A Stolen Life, p.1Jaycee Dugard
Simon & Schuster
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Copyright © 2011 by Luna Lee, Inc.
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First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition July 2011
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Designed by Joy O’Meara
Manufactured in the United States of America
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Dugard, Jaycee Lee, 1980-
A stolen life : a memoir / Jaycee Lee Dugard. — 1st ed.
1. Dugard, Jaycee Lee, 1980—Kidnapping, 1991. 2. Kidnapping victims—California—Biography. 3. Kidnapping—California. 4. Sexually abused children—California—Biography. I. Title.
ISBN 978-1-4516-2920-0 (ebook)
Dedicated to my daughters.
For the times we’ve cried together,
And all the times in between.
The Secret Backyard
Alone in a Strange Place
The First Time
The First “Run”
Easter: Phillip on an Island
Learning I Was Pregnant
Driving to a Trailer
Waiting for Baby
Taking Care of a Baby
The Starting of Printing for Less
Birth of Second Baby
Raising the Girls in the Backyard
Nancy Becomes “Mom”
Pretending to Be a Family
Discovery and Reunion
Firsts for Me
The Difficult Parts of Life
Finding Old Friends
Meeting with Nancy
Therapeutic Healing with a Twist
This book might be confusing to some. But keep in mind throughout my book that this was a very confusing world I lived in. I think to truly begin to understand what it was like, you would have had to be there, and since I wish that on no one, this book is my attempt to convey the overwhelming confusion I felt during those years and to begin to unravel the damage that was done to me and my family.
You might be suddenly reading about a character that was never introduced, but that’s how it was for me. It didn’t feel like a sequence of events. Even after I was freed, moments are fragmented and jumbled. With some help, I have come to realize that my perspective is unique to abduction. I don’t want to lose that voice, and therefore I have written this book how it came to me naturally. I’m not the average storyteller … I’m me … and my experience is very uncommon. Yes, I jump around with tangents, but that’s sometimes the way my mind works. If you want a less confusing story, come back to me in ten years from now when I sort it all out!
Jacyee Lee Dugard, age eleven
Let’s get one thing straight! My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I was kidnapped by a stranger at age eleven. For eighteen years I was kept in a backyard and not allowed to say my own name. What follows will be my personal story of how one fateful day in June of 1991 changed my life forever.
I decided to write this book for two reasons. One reason is that Phillip Garrido believes no one should find out what he did to an eleven-year-old girl … me. He also believes he is not responsible for his actions. I believe differently. I believe that everyone should know exactly what he and his wife Nancy were doing all these years in their backyard. I believe I shouldn’t be ashamed for what happened to me, and I want Phillip Garrido to know that I no longer have to keep his secret. And that he is most certainly responsible for stealing my life and the life I should have had with my family.
I’m also writing my story in the hopes that it will be of help to someone going through, hopefully not similar conditions, but someone facing a difficult situation of their own—whatever that may be. It’s easy for people to be horrified and shocked when someone is abducted, but what about all the other adults and kids living in sad homes? My goal is to inspire people to speak out when they see that something is not quite right around them. We live in a world where we rarely speak out and when someone does, often nobody is there to listen. My hope is that society changes in regards to how we treat someone who speaks out. I know I am not the only child to be hurt by a crazy adult. I am sure there are still the families that look great on the outside, but if someone were to delve deeper they would discover horrors beyond belief.
For many, it is so much easier to live in a self-made “backyard” that it can be tough and scary to venture out and leave that comfort zone behind. It is so worth it, though. You could be saving a person or a family who is not able to save themselves.
Take my case, for example: two Berkeley cops saw something amiss and spoke up about it. Even if they would have been wrong, they still did the right thing by speaking up. I will forever be grateful to them for doing the thing that I could not do for myself.
Back then, it was a struggle to get through a day, but now I look forward to each day and the next to come. After eighteen years of living with tremendous stress, cruelty, loneliness, repetition, and boredom, each day now brings a new challenge and learning experience to look forward to.
With my writings, I hope to convey that you can endure tough situations and survive. Not just survive, but be okay even on the inside, too. I’m not sure how I did endure all that I did. I ask myself less and less every day. I used to think maybe the one reading this would find the answer for me, but I am beginning to think that I have secretly known all along.
Ask yourself, “What would you do to survive?”
Me, J-A-Y-C-E-E, age two
My situation was unique, and I can’t begin to imagine what others are going through in their daily lives. You can survive tough situations is all I can say. I did. History has taught us that even when it looks like there is no hope, hope still lives in people’s hearts.
T. S. Eliot once wrote, “I said to my soul be still, and wait without hope; for hope would be hope for the wrong thing.”
My trust and hope were indeed put in the wrong person(s), but nevertheless it still lived.
I am so lucky and blessed for all the wonderful things that I do have. Life is too short to think about all the things you don’t have. I had my girls to give me strength and my cats to keep me warm at night and, perhaps deep inside, the dim hope of seeing my mom again. Even if it is just one thing or person you have to be thankful for, that is enough. Yes, I do believe I’m lucky. I could not have gotten through my ordeal without believing that someday my life would make sense. Life’s adventure is important. It is important to live each day to its fullest, whatever life brings you.
It is an ordinary Monday morning school day. I have woken up early this morning of June 10th, 1991. I am waiting for my mom to come in my room before she goes to work to kiss me good-bye. I made a point the night before to remind her to kiss me good-bye.
As I lay in bed waiting, I hear the front door close. She has left. She has forgotten. I guess there is always tonight when she gets home from work to give her a kiss and hug. I’m going to remind her that she forgot this morning, though. I lay in bed for a while until my alarm tells me it’s time to get up. I wait another five minutes and then push myself out of bed. I notice that the ring that I had bought the day before at the craft fair is missing. Darn! I really wanted to wear it to school today. I search my bed to no avail. If I waste any more time, I will be late for the bus and then Carl, my stepdad, will be mad at me and then I would have to ask him for a ride to school. He already thinks I mess everything up; I don’t want to give him another excuse not to like me. Sometimes I feel like he is just waiting for another reason to send me away again.
I abandon my search and decide to wear the ring my mom gave me four years ago for my seventh birthday, before she met Carl. My eleven-year-old finger is getting too big for it now, so I don’t wear it often. It is made of silver, very tiny and delicate, in the shape of a butterfly to match the birthmark on my right forearm that’s almost level with my elbow on the inside of my arm. The ring also has a teeny tiny diamond in the center of the butterfly. I try to slip it on, but it feels tight on the finger I used to wear it on, so I try it on my pinkie and it feels better. I finish dressing. I decide to wear my pink stretch pants and my favorite kitty shirt. It looks cold outside, so I throw on my pink windbreaker. Then I go across the hall to peek in to my baby sister’s room. Last night my mom was folding laundry in the baby’s room and I was sort of helping as I laid on the bed. I used the time to try to convince my mom how much I needed a dog; I guess I was a little annoying. Because she just kept repeating the word “No” over and over again. It’s just I really, really want my own dog. There are puppies down the street from us, and every chance I get I go down there and pet them through the fence. I don’t know why I can’t have one. The other day I had to write a paper in school about “If I had one wish.” I wished for my own dog. I would name it Buddy, and he would follow me everywhere and do tricks and love me the most. I really hope my mom will let me have a dog one day.
I showed my eighteen-month-old sister a new trick last night, too. I showed her how to jump up and down in her crib really high. It made her laugh so hard. I love making her laugh. She is almost ready to start climbing out of her crib, I think. I peek in and I see she is still sleeping, so I creep out quietly.
I feel a little queasy this morning and briefly consider telling Carl, my stepdad, that I feel sick and can’t go to school today but change my mind to avoid an argument. The truth is I really don’t want to stay home all day with him anyway. I look forward to going to school most days because it gives me time away from all of his criticism. Maybe eating some breakfast will make my tummy feel better. I go to the kitchen to make my lunch and breakfast. I decide on instant oatmeal, peaches and cream flavor. The microwave clock reads 6:30. I know I must start up the hill soon in order to catch the bus. I eat my oatmeal quickly. I’m glad Carl isn’t in here watching me scarf down my oatmeal. He already thinks my table manners are atrocious and takes every opportunity to let me know what he thinks.
One time he didn’t like the way I was eating my dinner, so he made me go sit in the bathroom in front of the mirror and watch myself eat. I don’t think I’d ever make my kid do that if it was me. I just don’t understand why he doesn’t like me. I make a PB&J for my lunch, throw in an apple and juice box, and check one more time to see if Shayna is awake yet, but she is not, so I must leave without telling her good-bye. I haven’t seen Carl all morning. I think he must be outside because he is not inside like he usually is, watching TV. I see my cat, Monkey, outside on the deck. My grandma Ninny gave him to me before we left for Tahoe. Monkey is a black Manx, which means he has no tail. When we got him I wanted to name him Sapphire because he had the bluest eyes, but Carl thought it was a stupid name and just started to call him Monkey. At first it really made me mad, and I called him Sapphire every chance I got, but as Monkey has grown, the name Sapphire really doesn’t suit him, and now I call him Monkey, too. It’s funny how you can get used to things. Monkey mostly stays outside, but I let him in at night and he sleeps with me. I don’t like to leave him outside at night because my mom’s cat Bridget was eaten by a wild animal after we moved up here to Tahoe. It was awful; we had been looking for her for days and I finally found what was left of her, which was nothing more than a pile of fur. It was really sad. Monkey must have been separated from his mom at a young age because he loves to nurse on my fuzzy blanket. I think he thinks I’m his mom.
Me, Monkey, and Bugsy
I go outside on the deck and give him a pet hello, he meows for food, so I give him a little handful of cat food. I have also brought out a carrot for Bugsy, the black-and-white dwarf rabbit that’s not so little. Carl had Bugsy when I met him a few years ago. I think the cutest thing about Bugsy is his love of grape-flavored popsicles. It is my job to clean his cage, which is not my favorite thing to do. He really poops a lot. I read in a book once that rabbits eat one poop a night. It’s funny how sometimes animals do things that don’t make sense to people, but I think they must have a good reason for doing it; I just can’t figure out what that may be.
Tahoe house in winter
I make my way out the front door, down the long walkway to the stairs. Our house in Tahoe reminds me of a ski cabin. It is located at the bottom of a hill. We have lived here since September of last year. We used to live in Orange County. We had a break-in at the apartment we were living in and my mom and Carl thought it would be safer if we moved to Tahoe. We live in a much smaller town now.
I grew up in Anaheim, California. I’ve always thought that when we moved in with Carl, he convinced my mom that it was time that I started walking to school by myself because I had never done it before. I don’t think my mom liked the idea very much, but she couldn’t be there to drive me in the morning because she had to go to work early, so that left Carl to take me and sometimes he would and sometimes he wouldn’t be there, so I had to walk. They gave me a key to the apartment we lived in at the time, and that was the first year I walked home from school by myself.
One time as I was walking home from Lampson Elementary where I went to fourth grade, a car with a group of guys in it started shouting at me and gesturing for me to come over. I started running and hid in a bush until the car passed, then I ran home as fast as I could and locked the door behind me. I was scared to walk home after that and did it as fast as I could. Sometimes my mom or Carl would pick me up from school. I liked those days. Tahoe feels nothing like Anaheim. I can ride my bike anywhere and I don’t feel afraid here.
There is a neighborhood dog named Ninja that comes over and walks up the hill with me some mornings. I want a dog of my own so badly, one that would walk up that hill with me every morning and then be there to greet me when I come home from school. Ninja the dog really prefers Carl over me, though, and usually only waits for him and goes on walks with him on the weekends.
This morning I was so hoping that Ninja would come and walk with me, but as I head out, there is no sign of her anywhere. As I leave the house for school, I yell to Carl that I am on my way up the hill. I don’t see him or hear him answer, but see that he has his van out of the garage, so he must be working on it. I start out on the right side of the hill and then when it starts to curve, I switch to the other side. I have one more week of school left, then summer vacation starts. I have made plans with my friend Shawnee from school to work at a dude ranch. She loves horses and sometimes she draws them for me. I love the way she draws horses. She has taken me on a trail ri
When I lived in Orange County I was in a jazz class. I really didn’t enjoy going that much. I really wanted to take ballet, but when my mom went to sign me up, the class for ballet was full and so we went for jazz. I’m really shy, and performing in front of people is not a strong suit with me. We moved to Tahoe right before my final recital. Thank goodness. I think I would have messed up if I had to perform in front of an audience. And wearing a leotard was not my cup of tea either.
When we moved to Tahoe after school started I joined a Girl Scout troop. Again, not my idea. It’s hard to make friends, but some of the girls are also in my class, so that makes it easier. I just wish I wasn’t so shy sometimes. I usually hang out with Shawnee, although she is not in my troop. But the girls are all nice and I like when we make things and sell cookies together. I am not good at going up to strangers’ doors and asking them if they want to buy some Girl Scout cookies, but I am very good at eating Girl Scout cookies. My favorites are Samoas and Thin Mints. When it’s my turn to go up to the door and sell, I knock on the door and let my partner do the talking. Will I ever get over my shyness? We have a class field trip to a water park coming up the last week of school. I want to go and have fun, but my body is changing and I’m self-conscious. I tried the other night to talk to my mom about shaving my armpits and my legs. I am embarrassed to be seen with all that hair. But I didn’t know how to start that conversation. Need to think of something soon; the trip is only a few days away.
A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes