by Melissa Brunner
The story was amazing enough when it happened. Jaycee Dugard, kidnapped at age 11, was found nearly two decades later. She'd been held captive in a backyard shed and given birth to two children fathered by her captor, but she was alive and coming home.
Hearing her tell the story herself was nothing short of amazing. Jaycee gave her first interview to Diane Sawyer of ABC News and it aired in a two-hour special Sunday night. I watched quite a bit of it. What struck me first was how normal Jaycee appears. Not that I expected her to have an abnormal appearance, but she was bright and articulate - and quick to smile! How great to see her smile after all she has been through.
Toward the end, ABC also did a segment on how often parole officers and other agents had been to the home. During 60 visits, they never discovered the secret in the backyard. In one instance, they reported, a sheriff's deputy was called to the home to investigate a complaint children were living in tents in the backyard. The deputy spoke with the Garridos at the door - but never went to the backyard, where the neighbor reported the concern.
Jaycee herself didn't place blame with anyone other than the Garridos, the people who took her. She said she was talking about the abuse so others would know it is not their shame - it is their abuser's. As for how she survived all those years, she says simply that she was alive. As long as she was alive, she said, there was hope.
Her strength is truly to be admired.