Thursday, May 9, 2013

Women are stronger than most of us are told

I imagine survivor stories may come out of the kazoo. Here is one.

Years ago, I met a talented foster mother, mmmmm, early 30s, loving husband, two beautiful little kids. They fostered--very well, I might add-- teenage girls who had been sexually abused and/or physically abused. These girls are apt to wail, "you don't understand." Except she did. So she had more success than many.

Her real advantage over the foster kids was that she came from a strong family. Foster kids don't. Early on, she was being taught to think cogently and independently. The family moved to Texas when she was 11, in the summertime. She probably had heard of Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth. Maybe not. She knew nothing about Texas overall. A few weeks after the family moved to Texas, she was abducted.

She was taken to a cabin in the middle of nowhere. She was allowed to look out the windows, because there were no clues, and many locks. No roads to see. No houses. No people. The man would come periodically, abuse her, leave some food-not much- and leave. He would deadbolt everything. Better than for some abductees--she could shower, and she could see out.

One day about a year later, he left, and he made a mistake. And she got outside. She had enough sense not to go down the drive but cut through a nearby woods. She had no idea where she was, but figured she had to hit a road somewhere. She did. This was rural country, so she could hear cars coming and hide each time one came along. She didn't know where she was going.

She was hot and thirsty when she hit a small town. She went to the police station and identified herself. They didn't believe her. As a matter of fact, I don't think they had heard of her. Finally, it was sorted out. They let her speak to her parents who left immediately for the small town.

She was able to lead law enforcement close enough they found the cottage. I think they caught the guy, but I heard this story almost 20 years ago. What mesmerized me was: she escaped. A 12-year-old, abducted and abused for a year, escaped. And recovered, was leading a valuable life.

I wondered then how many actually escape or are discovered and brought back. Apparently more than we know. I heard on NPR that 38 of every 80 missing children each year get home safe. The odds could be better. Should be.

I think most of us expect death or hopelessness soon after abduction. It simply isn't true. And some, like this hardy woman, brutalized for a year before she saw her escape possibility, simply save themselves.

And with some help, go on living very well.

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