Jaycee Lee Dugard now helps victims of trauma through her non-profit, JAYC Foundation.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on July 2, 2021. It has since been updated.
Trigger warning: This story contains details on terminal illness, grief, and sexual abuse that might be disturbing to some readers.
Jaycee Lee Dugard's life turned upside down when she least expected it. She was abducted as a teenager and lived 18 years in captivity, undergoing things one would never want to imagine.
According to ABC10, Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped at the age of 11 by Philip Garrido and his wife Nancy Garrido as she walked to the bus stop in South Lake Tahoe. She was then imprisoned in their backyard in Antioch, California, for years.
Since her kidnapping on June 10, 1991, Dugard endured numerous hardships at the hands of her kidnappers, who failed to show her any mercy. She was raped repeatedly and forced to give birth to two children without any medical assistance. Her first daughter was born when she was just 14 years old and her second daughter was born when she was 17.
Though the news became a major headline and authorities continued to search for Dugard, they could not solve the mystery behind her missing.
Luckily, her nightmare came to an end in August 2009. As per Denver Post, Dugard along with her two girls and the captors had gone to meet Philip's parole officer. At the time, Dugard informed the officer that she was the girl who was reported missing in 1991.
Soon after, the couple was arrested and taken into custody. For Dugard, the arrest of the cruel couple meant freedom, something she hadn't experienced in decades. Officer Todd Stroud, who interviewed Dugard's daughters, recalled the events and stated, "I was shocked. I spent some time talking with them, getting them some food, and trying my best to make them feel a little more at ease. I then met with Jaycee. I reassured her that her daughters were okay and being taken care of.”
Visuals for episode #49 // Jaycee Lee Dugard— Going West Podcast (@goingwestpod) December 18, 2019
Available NOW! pic.twitter.com/q87W4fSQhB
Shortly after, Dugard reunited with her mother Terri Probyn. “We heard the shout of her mother, ‘My baby!’ and then her arms were open. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house," recalled then-police chaplain Tim Grayson.
The reunion was followed by a long investigation that found the couple guilty. Philip and Nancy were sentenced to 431 years to life and 36 years to life in prison respectively.
Meanwhile, Dugard went on to dream of a better and bright future. “In the backyard prison Phillip and Nancy Garrido created, I didn’t really think too much about the next day, let alone the future,” recounted Dugard. She added, "Just getting through the day was what was important to me. When we were rescued, and I started therapy, it was a combo of past, present, and future that I thought about. Nowadays, it’s a lot more future.”
Today, the courageous woman runs a nonprofit called the JAYC Foundation for trauma victims. Inspired from her horrific past, Dugard's Foundation provides victims with safe spaces to recover. The non-profit also equips caregivers to support the victims.
June 10, 1991, started off as an ordinary day. 11-year-old Jaycee Dugard was walking to her bus stop in Meyers, California to take her to school. That was the last time anyone saw her, for 18 years. This is the complete story of Jaycee Lee Dugard https://t.co/k2AIb8zrzT pic.twitter.com/Fs7bpyoIUq— Fresh Edits (@Fresh_Edits_) June 15, 2021
Dugard documented her horrendous experiences in her first memoir A Stolen Life. She stated, "What happened to me will always be a part of who I am, but I don’t let that be the only thing that makes me who I am."
She added, "I don’t let those experiences or those people, meaning Phillip and Nancy, define the relationships in my life now. When I do have something from the past pop into my head, I don’t shy away from it either, it’s important for me to acknowledge that thought or feeling and figure it out.”
Through her memoir, she also criticized the state's parole system and its agents for failing to thoroughly evaluate Philip, who was imprisoned earlier for kidnapping and rape. Recognizing the lapses, Dugard was paid $20 million in settlement for failing to find her sooner.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photos by (L) Andrew H. Walker / Staff, (R) El Dorado County Sheriff via Getty Images