Jaycee Dugard: Three Answered Questions On Everyone’s Mind

This past week the breaking news headline was: Jaycee Dugard Discovered After 18 Years with convicted rapist Phillip Garrido. This was a shock not only to anyone who heard the story, but also to her family.In the Jaycee Dugard case, as well as with Elizabeth Smart and Shawn Hornbeck cases, there are three common questions that people ask:

1) How does Jaycee Dugard reunite with her family?

One of the main things that has to be considered before starting the process of reuniting is that it needs to take place over a period of time and it needs to be done with sensitivity…meaning that she is no longer the 11 year old girl that her parents last knew her to be.There is an entire part of her life that she may not want to talk about for a long time. She also now has two daughters of her own, who are very limited in what they know.Therefore, reuniting should be as stress- free and low-key as possible. Jaycee and her daughters will need to be allowed to process the shock with taking in this new reality.

Watch Video below: Total Life Counseling’s Janie Lacy, MS, answers the 3 Questions on NBC’s WESH 2 News

2) Why Jaycee Dugard did not try to escape Phillip Garrido?

There are a variety of reasons why a person does not try to escape their captor. One main reason is what we call “learned helplessness.” We can only speculate in the Jaycee Dugard case, but in research studies whether the threat is actual or perceived when the person thinks of escaping, they may suffer from a negative effect.Therefore, the feelings of having no control can take over a person’s senses and that feeling of powerlessness kicks in a survival response.In the research, we also look at something called “traumatic bonding.”What this means is the kidnapped victim potentially can develop an emotional response that is related to his or her powerlessness in a life-threatening situation. This can explain why the individual may seem immobilized and unable or unwilling to attempt an escape.

3) Can Jaycee Dugard have a normal life again?

One of the most recognized stories of a kidnapped person returning to a normal life is the story of Elizabeth Smart.She was found nine months after she was taken from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah and now lives a normal life as a university student and political activist. Therefore, a kidnapped person can have a normal life again with the right support system and healthy coping mechanisms to get them moving in the right direction.

The cases of Jaycee Dugard, Elizabeth Smart and Shawn Hornbeck all can provide hope to other parents of missing children that one day they can be found.There is no doubt that not all cases result in happy endings; such was the case with Adam Walsh and Megan Kanka. However, as a result of the tragic loss of their lives, we have “Megan’s Law” which requires all sex offenders to register when they move to a new neighborhood and we have America’s Most Wanted, whose host John Walsh is passionate about helping put criminals behind bars. For More on this story go to WESH 2 NBC News.

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Author: Janie Lacy, MS