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Almost A Decade After Her Abductors Were Caught, Jaycee Dugard Is Helping Victims Heal

AP / ABC News

Her kidnapping made headlines in the '90s, but now Jaycee Dugard is attracting attention for a totally different reason.

Dugard was famously abducted while walking to a school bus stop near her home in Tahoe, California.

AP

A woman pulled the 11-year-old into a passing van, and even though her stepfather chased after Dugard on his mountain bike, she wouldn't be seen for another 18 years.

The woman, Nancy Garrido, later admitted that Dugard had been targeted by her husband Phillip because she was "cute."

Nancy and Phillip Garrido, Jaycee's abductors.AP

Phillip Garrido was a registered sex offender, who had already spent time in jail before kidnapping Dugard. He and his wife kept the teenager in sheds and tents on their property in Antioch, California.

The Garridos's backyard in Antioch.EPA

During her time as Phillip's prisoner, Dugard was sexually assaulted by him, and gave birth to a pair of children.

"I can't fathom how I kept it together," Dugard remembered about the ordeal years later, "or, you know, I must've been checked out, you know, on a different level."

"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?"

This cover photo of Dugard was the first image of her as an adult.People

Of course Dugard was rescued in 2009, but since then she and her daughters have kept out of the public eye.

But it turns out Dugard has been very busy making the world a better place for victims like herself and her daughters.

The Garridos were arrested after acting strangely with Dugard in public.

The Garridos on trial.Sacramento Bee

Phillip was given a life sentence, while Nancy was given 36 years to life behind bars.

Dugard, who was 29 at the time of her rescue, was reunited with her family and started the hard work of putting her life back together.

A settlement with the State of California helped the single mother re-adjust: the state gave Dugard $20 million, to compensate for mistakes and oversights that kept her from being rescued sooner.

While Dugard's teenage daughters originally cried when they learned their father was being arrested, they've gradually learned what happened to their mother.

Today, Dugard and her children (who are in their 20s) lead a quiet life, and she says some of their closest friends don't even realize their tragic past.

Dugard even says that she and her children can look back on their time in captivity and laugh.

ABC News

"To know it was OK to laugh about, you know, Phillip and Nancy and their … craziness … it helps," she told Diane Sawyer in 2016.

To recover from the trauma and abuse she suffered from the Garridos, Dugard relied on animal therapy.

JAYC Foundation

Today, her charity, the JAYC Foundation, provides safe environments for abuse survivors to rebuild their trust using service animals like horses.

In spite of everything she's been through, Dugard says she's determined not to become overprotective and controlling towards her kids.

Wikimedia / People

"Do we scare our kids into never wanting to do anything or do we prepare them for the worst in life," she says, "never knowing if, you know, if it's really going to happen?"

Do you remember her story? I'm glad she's turning her pain into something so helpful!

[H/T: ABC News, Telegraph, Reuters]