Young Heroes

Jaycee Dugard

by Tori Eisenberg from San Diego, California in United States

“Ask yourself, "what would you do to survive?” 
― Jaycee Dugard

Jaycee Dugard: Hero Project

A little girl walking to her school bus was kidnapped.  Eighteen years of her life were taken from her. She would never be the same.  However, she was a hero and did whatever it took to survive. “Ask yourself, "what would you do to survive?” ― Jaycee Dugard.

Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped on June 10, 1991 for 18 years of her life dealing with beating, sexual assault and so much more. She was a girl walking to the school bus just like any of us.  She was taken captive by a sex offender. She was a prisoner for 18 years. She had no choice but to survive sexual abuse.  She eventually gave birth to two children in a hidden backyard jail. This was Jaycee Lee Dugard. On June 10th, 1991, she walked up the little hill in front of her house in Lake Tahoe, California to catch the school bus.  When she reached the road a grey car pulled up. A stranger rolled down the window and his hand shot out. He shocked her with a stun gun. Jaycee had no idea that she would spend the next 18 years in a backyard prison. A hero must possess inner strength and resilience.  Little did Jaycee know how much inner strength she would need. She was somehow able to survive the harsh environment of 18 years of abuse. Through all the difficulties, Jaycee Dugard has been fearless and a survivor. She inspires other people to overcome their hardships. She had to remain so strong inside. She had to analyze her captor and stay alert.

Jaycee developed her inner strength over the years of imprisonment. She had to be fearless in how she adapted to her captor’s horrific behavior. A true hero, Jaycee’s strength allowed her to adapt to her tragedy.What Jaycee endured was pure terror. The lessons she learned during her captivity were about  transforming suffering into joy every single day. She found the smallest bits of joy in the midst of horrible circumstances. She had to find resilience and peace from the tiniest of moments. The following quote is from her book, A Stolen Life. “I don’t believe in hate. To me it wastes too much time. People who hate waste so much of their life hating that they miss out on on all the other stuff out there.” (Duggard). A hero is strong not only during good days.  They have to find strength during bad days. Jaycee had horrible days. She had eighteen years of bad days. Somehow, she was able to face the fear and adapt. She learned how to transform her fear into smart behaviors that would help her survival. She had to do what her captor wanted. She had to make him believe she understood his madness. This was smart because he believed that by keeping her prisoner, he was helping himself. Once she knew she could not escape, Jaycee had to transform her fear into strategies for living through the nightmare.Jaycee would spend a lot of time thinking of her mother. It got her through the long nights. She would remember debating her mom about which phases of the moon were better. By focusing on even the smallest details of her home life, she remained connected to that strong part of herself. “Even if it is just one thing or person you have to be grateful for, that is enough.” (Duggard).A hero doesn’t give up. Jaycee had to be obedient or she would suffer more.  She endured forced submission for 18 years. All of her basic choices were taken away. After her rescue, she had to learn the basics of becoming herself again. She had to learn how one makes choices. She had to learn ordinary interactions like buying something in a store. I take for granted how easy it feels to go out in crowds. For Jaycee, crowds are still extremely challenging. She prefers not to be in large crowds. For a hero, the hardest thing to conquer is the terror inside. Jaycee has to be a hero every day to deal with simple strangers and what strangers are sometimes capable of.The fearlessness Jaycee showed to learn and adapt to her circumstances is unlike anything I’ve encountered. If she could survive that, I can easily survive the ups and downs of my life.

Jaycee is a true survivor. Not only does she continue to work on herself, she is helping others who have gone through severe trauma. She survived 24-hour marathons of sexual abuse. She had to study her captor’s rages and his demands. She had stay alert and try to understand these behaviors. She’s using her horrible experience to help others. She testified in court about what happened.  “He said the plea deal was possible only because Dugard, now 30, was willing to testify about her experiences in captivity.” (Gale). Jaycee is on a mission today to change the way people talk about victims of abduction. Survivors of abduction are not used to having any choice. They have to be given choices in every single thing they do after they are rescued. Jaycee goes to a ranch where animals are used to help victims of trauma. Survivors learn their own strengths.  She learned to control a horse ten times her size and physical power. She learned to move in silence and the horse responds by walking behind her. When she runs the horse follows. I also have learned a great deal about inner strength from working with horses. Jaycee is helping others overcome tragedy. “It makes all I went through seem insignificant and boils it down to 'You loved your captor, therefore, you never wanted to be free' or somehow you were stupid enough to confuse abuse with love” (Duggard). Jaycee hates the phrase "Stockholm Syndrome".  She did not want her family believing that she wanted to stay with this captor. She speaks to experts working with survivors of kidnapping. She wants these experts to never to use the phrase Stockholm Syndrome again because it implies the victim wants to stay kidnapped and learns to like their captor. She reminds everyone what terror does to children and many children never make it back alive. She speaks to families who have survived a horrible experience and are reunited. These include kidnap victims and military families who have been separated. Jaycee’s heroism reaches around the world and she inspires others to be strong despite horrible situations.

Jaycee's strength in the face of fear allowed her to survive. Jaycee Dugard’s story changed my life. She is a true hero. She seems happy today. She turned what she went through into a chance to help others. She’s a hero who helps others transform their suffering into joy. She does this every single day of her life. Jaycee inspired me to always look on the positive side of any situation. She showed me that a true hero is strong even in the worst of circumstances. Jaycee went through more horror than anyone human should ever have to. She had to learn life's toughest lessons at age 11. She’s a true hero because she inspires others to not just survive.  She inspires others to thrive.


Page created on 1/30/2019 10:58:26 PM

Last edited 5/16/2019 4:44:25 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Jaycee D - Link