Why Jaycee Dugard Stayed
Experts explain to Betty Confidential why the kidnap victim stayed for 18 years with the man who stole her from her family
The case of Jaycee Dugard, the kidnap victim who was held by her captor for 18 years, has drawn worldwide attention for the length of her imprisonment and for the fact that she has had two children with the man who shut her off from everything she knew. Paul Garrido, 58, and his wife Nancy, 54, have been arrested for the crime.
But why didn’t Jaycee, held in a backyard compound in California between the ages of 11 and 29, simply climb over the wall and run away? The answer to that question lies in the complicated, ambiguous relationship that forms between kidnapper and victim, experts say.
As hard as it might be for outsiders to believe, the kidnapper in a case like Jaycee’s in all likelihood eventually becomes “a kind of family for her,” Paula Fass, Ph.D., Margaret Byrne Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley, tells Betty Confidential. Police have said that Jaycee was forced to live in a rudimentary collection of sheds and tents in Garrido’s backyard in Antioch, Calif., where conditions were similar to a campsite. Even though she was locked in a soundproof shed for periods of time, in Jaycee’s view, Fass says, “[Garrido] provided her with food and caretaking … He didn’t kill her.”
Fass also points to Jaycee’s age in explaining how Garrido came to have such power over her. “This was a young girl, 11 years old, who no doubt was told she was no longer wanted by her family,” says Fass, author of Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America. And according to former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt, “a kidnap victim is told that if she tries to escape,” she’ll be killed. In addition, he said, kidnappers threaten to kill the child’s family or a pet. “I don’t think any of us can understand the trauma that this little girl went [through],” Van Zandt said on the Today Show. To further narrow her view, Jaycee was kept from anything like radio or TV that would tell her what was going on the world.