Jaycee Dugard's Memoir: Who Benefits?

Illustration for article titled Jaycee Dugard's Memoir: Who Benefits?

Word is, kidnap victim Jaycee Dugard is writing a memoir. If that's cathartic and she wants to, we hope she will. But even if it's not too soon for her...is it a bit soon for us?

Although Dugard's captors are still awaiting trial on 29 counts of kidnapping, rape and false imprisonment, the memoir is already in the works. Says CBS, "Simon & Schuster announced Monday that Dugard will write the book herself and that she will tell the whole story from the day in 1991 when she was snatched off the street by Philip Garrido to the present day as she tries to heal and raise the two daughters she had with Garrido during captivity." An S&S exec who has read Dugard's pages says, "When I read the pages, I was moved and inspired by the raw power of Jaycee Dugard's voice, her strength and her resilience."

Last month, Natascha Kampusch, the Austrian woman who endured 8 1/2 years of captivity, released her own memoir, 3,096 Days. The book was serialized in The Daily Mail, but I found myself unable to get through more than one episode. There was the initial desire to know that the victim was okay; but after that the experience felt voyeuristic. Because there is no understanding it, no making sense of such destructive evil.


If it brings these young women closure or satisfaction — not to mention financial stability — to tell their stories, then it would be irrational to begrudge them the opportunity. One cannot even blame an executive eager to get the exclusive. After all, these are always marketed as triumphs of the human spirit. And of course their very existence does indeed speak to a resiliency most of us can't even imagine. But when we read accounts like this, we have to question our own motives: do we want a story or a something darker? Are we looking for something redemptive or complicated truths? It's hard to know.

Jaycee Dugard Writing Memoir About Her 18 Years In Captivity, Says Publisher [CBS]

Share This Story

Get our `newsletter`


Snacktastic Part III: the Return of the Spatula

Maybe there is something redemptive about publicly discussing an 18 year ordeal where she was literally cut off from the rest of the world, totally isolated, with no safe space or trusting relationships. The fear that was instilled in her by her captors was likely driven by their fear of exposure and by holding a glaringly bright light to their life for the world to see, she may experience it as a victory.

There is something about voyeurism that is important to remember. It is only voyeurism if the people watched have a lack of consent or knowledge. That is not the case here. These are women exposing their own lives. What might be uncomfortable about Kampusch or Dugard is that they expose a real life horror that is difficult to bear, but nevertheless, they do have the right to be heard. Understand their experienced and how they endured has value, even if we can't understand the motives of their captors.