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.