The recent Jaycee Dugard story has taken on a new twist with the announcement that she will indeed testify against her kidnapper, Phillip Garrido. Many "mental health experts" in the media were saying that her testifying would only traumatize her again and wasn’t really appropriate.
Many of these ‘experts’ have said she will never be ‘normal’ and that this type of trauma is impossible to overcome. I can guarantee that if the treating psychiatrist in any case feels that a good result is impossible, then it will indeed be a self-fulfilling proposition.
I’ve treated many survivors of sexual assault, abuse and incest over the years. (note: I say survivor, rather than victim, intentionally because the word victim ‘implies oh poor me I’m a victim what can I do?’ while survivor implies you’ve survived the trauma and are dealing with it and moving on).
The one thing a psychiatrist must provide in these cases is HOPE that the survivor will not only survive but prosper. This became especially clear to me when, as a Louisiana native, I was involved in the assessment and treatment of hurricane survivors from the 2 major Louisiana storms in 2005, Katrina and Rita.
Interestingly you could never predict ahead of time who would cope best with the crisis but the one universal truth I found afterward was that the folks who did the best had a very different view of the event than the ones that floundered.
The difference was not who lost loved ones or homes or had to be evacuated or how much money or insurance a person had, but rather very simply a state of mind that was: this hurricane is merely a difficult obstacle on the road of life and it will be dealt with - and then I will move on. A survivor mentality, not a victim mentality; a mental health professional can help instill this mindset.
Jaycee Dugard is a true survivor. She survived for 18 years with a psychotic sex addict who may yet be implicated in murder of other missing girls. She raised 2 daughters safely and they survived. I guarantee that testifying against Phillip Garrido will be a mere blip on her personal radar screen and moreover it will be empowering for her to finally have control and power over her own life.
Of course she will need counseling and therapy, perhaps long term but, I predict she will be just fine on the stand. I also predict she will do well for the rest of her life if she maintains the same attitude that enabled her to survive for 18 years with a madman.