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You re Not Alone,The Journey,from Abduction,to Empowerment. U S Department of Justice,Office of Justice Programs. 810 Seventh Street NW,Washington DC 20531,Michael B Mukasey. Attorney General,Jeffrey L Sedgwick,Acting Assistant Attorney General. J Robert Flores,Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Office of Justice Programs,Innovation Partnerships Safer Neighborhoods. www ojp usdoj gov,Office of Juvenile Justice and,Delinquency Prevention. www ojp usdoj gov ojjdp,This document was prepared by Fox Valley. Technical College under cooperative agreement,number 2005 MC CX K116 from the Office of. Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention,OJJDP Office of Justice Programs OJP U S.
Department of Justice,Points of view or opinions expressed in this. document are those of the authors and do not nec, essarily represent the official positions or policies. of OJJDP or the U S Department of Justice,The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency. Prevention is a component of the Office of Justice. Programs which also includes the Bureau of, Justice Assistance the Bureau of Justice Statistics. the National Institute of Justice and the Office for. Victims of Crime,This edition is the first printing.
INTRODUCTORY LETTER, I want you to know how happy we are that you have returned home I also want you to know. that you are not alone, Every day in communities across the country children are abducted by people they know. by family members by people they have met on the Internet by acquaintances and by. complete strangers It is estimated that more than one million children are reported missing. each year Fortunately many of these children return home safely within a short period of. time Unfortunately some do not return at all And some children who return face major. obstacles in their road to recovery and healing, Several years ago the Department of Justice through its Office of Juvenile Justice and. Delinquency Prevention OJJDP pledged itself to helping the victims of abduction whether. it be the families the siblings left behind or the children themselves We have created resour. ces to help these families cope with the aftermath of abduction and begin the healing process. With the assistance of family members who have experienced firsthand the abduction of a. child OJJDP created a guide for families of missing and abducted children titled When Your. Child Is Missing A Family Survival Guide one of the resources most widely requested and. used by families of missing and abducted children In 2006 we created What About Me. Coping With the Abduction of a Brother or Sister which helps siblings who were left behind. cope in the aftermath of the abduction, This third document You re Not Alone The Journey from Abduction to Empowerment was. prepared with the assistance of young adults who were themselves abducted as children and. who are walking the path of healing and recovery It is designed to help others who experi. ence abduction begin to put their lives back together Each abduction is different and so is. the path to recovery And though the road to recovery is different for everyone the destina. tion is the same to find empowerment and normalcy and to live as full a life as possible. It is my sincere hope that this document will help you on your road to recovery I look. forward to the day when we no longer have to search for missing children But until that. day comes I believe that this document and those that preceded it will help children and. families move forward on their personal journeys from abduction to empowerment. J Robert Flores,Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
LETTER FROM THE AUTHORS,Like you we are survivors of abduc. tion We were abducted by strangers,by a parent by someone known to. the family and by someone we,believed was an online friend Each. of us had different experiences,which ultimately led us down. different paths Like you we,returned from those experiences.
and had to adjust to a whole,Even though we are all. survivors we are also much more, We are college students musicians dancers artists athletes. and advocates We are daughters and sons brothers and sisters. boyfriends and girlfriends friends roommates and community. members One day we will be husbands and wives parents teachers. forensic psychologists and lawyers, As you are all too aware the journey can be tough Our experiences the abduction itself. our responses to it and other life events have shaped our lives in ways that we didn t always. expect We are who we are today because we chose to turn a negative experience into a. positive one and to move forward on our journey from abduction to empowerment. The paths we followed have not always been direct or smooth but we have realized that. the progression of life goes on We want you to know that you can make choices and move. forward just as we have We stood right where you are standing now wondering what was. in store for us in the future how we were going to get there and what we were going to face in. the process We are happy to tell you that we not only survived but we have learned to thrive. We have been where you are in your journey You are not alone As difficult as it may seem. you will get through this It will get better You will learn and you will grow It is possible for. you to continue on in your life and become who you want to be We hope you will let us. walk beside you as you go through your journey, This book was created for and by survivors of abduction with the guidance and assistance. of the Department of Justice We are telling our stories because we hope they will help you. believe in yourself and give you hope for your future Please know that what happened to. you is your story and you can tell it if you want how you want when you want and to. whom you want, Always remember that the abduction was not your fault You survived something that was.
out of your control You can reassume control and in the process come out stronger Your. life is different now there is a new normal That is what we mean by the journey from. abduction to empowerment It s the road you walk as you heal and grow and learn to take. back the reins of your own life, We cannot say exactly how you should move forward We can tell you however that your. experience does not have to destroy your life Our hope is that our words will give you. encouragement and ideas about where to start The most important thing to remember is. that you have a life ahead of you and that it can be what you want it to be. You are a survivor We hope that you will choose to keep hoping. move forward and recover your joy in life Take care of yourself. Don t be too hard on yourself The journey will take time But you. will make it,Welcome home,ABOUT THIS BOOK,One step at a time one foot. In 2007 we were invited to be part of,in front of the other That s. writing a book for others who survived an how you move on There is. abduction and returned home Many of us something more for you to. remember wishing we had someone to do you survived for a. talk with in those early days who had been,through a similar experience We all knew. reason Maggie,that we wanted to be part of this project.
because we saw its potential to help others, who were probably feeling as frightened and alone as we once did. We came together with a team of professionals who had worked on similar documents to share. our thoughts and ideas about what someone in these shoes would need to know For many of. us this was the first time that we had a chance to talk to other survivors We realized how. important it was to connect with someone else who had a similar experience even if all the. details were not exactly the same We hope that is what this book can do for you. The book is divided into five sections each dealing with different aspects of your personal. journey from abduction to empowerment The first section focuses on the journey itself and. what you might expect along the way The second discusses finding those who can help you. through your journey Section three is about retaking control of your life and making the. choices that are right for you The fourth section talks about roadblocks you may face in the. process and some possible ways that you can handle them successfully The final section deals. with finding the new normal in your life, Each section includes a personal letter from one of us with our thoughts to help you through. your journey To make sure that we had input from as many different perspectives as possible. the team reached out to other young people who had been through similar experiences. Throughout the book you will see quotes from the five of us and from four other survivors. of abduction Josh Lindsey Sarah and Trevor We want to thank them for having the courage. to share their experience and taking the time to share their thoughts. This book is a resource for you Whether you read every word skim. pieces that grab your attention or put it down until you re ready to. look at it again later we hope it helps you understand that you truly. are not alone,SECTION 1 YOUR JOURNEY,You may be picking this book up in. the days following your abduction or,it may be months or even many years. since your abduction No matter,where you are how long it has been.
or what level of healing you have,found it is okay This is a journey. a process Everyone handles it dif,ferently Just know that as difficult. as it may be things get better,There is hope What s important is. that you are ready to hear from,others who like you have. survived an abduction, You will have good days and bad days in the months and years to come Sometimes you may.
feel your journey will never end Sometimes it may seem you are retracing the same steps over. and over Some journeys take longer than others,What is important is not to. re s no sign that says you ve,compare yourself to anyone The. arrived you re here but things,else The circumstances of your. abduction and your survival do align and start working It. is possible to be happy What,were unique to you Your. you ve gone through isn t the,healing process will be unique.
end of the world because you re,still here We can t show you how. Your home life will probably be different to get over it but we can show. and may never go back to the way it used,to be If you were gone for a while or. you it is possible Sam,abducted at a young age you may not. remember what it was like before your abduction and you may need to get to know members. of your family from scratch Your routine as you remember it may be completely different. now You may feel that your abduction has become a point of reference there will always be a. before and an after this happened to you This may be sad frightening and confusing all at. the same time, You may feel that you need some space to deal with what has happened but that others do. not want to let you be alone right now You may feel torn between what you want and need. and what others think you want and need You may want to talk or you may want to be. quiet You may want others to be near you physically or you may not want anyone to touch. you Sometimes all you want is to be alone but at the same time you might be afraid of. being alone, You also may feel guilty for what happened or others may make you feel that way You may.
realize that your parents and siblings also experienced trauma that life changed for them. as well As a result they may have their own issues to work through They may be overprotec. tive or seem distant It will probably take time to sort through everything and find the. balance between what you need and what they need, It will take time to process what happened to you It took time for all of us as well Although. time really does make things better it cannot make what happened go away All you can do is. choose to make the best of it and to make an effort to turn the negative experience you went. through into something positive, We found specific strategies that helped us along our journeys Keep in mind that the same. strategies didn t work for each of us As you embark on your journey you will have to find. out what works for you and what,doesn t Take your time and trust. Getting better doesn t always your instincts,happen in a straight line It comes. For information on,and goes in waves or cycles like.
additional resources,taking two steps forward and one. step back It s a journey you move,please see Where to Find. through on your way to the other More Help on page 60. side The important thing though,is to keep going Tamara. TALKING TO SOMEONE,Talking about what happened is an. important part of your healing This,is not something that you can handle.
on your own You will find that many,people will want to talk with you and. you may even feel bombarded by their,interest in you As you begin to open. up make sure that you talk about it in,your own time and in your own way. Use this as an opportunity to take con,trol of this portion of your life again. Sometimes you may want to talk about what happened other times. it s the last thing you want to discuss Remember that apart from. law enforcement s investigation of your case you have to share only. what you want to share and only when you are ready. When you are ready find someone you trust Some of us confided in our parents their. unconditional love and support has helped us throughout our journey Others of us found it. difficult to talk with parents and other family members who were also struggling with how to. cope Some of us who returned from a family abduction also found it difficult to talk with a. parent or with other family members who were in many ways strangers to us Many of us. were successful in finding a counselor or therapist who helped us along our journeys. We all learned that the key to finding someone to confide in was to find someone we trusted. This may have been someone who was helpful in our lives before the abduction or someone. new We all found it important to find someone who was objective without being judgmen. tal who let us speak in our own voices and in our own time and who had our interests at. heart It was important to find someone who could provide us with strength and guidance to. help us make our own decisions,Most important was finding someone just.
g the for us with whom we felt comfortable,Igprnoobrin. lem doesn t,help Alicia, Remember you cannot do this alone Asking for help is not a. weakness It is a strength and an important part of the healing. process Here are some of the people we turned to when we needed. them the most,Brothers and sisters,Other family members grandparents aunts uncles. and cousins,Best friends,Boyfriends or girlfriends. Counselors,Other trusted adults, Others who had undergone similar experiences like a.
support group,Keep in mind that what you need may,en something like this. change from moment to moment and,that you may need to talk with different. happens it leaves a void inside, people about different aspects of your of you You basically have tw. life and the abduction Each of us found choices You can fill it with. multiple people whom we trusted in negative things like alcohol. different ways to help us with different drugs or promiscuity or you. parts of our journey can fill it with good works an. FINDING POSITIVE,a good heart Alicia, There will be times when you wish that things could go back to the way they were before the. abduction and times that you wish it had never happened There will be times when your. world seems grim This is normal and to be expected When you find yourself thinking. What if engaging in activities that you enjoyed before the abduction may be a healthy. outlet for your emotions now You might also want to try a new activity to see if it helps. If it doesn t try another until you find a positive outlet. Here are some things that worked for us,Keeping a journal.
Attending a class,Competitive running is what,Painting and drawing. saved me I had to get back to,Listening to music,what I loved back to what. defined me I fought so hard,Playing an instrument,for it I was not going to let. Exercising,my abductor take that away,Playing sports. from me Maggie,Going to the movies,Taking up a new hobby.
Going shopping,Spending time with family,Spending time with positive and good people. because they will naturally bring you up and you,will be likely to do positive things for yourself. Setting a personal goal to do something new every,day even if it is something very small. Spending time with friends who let you talk about it if you. want to but don t force you to talk about it if you don t. feel bad about yourself do something that, Ifwillyoumake you feel good like getting your hair cut. or something that you used to do before the abduc,tion Even if it feels weird Spend time with other.
people but don t be afraid to be alone No one will. heal like you and patience with other people is the. first step to your own healing Lindsey,TAMARA S STORY. Life I have found is not so much,about the endpoint but about the. journey and how one responds to,experiences along the way It is filled. with hidden corners obstacles that may,seem impossible to overcome mighty. triumphs pain fear utter happiness,passion and events one could never.
imagine until they become a reality,I would like to share part of my life story. with you a story that begins when I was 16 years old and was kidnapped at. gunpoint by a man I did not know I open myself to you because we have two. things in common We were abducted and made it back alive and we both have. the ability to take back what was snatched from us the freedom to live our lives. The importance of telling you my story lies in the things I have done to empower. myself in response to that experience It lies in my journey filled with hard work. healing challenges and triumphs over the trauma As much as I would love to say. that one day you will wake up and the work will be over it will not However it. does get easier with time, I hope that sharing my successes and the mistakes that I have made in dealing. with my abduction will help you on your journey I have turned my own journey. although it has had its hardships heartbreaks and pain into something amazing. not because I am a superhuman in disguise but because of how I chose to. respond to what happened, My name is Tamara and I am 21 years old I will be finishing my bachelor s. degree in June 2008 I have been dancing since high school and I spend as much. of my free time as possible out with friends my family at the beach or curling up. with a good book and my kitty When I was 16 my life took an unexpected turn. when I was kidnapped from my hometown, Before that point I was an ordinary teenager boy crazy like all of my friends. excited about my first real prom still a year away and 2 years shy of graduating. high school I played sports was a straight A student and was always doing. something goofy to make my friends laugh The summer I turned 16 I felt on top. of the world A week after my 16th birthday on July 31 2002 when I was at a. lookout point with one of my best friends I was abducted at gunpoint and my. friend was left behind tied up I was then to endure one of the most difficult. experiences of my life, A few hours later my captor took another young woman Together we chose to.
fight back and although we were unsuccessful we did not give up Approximately. 16 hours later we were found largely thanks to the success of California s first. AMBER Alert After he fired a shot from his gun our captor was shot to death by. the police Moments later it was over We were safe We had survived. THE FIRST FEW HOURS, We were first taken to the hospital to ensure that we were okay Upon our arrival. we were taken inside on gurneys covered head to toe with sheets The media via. the AMBER Alert had been airing our story from the beginning and as a result. everyone wanted to be the first to get a picture of us or catch us on film. Everything became a rush after,that Detectives questioned us. en I came home everyone wante d to,and put us into separate rooms. as the hospital performed a full Wh,hug me The problem was that I did. medical examination to collect want to be touched At the same tim. any physical evidence That,understood that it was what they nee.
experience felt like another at they,to help them heal and deal with wh. violation all over again but it g So,had been through while I was missin. was necessary At the time I did And,I thought okay go ahead and hug me. not understand what was going realized, on or why I had to undergo so when I hugged my family they also. many procedures I was still in that I was uncomfortable and needed. a state of shock from the reality be alone We needed to reestablish bou. of being kidnapped and then aries We needed time to figure out. the reality of being found was okay and what wasn t.

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