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September 1st, 2009

Jaycee’s Long Road Home

Back in January 2007, I wrote a post asking the press and ignorant people to Leave Shawn Hornbeck Alone.  Sadly, I am here again, about to make the same impassioned plea for beleagured Jaycee Lee Dugard.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last week, you know that Jaycee was the 11 year-old girl snatched near her South Lake Tahoe, CA home 18 long years ago by sex offender and all-around nut-job, Phillip Garrido, and his automaton wife, Nancy Garrido.  Phillip forced Jaycee to live in a "compound" hidden in his backyard that consisted of tents and lean-tos.  He raped the little girl, and she gave birth to two daughters - now 15 and 11 - in those squalid conditions.  None of them have ever been to a doctor and most people have said they are ashen pale and act like robots, bright blue eyes just staring listlessly.  The children, Starlet and Angel, have never been schooled and Garrido proudly announced they were "raised right" with no television - and no link to the outside world; their lives have been completely sheltered.

Carl Probyn, Jaycee's stepfather, who witnessed the abduction and was considered a suspect in early investigations, told the media that Jaycee - once reunited with her mother, expressed shame and guilt about "bonding" with Garrido.  She shouldn't - as it would be, as often is in these cases of long-term kidnappings, a classic case of Stockholm Syndrome.  What is truly sad is that there are people out there - many people - who feel that Jaycee did something wrong in not attempting to "escape" her attacker's clutches sooner.  Blaming Jaycee is absolutely putting blame in the wrong place - it lies squarely with the Garridos and nowhere else.  Identifying with, and even becoming close to, your attacker is common in hostage situations.  Jaycee was just an 11 year-old girl; the terror she must have felt being kidnapped and raped by this man we cannot even begin to comprehend.  We do not know what he did to her, or how he punished her if she disobeyed him or tried to escape or scream for help.  We do not know what her mind went through it or how it had to adapt to cope and survive.

We can't say, "Well, I would have tried to escape," because we can never put ourselves in such a horrible situation.  We do not know what it is like to suffer through something so traumatic and terrifying; especially to the mind of a scared and sexually-abused child.  We have no right to judge Jaycee.  All of our condemnations and indignation should be at Phillip Garrido and his weak-willed wife who did nothing to stop him or report his actions (though she, too, was obviously a victim of some sort to this manipulative madman).  If you have ire, direct it at the one person who deserves it - Phillip Garrido.  Jaycee Lee Dugard is completely innocent of any wrong-doing and to say she "preferred it there" or "didn't want to be found" or any of the other ignorant, ridiculous comments I have heard people make (the same type of comments that were made about Shawn Hornbeck) is nothing short of outrageous.  This young woman is about to start on a long road of healing, and she does not need to hear stories in the media - or people like Bill Reilly who claimed Hornbeck preferred living with his captor - accusing her of doing anything wrong.  She didn't.  The psychological nightmare that caused her to bond with her captor was one borne of survival instincts.  Until you can walk a mile in her shoes, do not judge her.

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