Recent photos showing a smiling and happy Jaycee Lee Dugard no doubt bring a sigh of relief to her friends and family.
But in reality, the 29-year-old mother of two is facing an uphill battle following 18 years of virtual captivity brought on by her captors, Phillip and Nancy Garrido.
RadarOnline.com spoke exclusively with Dr. Diana Kirschner Ph.D. and author of Love In 90 Days: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Own True Love. Kirschner said she believes Jaycee and her daughters will need therapy for the rest of their lives.
“They will all need a great deal of therapy,” Kirschner said. “In cases like this, a person has a lot of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. They can experience depression, flashbacks, they have various kinds of anxieties and a lot of difficulty functioning in the real world.”
Kirschner says this especially applies to Jaycee’s two daughters, who rarely left Phillip Garrido’s backyard. —until now.
“They have a reputation now. People know about them. There’s a certain degree of shame and children can be very cruel. It’s a very delicate situation. And often with a case like this you get a severe depressed reaction or even a suicide attempt.”
Jaycee’s daughters, Angel, 15, and Starlit, 11, have never been to school or immersed themselves in society. Jaycee’s mom, Terry Probyn is keeping the girls isolated for now, something Kirschner thinks it a good idea.
“That’s very appropriate,” she says. “You can’t overwhelm them by sticking them right out into all of these new challenges. They need small doses of bringing them slowly into the normal, everyday activities. A lot of that life skill education will have to fall on the family. Just taking them hand by hand and teaching them about safety and how to be socially appropriate and integrating them in small steps to all of these social experiences.”
So what are the chances of a full recovery for Jaycee’s girls?
“It depends on how much stability there was within that insane situation,” Kirschner says. “The problem is going to be with socialization. I think they need to start by socializing with children of family friends, so that people they are meeting have been briefed on what to say so that their first interactions are safe from teasing and other cruel behavior. They should probably then move into a school with possibly a religious background that emphasizes good relationships among the children.”
Kirschner believes Jaycee will also need a heavy dose of therapy to help her come to terms with the years of sexual abuse.
“It may be difficult for her to have a lasting, loving relationship,” she said. “I’ve seen situations where when there’s a lot of abuse from a male figure, the woman can’t relate to men at all and they will take the gay route.”
But at the end of the day, Kirschner believes in the power of the human spirit.
“I think recovery is possible,” she says. “Miracles do happen.”