A Stolen Life, by Jaycee Dugard

Jaycee DugardPhillip Garrido, the low-life who kidnapped eleven-year-old Jaycee Dugard and held her prisoner for 18 years, was sentenced to 431 years in prison for his unspeakable crimes.  Nancy, his wife, got 36 years.  A Stolen Life, written by Jaycee Dugard, is the story of what happened during those terrible years, Jaycee’s rescue, and her attempt to put her life back together again.

Though Garrido was in therapy during all that time, none of his psychiatrists, psychologists, or therapists, ever saw the evil in this man.  None grasped the depths of depravity to which he had sunk.   Parole officers never imagined the crimes he was committing on an ongoing basis.  No one ever suspected he had kidnapped a little girl, was holding her in his back yard, and sexually abusing her at will.

Various law enforcement officials visited the house where Garrido lived, but none bothered to look in the back yard.  No one wondered why a man on parole would build such a shelter.  None asked who might be living in the shelter.  When Garrido tested “dirty” for drugs, they accepted his explanation:  he’d been to a party and someone must have spiked his drink.  Despite his long history of drug abuse, they accepted this bogus story.   Even Jaycee wondered how they could be so gullible.

For 18 years Phillip Garrido got away with it.  Angels helped him, he said.

As Jaycee points out in this book that will break your heart, Garrido never did anything for anyone but himself.  “Phillip is narcissistic and only does things that benefit him,” she says.  “Therapy did nothing to help him.”

She’s forgiven him for what he did, yet at one point in the book she wonders.  “I’m not sure I have the right to forgive him.”

It’s a difficult book to read.   But if you can get through the horrific parts, what you see is an amazing girl.  She’s smart, she’s accomplished, she’s no fool.  She’s a survivor, this girl, now grown to womanhood.

Jaycee didn’t attend Garrido’s sentencing, but she sent a message:  “There is no God in the universe that would condone your actions. To you, Phillip, I say that I have always been a thing for your own amusement.  I hated every second of every day of 18 years because of you and the sexual perversion you forced on me.”

Jaycee Dugard is okay now.  She’s been reunited with her family, and her children are doing fine.  She’s made new friends and is learning how to negotiate the world that was kept from her for so long.  The evil man who kidnapped her and his equally evil wife no longer matter to her.


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