The story of Jaycee Dugard's kidnapping is not as unique as most people think.
While the world is still reeling from the recovery of Jaycee Dugard who has spent the last eleven years of her life as the kidnap victim of Philip Garrido, we all find ourselves asking, "How does this happen? How can a person be kidnapped and kept for so many years without someone learning the truth?"
As shocking as it may seem, there are many cases where children and even adults have been kidnapped, tortured, sexually abused, and recovered or escaped years later. Here are some of the people who were forced to endure the unthinkable and were recovered years later, their lives changed forever.
Lydia Gourido's story, while not exactly one of kidnapping, is one of imprisonment, rape, and torture. A life of abuse at the hands of her legal though not biological father that lasted 28 years from the time she was eight years, old until her father's death when she was 36.
In an interview with French Radio RTL in April, 2008, Gouaido told the story of how she was beaten, raped by her father while her mother stood by, and burned with acid when she tried escape.
How despite countless pregnancies and hospitalizations, teachers, doctors, and midwives stood by and did nothing to help her.
Upon hearing about the case of Elizabeth Fritzl she remarked that she would like to become friends with Elizabeth because then she could talk to someone who would understand and that she might be able to help the then-newly-released Elizabeth.
Natascha Kampusch was ten years old when she was kidnapped and held for eight years from 1998 to 2006 in a small cellar room. In her Book “Girl in a Cellar”, Natascha recounts her life in those eight years, her terror, and how even when her kidnapper would take her out in public she constantly feared he would kill her or the people around her if she cried out for help.
In the end, she escaped by running away when her captor was talking on a phone.
Elizabeth Fritzl's story made headlines in 2008. The Austrian woman was held captive by her father for 24 years in the basement of the family home, raped and forced to bear seven children by him. Her plight went unnoticed by neighbors, and even a tenant who lived in the Fritzl home as well as her own mother who was forbidden access to the basement.
Her recovery came when she persuaded her father to take her eldest daughter who was desperately sick to a hospital for treatment. Even then she was reluctant to tell her story until authorities promised her that she and her children would be safe from further abuse.
Steven Stayner was 7 years old when Kenneth Parnell lured him into a car under the guise of being a minister who wanted to collect a donation from Steven's mother. For seven years the young boy remained with Parnell, attended school and lived with Parnell under the name of Dennis Parnell.
Mike Echols tells in his book “I Know My First Name is Steven" how during the seven years of his captivity, he was subjected to emotional and sexual abuse but made no attempt to escape, as Parnell had convinced the terrified 7 year old that his family no longer wanted him and that he (Parnell ) had gone to court and was given custody of "the Steven". He insisted that Steven call him Dad.
Steven, convinced that any attempt to escape would only result in his being returned to Parnell, remained with his captor until Parnell kidnapped another child, Timmy White. Seeing the fear and the trauma on the younger boy's face convinced Steven to escape with Timmy in an attempt to return the young boy to his parents. When police identified Steven and he discovered that his parents had been searching for him the entire 7 years he was surprised and stunned.
Colleen Stan's story is probably the most bizarre case of long-term abduction to date. Kidnapped at age 20 while hitchhiking, by Cameron Hooker and his wife Janice, Colleen lived as a six slave to Cameron for 7 years.
In her book, “Colleen Stan, The Simple Gifts of Life,” Colleen tells in her own words about the initial months of captivity spent in a wooden box for 23 hours a day. The one hour she was allowed out of her box she spent being tortured and raped.
So horrendous was the abuse, that Cameron was able to convince Colleen that he was a member of a group called “The Company” and that any attempt to escape would result in the death of her family. This threat was so real and terrifying that even when Cameron allowed Colleen to make a visit home to her family in 1981, she did not reveal the torture and torment that she had been living through; and when Cameron returned the next day to pick her up, Colleen went with him back to the box and torture without protest.
It wasn't until Cameron's wife Janice, who herself was abused, told Colleen that her husband had no affiliations to the supposed “Company” that Colleen felt safe enough to simply walk away from her 7 years of torment. She then simply boarded a bus and returned home.
Ironically it was Cameron's wife Janice who reported her husband, not Colleen.
There are others stories like these. Shawn Hornsbee was held for 4 years, and Elizabeth Smart was held for 9 months. Right now at this moment another kidnap victim may be out there being held captive, tortured and sexually abused with no one the wiser.
We must ask ourselves how these kidnappers can take victims, most in broad daylight, and keep them for years with no one the wiser.
How do these kidnappers repeatedly keep victims in their own homes and backyards without someone noticing that something is amiss?
And why in cases like Jaycee Dugard when neighbors do report strange goings-on, isn't law enforcement more sensitive and alert? Why are these complaints and reports taken more seriously?
We must answer these questions if we have any hope, of saving others from the horrendous life that people Like Steven Stayner, Colleen Stan, Elizabeth Fritzl and others have endured.