I just read an amazing book, called “A Stolen Life”, which is a memoir written by Jaycee Dugard, the woman who was abducted/kidnapped in California at age 11, and held captive by her abductor and his wife for 18 years. I believe she was found a year ago, by sheer accident. During her captivity, she gave birth to 2 daughters (at age 14 and 17), fathered by her kidnapper, and she and her daughters were freed together, and are now leading a normal life, reunited with Ms. Dugard’s family, and rediscovering the world in her case after 18 years of isolation, and her daughters are discovering the world for the first time.
Her story, and what happened to her, is every parent’s worst nightmare, or second worst. A parent’s worst nightmare being the death of a child. But this comes as a very close second. Abduction while an innocent child is walking to school, stolen from a mother who loved her and never gave up hope of finding her again. Torture, isolation, rape, living in horrifying conditions, hidden and locked up and often handcuffed in a backyard compound by a man who was a convicted felon, and his wife who was his willing accomplice for 18 years, giving birth to 2 babies when she was barely more than a baby herself, and then trying to take care of and protect her daughters. Her fear of offending her captors, her hopelessness of being able to get away and ever see her family again, her acute loneliness for 18 years, and surely despair, the incredible trauma she went through. And yet she tells her story simply, and quietly, without sensationalism, but with gentle grace and honesty. The story simply is what it is, and you can sense her quiet striving for normalcy now, her gratitude to be reunited with her family, and her determination to make a good life for her daughters. Jaycee Dugard is truly an amazing woman. Remarkable in every way. She has come through an experience that would destroy most people, and break the spirit of people older and stronger than she was at the age she was abducted. It was no less awful than being in a prison camp, or a prisoner of war, tortured and humiliated and humbled. And yet, it is extraordinary what the human spirit can survive. And clearly, Jaycee Dugard has survived it as a whole person, with dignity and grace.
I was enormously impressed by the woman, and saddened by what happened to her. She was the victim of unthinkable emotional and physical abuse, and yet has come through it admirably. I wish her well in the life she will lead now. When you think of what you were doing 18 years ago, you realize how long that span of time is. My children were tiny then, and are now adults, with jobs after college, except the youngest who is still in college, and would have been a toddler then. My marriage lasted 18 years, which seems a very long, respectable length of time these days. We’ve been through several presidents. She was abducted for nearly 2 decades, was taken as an 11 year old, and rescued at nearly 30. How lucky her mother was to find her again, and how incredible that she always believed she would see her daughter again. How did she not give up hope? How did she stand the not knowing? How did Jaycee live through it? The book, the story, and the woman who survived it are haunting.
I admire her remarkable uncrushable spirit. There is not an ounce of bitterness in the book, only the simple facts, and her story told in a straightforward way. She has my admiration, compassion, and very, very best wishes that life will be kind to her in future. And I think it is wonderful that she had the courage to write the book. It will help others not give up hope, in less daunting circumstances, and is a tribute to her as a survivor.
I wanted to share this remarkable book with you. It is horrifying that things like this happen, even more so, that her captor was on parole, parole agents came to the house regularly to check on him, and never discovered the secret backyard where she and her daughters were hidden, and she was often handcuffed, locked in a small hut, and existed for 18 years. May something like this never, ever happen again.