Kidnap victim Dugard says why she couldn't escape

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 11, 2011 1:59 PM
Kidnap victim Dugard says why she couldn't escape

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. woman who was kidnapped at the age of 11 and kept in captivity for 18 years where she was raped, handcuffed and gave birth to two girls said she could not dream of escaping because she was so badly manipulated.

"I've asked myself that question many times. I know there was no leaving. The mind manipulation plus the physical abuse I suffered in the beginning, there was no leaving," Jaycee Dugard, now 31, told ABC television in an interview ahead of her memoir "A Stolen Life," due to be released on Tuesday.

Dugard was rescued in northern California along with her two daughters in 2009, when her kidnapper and convicted sex offender Phillip Garrido aroused suspicion while on campus at a northern California university.

Dugard has since been reunited with the family that lost her in 1991 and lives with her mother and the two children Garrido fathered with Dugard when she was a teenager.

She told ABC in Sunday's interview how she survived the ordeal where she was initially raped with the threat of a stun gun -- which was also used to kidnap her off the side of a road -- until it and the use of handcuffs were no longer needed to keep her from fleeing.

"There's a switch that I had to shut off," she said. "I mean, I can't imagine being beaten to death, you know? And you can't imagine being kidnapped and raped, you know? So, it's just, you just do what you have to do to survive."

Almost 15 million U.S, viewers watched the ABC interview, making it the most-watched TV program of the night, according to ratings data on Monday.

Dugard's fears of escaping included being told that outside their compound was unsafe, full of pedophiles and rapists and Dugard said she feared for the safety of her daughters. After their birth they had made her feel like "I wasn't alone anymore."

Garrido was sentenced to life in prison last for kidnapping and multiple counts of sexual assault. His wife, Nancy, was sentenced to 36 years.

Her family have received a $20 million settlement through a state victims' compensation fund.

In the memoir Dugard writes how she never forgot about her mother, but it was often too painful to think about her. She did allow herself on her mother's birthday each year and referred to her in journals.

"You never left me," her mother Terry Probyn told Dugard during the ABC interview.

Dugard has written a full account of the ordeal in her book to show how to survive tragedy, to "stare it down until it can't scare you anymore" she told ABC's Diane Sawyer.

"I didn't want there to be any more secrets...I hadn't done anything wrong. It wasn't something I did that caused this to happen. And I feel that by putting it all out there, it's very freeing," Dugard said.

Dugard told Sawyer that she was not full of rage toward Garrido: "I refuse to let him have that. He can't have me."

(Reporting by Christine Kearney, Editing by Jill Serjeant)