"More then ever this reaffirms we should never give up hope," says Dugard, who was held captive herself for 18 years

By Tim Nudd
May 07, 2013 10:30 AM
Andrew H. Walker/Getty

Few people could understand what the three women rescued this week from apparent captivity in Cleveland must have gone through better than Jaycee Dugard.

Abducted herself in 1991 at age 11 and held captive for 18 years, Dugard is cautioning the public to give these women time and space to begin healing. At the same time, she adds, the women’s survival shows the power of human resolve.

“These individuals need the opportunity to heal and connect back into the world. This isn’t who they are. It is only what happened to them,” Dugard tells PEOPLE in a statement.

She adds: “The human spirit is incredibly resilient. More then ever this reaffirms we should never give up hope.”

The three women discovered Monday in a house near downtown Cleveland, identified as Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, had been missing for a decade.

Authorities are only just beginning to piece together what happened to them, but Berry apparently gave birth to a child, now 6, during that time – much like Dugard, who had two daughters while being held captive by Phillip and Nancy Garrido.