Kidnapped off the street when she was just 11 years old, Jaycee Dugard’s teenage years were anything but normal.
But seven years after being freed from the prison that was her captor’s home, the 36-year-old reveals what it’s like building a healthy adult life on such unstable foundations.
Dugard spent 18 years as the prisoner and plaything of sexual predator Phillip Garrido and his partner Nancy, after they swiped her from a bus stop in South Lake Tahoe, California.
Repeatedly raped, she ultimately gave birth to two children, who were raised in sheds in Garrido’s backyard.
In an excerpt from her new memoir, Freedom: A Book of Firsts, published in People magazine, Dugard says the girls, one of whom is at university and the other about to start, are her constant source of inspiration.
“My daughters are both so important to me, and I am so proud of who they are growing up to be," she writes.
"I’ve done my best to protect them over the years, just like any other mother would do for her kids."
Part of that means not revealing their names, and not writing much about them in her book.
“I have chosen it to be this way for the simple reason that I believe they deserve the right to their own stories. One day if they want to, they can write them their way.”
Watching her girls in their own healthy relationships, Dugard has hope she may have one of her own some day.
"I have never even been on a date before!" she writes.
“The only boy ever to ask me out was 10, and I was nine. I didn’t really know what to say so I turned him down. I kind of regret that now, but who knew it would be my only opportunity.”
While not actively seeking a partner, Dugard has cultivated an image of what her Prince Charming might look like.
"I like romance and fairytale junk so my expectations are pretty high nowadays," she writes.
"So unless you ride a beautiful white stallion, can stand with me to slay all our dragons, and make me a princess, you are pretty much out of luck."
She admits it's not been easy getting to the point where she's open to love.
As well as taking her freedom, Garrido also stole her sense of what it means to be beautiful, to be admired.
Dressing her up, slathering her face in makeup, Garrido would mould her to fit his perverted fantasies.
One such night, she began to cry, tears staining her rouged cheeks.
"I told him I felt ugly," Dugard writes.
"I remember he looked at me and said, 'You look beautiful. Here, I will show you. Look into the mirror.'"
"Well, I looked. I don't doubt that he thought I was pretty that night," she continues.
"His creation. The girl he took from the bus stop. A girl he controlled and could be anything he wanted… all I saw was a very frightened girl who I didn't even recognise with mascara running down her cheeks and the saddest face I had ever glimpsed staring back at me."
When Dugard was liberated by police in 2009, Garrido was jailed for 431 years.
His partner, Nancy, who was complicit in holding her captive, was given 36 years.
"When I look in the mirror now, I don't see the ugly broken child I was and who Phillip tried his best to create because he thought that was beautiful," writes Dugard.
"No, I don't see her. I just simply see the beauty in me."