Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I'd know you anywhere

You all probably know that I love to read books about missing kids, and you know I only halfheartedly recommend most of them, but this latest one that I read was really good, and really thought-provoking. I have posted a couple of quotes from it on my facebook -- not even necessarily because I agreed with them, because I'm not sure I do, but just because there was something in them I felt compelled to copy.  They were:
"There is no magic that can keep a child a child, or shield a child from the world at large. That was where the trouble almost always began, with a parent trying to out think fate. Stay on the path. Don't touch the spindle. Don't speak to strangers. Don't touch the rose."
"A line from a poem came to her, something about the people who never got suffering wrong. Yet in Eliza's experience, everyone, even most victims, got suffering wrong. That's why it was better never to speak of it.
This story is about an adult woman, Eliza, who was kidnapped as a young teen, and held captive for six weeks by her abductor, before she was rescued -- and actually rescued with the assistance of her kidnapper. In reading this book, I just couldn't help but wonder if the story wasn't inspired in part by Jaycee Dugard's kidnapping. I have a writer's mind myself, and I know news stories often spin off into threads in my mind, and I want to create a reality and explanations around them.

In this book, the kidnapper had actually kidnapped and killed several other girls. In fact, he kidnapped a girl while he was holding Elizabeth (Eliza's actual name, which she changed after her rescue). And he murdered that girl while Elizabeth sat in his truck nearby. Eliza is haunted by the fact that there were points at which she could have gained her own freedom, but hadn't, and there was a point at which she could have saved the girl who was murdered, and didn't.

Throughout the story the questions swirl of why Eliza was not killed when the other girls were, and also why she didn't save herself and the other girl. And of course, as you can probably guess, the answers to those two things are linked. She survived because she was compliant. Part of being compliant involved not escaping when she might have, not getting help for the other girl when she might have. Nor was it simply the compliance itself that saved her, but the feelings her kidnapper developed towards her because of it. It is directly stated that the other girl was killed because she wasn't compliant, because she was unpleasant and because she fought back. And all this unfolds in conversations that Eliza ends up having when her kidnapper, who is facing imminent death by lethal injection, manages to contact her.

So you can all probably see where I am going with this, where this leads me. When Jaycee was found alive, one of the fears I stated out loud was that if Garrido had taken Michaela first, he might not have kept her alive, because Michaela would not have been compliant. She would have fought. At least I'm pretty certain that she would have. It was her nature, and it was her training. You know, those child safety classes always teach the kids to fight. Kick, scream, scratch, any number of a million defensive techniques that they advise the kids to use against attackers, kidnappers. But I have to wonder, how often do those techniques work? A child is never going to be a match for the strength of an adult male. Never. Are we teaching them incorrectly? Would we be better off teaching them to be compliant but always be on the lookout for a means of escape, and to take it?

This is what I think of when I read that first quote, the one about parents trying to out think fate. "This is where the trouble begins." What does the author mean by that? I couldn't tell, even from the context. The narrator certainly seemed to advocate trying to keep kids safe, and teaching them not to talk to strangers, etc. What could it be referring to except for our insistence on teaching kids to fight back against abductors? Even though this had not been raised at that point in the book, is that where the trouble begins?

I don't know. I honestly don't know the answers to these questions. It makes me think that I have no business trying to teach kids to be safe, or trying to teach parents to keep their kids safe. At the end of the book, Eliza talks about the burglar alarm system that her family has installed, its beep beep beep when it is activated, and how she knows that even that is not going to keep them safe if someone actually means them harm. The other day I was talking to someone about wanting to keep a person safe by having them stay home instead of going on a trip at a particular time, and he said no, don't tell them to stay home. If it is meant to be, the plane will crash on their house....  I don't say these things in order to bring you down, by the way. Perhaps I say them in order to free you a little bit, to help you move from living in fear to living in faith.

Ultimately I just say them to let you know that I don't have the answers. I wish I did.

And I have to end this post, as so many others, by addressing Michaela.  If you are out there alive somewhere, Michaela, and you have stayed alive by compromising and being complacent, for goodness' sake do not feel bad about that. Do not feel guilty, do not feel unworthy. As Eliza says in the book, if she survived because she was weak, then she was glad she was weak, because she is happy to be alive. Michaela, if you are alive, I would only be glad that you are alive. Nothing else matters. There is nothing else that cannot be healed with enough love, and not only my heart but the world as a whole holds enough love for you that we can overcome anything.

I love you, sweetheart.

mom

17 comments:

  1. Sharon,

    Thank you for the provocative nature of your post. It is exceptional.

    I agree with your suggestions about the meaning of the statement: 'That was where the trouble almost always began, with a parent trying to out think fate.' I think we gain meaning of the statement by reading: "There is no magic that can keep a child a child, or shield a child from the world at large.

    I think the author suggests that, The trouble begins by believing that we can control our childrens' fate by doing this and that...by keeping them home, by teaching them to fight back, etc.

    I am not saying that we shouldn't teach them to fight back. I think we need to add,'be compliant' to what we the teach them. Both are good tools. Both can be appropriately used.

    Also, you never know what could sweep over a child in a near-death experience. Michaela could have reacted with from great wisdom and divine intervention. She could have acted in compliance to save herself. Why not?

    I am a fighter, but when choosing between life and death, I chose compliance over fighting, and saved my own life-as an adult.

    NJ Insight

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  2. Sharon, this really is some very thought provocing material. I, like most parents, teach my kids to fight back, but in light of reading this it really adds some much needed re-thinking. I think it is easy to teach our kids to be compliant or to be fighters, but in the end, as vicitims, we probably would throw so many things out the window while going through the experience. I find it interesting that you posted this, because shortly after hearing about Jaycee and all the info that was surfacing, when I heard about possible other young blondes it made me wonder about Michaela. I knew she had been taken before Jaycee, and I seriously wondered if she had been a spit fire, that he couldn't control. Part of me thought, well.....he could not have possibly gone without taking someone prior to Jaycee. It seemed too impossible to me. I also thouhgt perhaps Jaycee was a replacement, and he didn't need to take anyone else, because of her compliant personality. Yet, all of this leads me back to, well if this is the case, it means he did the unthinkable to Michaela, and I just don't want to go there. I don't like to think about you having to go there either.

    Paula in IL

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  3. Well, I have been there, Paula. One of the many suspects in Michaela's case was once asked, theoretically, because he was never accused and never confessed to any child abductions, "How would you control these girls if you kidnapped them?" And his response was, "With Amber and Nikki, it was easy. With Michaela it was more difficult. She was a fighter."

    This is not a person I have really considered to be a likely suspect, and yet that comment has just burned in my heart, because I so thoroughly felt it to be true.

    But what do we tell our kids? Do we tell them that sometimes you should be cooperative? I have written a book about child safety, called "Listen to Your Smart Voice", which is supposed to help kids to analyze the situations they are in and respond, since it is impossible to write about everything they could face and what to do. But perhaps I need to revise it? But how do we explain this to children?

    I'm reading another book now, which I'll write about when I finish it, about an adult woman who is kidnapped and held by a kidnapper for an extended period of time -- a year is it? I haven't finished the book yet, but I'll write about it when I do finish. And she is constantly trying to figure her kidnapper out, and trying to figure out how she should respond in order to makes things easiest for herself. It's a matter of trial and error, and of remembering everything she has ever read or seen on TV about rapists. So this is something that just seems to be coming up for me again and again. I just hope to find some answers!

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  4. First, Sharon, this is some very thought provoking information about when children should fight back and when they should comply. All I can say is "God Bless all parents and give them the instinct to find the best combination of both to teach their children".

    Second, that response is positively chilling. Was there an Amber and Nikki missing as well??? How does someone come up with a response like that if they weren't involved???

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  5. Yes, there was an Amber and Nikki. The person who said this was without a doubt obsessed with missing children, and could have said just about anything, but that doesn't make it true. He used to spend a lot of time at the grave of a girl who had been kidnapped and murdered, but someone else was arrested and prosecuted for that crime.

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  6. I know who you are referring to, because I have read about his connection and fascination he had with missing girls. Didn't someone confess though in prison to one of these girls abuduction and murder? I think he was also obsessed or wanting fame. It is striking that these girls disappeared in and around the time frame as Michaela and Jaycee though. I pray you have answers soon......a miracle break through if you will.

    Paula in Illinois

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  7. Yes, Paula, someone in prison did confess to one of these kidnappings, and as a consequence that police department closed the case. It was a very sad thing, to see her mom leave the police station with the box of her daughter's belongings. But there was no evidence found, and without evidence it's just a story, and I'm not sure her mom is satisfied with that ending. I know I wouldn't be.

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  8. I know I would not be either. There have been too many cases of false declerations by criminals, so I would not want the case closed.

    So, this person who had the fascination with missing girls and did his "own" investigating, you feel sure he can't be involved? There is a lot of information out there on him, and I'm not sure what is real or not, but he sounds very creepy to me. Is it a false rumor that the police really had tracked the scent of two of the missing girls to a grave? It isn't bad enough that you get false leads and faux information, but to have this guy getting involved would send me through the roof.

    Paula in Illinois

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  9. Well, we can't be sure. But I remember seeing him on television as a hero after the Loma Prieta earthquake her in 1989, because he was helping to pull bodies out of the collapsed freeway wreckage. And we know he didn't cause the earthquake... Honestly, if you knew of all the leads I've heard which should like they have to be it, you'd be floored. And of course, they can't all be true. If we didn't have an eyewitness I'd probably be convinced this could be the guy, but he really doesn't much resemble the description given by our eyewitness. Someone wrote a book and revised our composite in an effort to make it look more like this guy, but if you have to redo it then it means it's not a good match, right? He definitely likes to be considered a suspect, though, which I think is probably more likely to be an indication that he is not.

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  10. You are a mom and I take a mom's intuition to be a very good thing.....at least a good mom. So, if you feel he's not connected I'd say you know. I remember that earth quake...my sister in law lived in cal, and we were quite worried. I was just a 21 at the time. I so pray for you.

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  11. Thanks ... but I don't know if my mom's intuition works very well here. I've often been asked about my feelings about things, and I've always said that I have too many hopes and fears bound up in the whole thing to be able to have a clear intuition.

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  12. Hello Sharon, Natascha Kampusch wrote a book herself about her 3096 days with kidnapper, sorry all the text is in German:
    http://www.bild.de/BILD/news/topics/natascha-kampusch/natascha-kampusch-wolfgang-priklopil-entfuehrung.html

    Love from Germany
    Britta

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  13. Britta, that looks horrifying. Here is a link in English for those who are interested:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/austria/7983464/Natascha-Kampusch-autobiography-I-was-beaten-and-forced-to-share-a-bed-with-kidnapper.html

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  14. Sharon, I can hardly read all that :-(

    Hugs from Germany
    Britta

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  15. I know. I can't. It makes things too real.

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  16. Katie Beers' book Buried Memories was recently released on Amazon.

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  17. Colleen Stan has a new autobiography out called Colleen Stan: The Simple Gifts Of Life

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