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What Jaycee can learn from other women like her

Her case is rare, but not unprecedented. Other women who have endured similar ordeals suggest that she must do her best to look forward.

By Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / August 30, 2009



For the first time in 18 years, Jaycee Lee Dugard now has the opportunity to decide what she would like to do with her own life.

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And it is this thought, perhaps more than any other, that will help her move beyond the scenes of her captivity, say some of the few women who have gone through similar ordeals.

"I would just encourage her to find different passions in life and continually push forward and learn more and reach more for them, and not to look behind," Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted in 2002 at age 14 and held for nine months, said on CNN's "AC360."

Ms. Dugard was discovered this week 18 years after being abducted from South Lake Tahoe, as an 11-year-old. During that time, Dugard was kept in the secret backyard compound of Phillip Garrido of Antioch, Calif and had two children with Mr. Garrido, according to police. Mr. Garrido has pleaded not guilty to 28 charges of abducting and sexually abusing her.

She is now beginning to process of reintegrating with her family, though her stepfather says she continues to see Garrido as something like a husband.

It is not unusual that such bonds formed during captivity – even under conditions as despicable as Dugard was forced to endure. Austrian Natascha Kampusch, was held captive for more than eight years after being kidnapped at age 10.

Though she was often locked in a soundproof room beneath her captor's garage, she reportedly cried when he committed suicide after she escaped. She lit a candle for him at his funeral.

"He has been a big part of my life and as a result I do feel I am in a sort of mourning for him," she said in a statement short after she gained her freedom in August 2006.

In that same statement, however, she stated categorically that she did not wish to relive the events of her captivity publicly.

"First of all I want to let you know that I don't want and will not answer any questions about personal or intimate details. I will act against those who overstep personal boundaries towards voyeurism," she said.

Likewise, Elisabeth Fritzl, the Austrian woman who bore her father seven children during 24 years of captivity in her family's basement, has made no public statements.

Austrian media reports, however, suggest that Ms. Fritzl has begun dating the bodyguard assigned to protect her – a development seen as so positive by the psychologists treating her that they have lessened her treatments.

In recent months she has also taken and passed her driver's test for the first time.

For her part, Ms. Kampusch's struggle to adjust to life after captivity has been much more public and problematic.

For a time, she hosted a talk show on Austrian TV and was linked to a prince as well as her lawyer's son, with whom she was photographed at a nightclub. But she has since largely withdrawn from public life. Media reports suggest that on weekends she still returns to the house where she was held captive, which she now owns.

She told The Guardian, a British newspaper: "I've felt my whole life long that I'm watching the trailers, and I'm just hoping that the film's about to begin."

Ms. Smart is working to make sure that happens for herself. She is at Brigham Young University, where she is a music major. "[I] love being alive, I love being here, I'm excited for my life ahead of me," she told ABC News.

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