In 1991, Jaycee Dugard, then just 11 years old, was abducted by Phillip and Nancy Garrido. For the next 18 years, Dugard lived in captivity, confined to the backyard of the depraved couple’s California home. Two years into her captivity, Dugard learned she was pregnant. At the age of 14, she gave birth to a daughter, fathered by Phillip Garrido — her rapist. Garrido gave her codeine while she was in labor and forced her to give birth in the backyard prison where she was kept, handling the delivery himself. There wasn’t a doctor in sight. In 1997, when Dugard gave birth to a second daughter fathered by Garrido, she was once again forced to deliver the baby in the backyard.
In 2011, Dugard described giving birth under those awful conditions as the most painful experience of her life. But upon seeing her baby daughters, she was overwhelmed with love and joy. Dugard did her best to raise her daughters and educated them — as much as she could with the fifth-grade education she had. Ultimately, she and her daughters were rescued in 2009, bringing an end to 18 years of physical and psychological torture.
On Tuesday, Dugard’s new memoir, Freedom: My book of firsts, hits bookstore shelves. In a promotional interview, her second since being rescued, Dugard sat down with Diane Sawyer of ABC News and talked candidly about adjusting to a free life and what she wants for her daughters, now both young adults. Dugard, 36, said she and her daughters frequently discuss the man who fathered them — she refers to him not as their dad, but simply “Phil” — and she said that if they want to see him some day, she wouldn’t get in their way.
“I want them to make their own choices in life, and if that’s something that they need to do, then you know …”
“You’d be OK with that?” Sawyer interjected.
“I wouldn’t be OK with it … but I wouldn’t not let them do it.” Of course, her daughters, whose identity Dugard is continuing to shield, would need to visit Garrido in prison where he’s serving a 431-year sentence if they were interested in connecting with him.
Dugard’s mother, Terry Probyn, struggled with the question, silently shaking her head when Sawyer asked her, and finally saying,”It’s their decision.” After a pause, Probyn added, “I would hope they would choose not to.”
Dugard now marvels at the fact that she even survived the unthinkable ordeal. “I can’t fathom how I kept it together or, you know, I must’ve been checked out, you know, on a different level,” she told ABC News. “You know, [I was] present, but not present for, you know, some of it, because it’s terrifying on its own. But being alone, how did I even do that?” Watch an excerpt of her interview with Sawyer below.
Read the full story at ABC News.