Jaycee Lee Dugard has been a free woman for nearly a decade now, having been rescued from captivity in 2009. These days, she’s still advocating for kidnapping survivors, turning her personal trauma into change for others who’ve endured similar trauma.
Now 37, Jaycee is active on Twitter, but the last time she spoke at length about her 18-year ordeal seems to have been in a 2016 interview with ABC News — which marked the third time she talked to Diane Sawyer since her rescue. At the time, she told Diane she wouldn’t forbid her two daughters — who are both in their 20s now — from seeing their father, Phillip Garrido, Jaycee’s captor and rapist. He was sentenced to a 431-year prison sentence; his wife, Nancy, received 36 years to life.
“I want them to make their own choices in life, and if that’s something that they need to do, then you know I’d… I wouldn’t be OK with it,” Jaycee said of her daughters. “But I wouldn’t not let them do it.”
In fact, she tries not to let her experience limit any of her kids’ interactions with the outside world. “Do we scare our kids into never wanting to do anything, or do we prepare them for the worst in life, never knowing if, you know, if it’s really going to happen?” she said.
Jaycee also called her daughters “resilient” and “beautiful and loving” and said they try to find the humor in their challenging life. “To know it was OK to laugh about, you know, Phillip and Nancy and their… craziness… it helps,” she told Diane.
In the years since her rescue, Jaycee has authored two memoirs — A Stolen Life and Freedom: My Book of Firsts — and founded the JAYC Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a mission to “be of service to families that have suffered a familial or non-familial abduction or other trauma.”
She praised her daughters’ resilience, but we praise hers, too. It would have been understandable if she had wanted to stay out of the spotlight entirely, but she’s actively choosing to raise awareness for cases like hers. More power to her!