sat down with ABC's Diane Sawyer for a special edition of "20/20" to air today at 10 p.m. ET, her third interview with Sawyer since she first spoke about her horrendous experience in 2011 and talked about what she went through, her miraculous rescue and how she's is reacclimating to society.

When Phillip Garrido and his wife kidnapped Dugard, he was a convicted sex offender on parole for a previous abduction and rape. He had been sentenced to 50 years in prison but was released after serving 11 years.

Dugard said he shocked her with a stun gun to get her into their car, and Nancy Garrido held her down in the back. Then they drove her 120 miles away to their home near San Francisco, which had a collection of rundown sheds and storage units hidden in the backyard.

When Dugard talks about what happened, she refers to it as "The prison backyard."

"There's no denying it. I don't want to deny it … what it was like being in the backyard," Dugard said. "It was so much a part of my life. … It's always there, in the back of my mind. It never really goes away."

The first day, Dugard said Garrido stripped off her clothes, walked her into a shed and put her in handcuffs. He burned her favorite little pink outfit she had on. Five days later, he raped her for the first time.

"My first taste of pure evil," Dugard said. "Maybe I didn't register that and go, 'Oh my God, you're evil,' but … there's something inside of you that knows this is not right."

At first, Dugard said her only connection to the outside world was a little TV set Phillip Garrido gave her, which was set to the QVC channel. She remembers falling asleep to the sound of jewelry being sold and being grateful for the sound of human voices.

Dugard said Garrido also made threats, warning her that if she tried to escape, there were dogs outside the shed door or he threatened to sell her to someone else. He forbade her from using her real name and instead called her "Allissa."

"I remember one night when he dressed me up … and asked [me to] look in the mirror," Dugard wrote in her book. "All I saw was a 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.

"I had to avert my eyes quickly," she added. "I did not want to provoke the sleeping dragon."

More than two years into her captivity, Dugard learned she was pregnant and gave birth at age 14 to her first daughter. In 1997, Dugard gave birth to her second daughter.

Parole officers came to the Garridos' house a stunning 60 times to check on Phillip Garrido and didn't check the sheds behind the fence in the backyard. Garrido was also given a GPS tracker, which apparently wasn't monitored closely.

"You can clearly see him going to the secret backyard … and they would have been able to spot how much time he was spending there," Dugard said.

Dugard and her daughters were rescued in 2009. Phillip Garrido had been called in for questioning by his parole officer after being alerted by University of California-Berkeley campus security that Garrido was on campus and acting suspiciously.

Garrido was summoned to the parole office and brought his family with him, including Dugard. After hours of questioning, Dugard, who had not been allowed to say her name for years, wrote it down on a piece of paper. Once authorities realized who she was, Dugard was allowed to call her mother.

"I just said, 'Come quick.' I remember saying, 'Come, come quick,'" Dugard said.

Phillip Garrido pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping and 13 counts of sexual assault and was sentenced to 431 years in prison. Nancy Garrido pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping, one count of rape by force and to California's "one strike" rape law. She was sentenced to 36 years to life in prison.

The state of California awarded Dugard $20 million after a scathing investigation by the Inspector General that concluded that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation "repeatedly failed to properly classify and supervise parolee Garrido."

Dugard's mother, Terry Probyn, said she is still fighting against her anger at the Garridos and the carelessness of the police.

"It does eat at me, still to this day," Probyn told Sawyer. "I know I have to channel that anger into something good, because it will eat me alive … if I let it."

Even though her daughter has been home for seven years, Probyn said she still becomes filled with terror when Dugard is out of sight.

"The thoughts flood, 'Is she going to come back? Am I ever going to see her again?'" Probyn said. "And then I'll hear her skulking around the kitchen and I'll think, 'Oh, it's OK! She is here, she is home.'"

Since her rescue, Dugard has been coming to a horse ranch as part of her re-entry into the world after being held prisoner. The ranch is owned by her therapist, Dr. Rebecca Bailey, who uses horses to help victims of trauma regain confidence.

"One of the most important things of working with survivors of abduction is allowing them to have choices in every single thing they do," Bailey said. "Those things happened to her; they're not who she is."

After 18 years in isolation, Dugard's eyes are still sensitive to sunlight. She also had to learn how to be independent and make choices for herself. She says she even had a coach for everyday things such as shopping at the grocery store or writing a check.

Dugard joked that she is living her awkward teen years now as a woman approaching 40, "to try to figure out … who I am," she said, and learning how to drive, for instance.

She says every day she has to make the choice not to yield to regret, knowing that she now has an opportunity to do the things she once dreamed about in the backyard.

"I didn't want to give one more minute to Phillip and Nancy … they took 18 years of my life," Dugard said. "I would like to see them in jail for the rest of their lives. … I don't really believe in the death penalty. It's just hard knowing that you're paying, being a taxpayer now, knowing that you're paying for his meals three times a day."

Dugard was 11 when she was kidnapped and has never been on a date, but she is not ruling out having a relationship one day.

"The only time I was asked on a date was when I was like 8 or something like that and I was so shy," Dugard said. "I didn't even look up when this boy was asking me to go out with him. He was like 8, too."

She said she is not on any dating websites or apps, but would look for a guy who was "caring, has a sense of humor and can laugh at stuff" and who also loves to cook. She admitted that her daughters want her to find someone.

"It's not that I don't think about that stuff, it's just there's no guys in my life like that," Dugard said. Dugard now travels to medical schools across the country to talk with psychology residents and ask them not to use the term "Stockholm syndrome," a phrase Dugard finds "degrading."

"Having my family believe that I was in love with this captor and wanted to stay with him? I mean, that is so far from the truth that it makes me want to throw up," Dugard said. "It's disgusting. … I adapted to survive my circumstances. There is just no other way to put it."

When Dugard was in captivity, she secretly wrote down a sort of "bucket list" of items she thought she would never get to do. The first thing she wrote was, "See mom."

Today, she works with the JAYC Foundation, and organization she founded to help other trauma victims, and she’s continuing to check off more items from her list, like going on a hot air balloon ride and learning to sail.

"It's taken a lot of time and it hasn't come overnight," she added. "You have to put in the hard work and cry and, for sure, laugh about everything that you can."