September 13, 2016 02:00 PM

For seven years, Colleen Stan spent most of her days and nights locked in a coffin-like box – released only to be beaten, raped and tortured.

The victim of an abduction while hitchhiking from her Oregon home, Stan, now 59, eventually escaped and rebuilt her life. She owed her freedom, in part, to the woman who helped abduct her.

“I don’t know why she waited so long, and really until this day I don’t know exactly why,” Stan tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview in the current issue.

Stan says Janice Hooker came to her in 1984 and said they both needed to leave the Hookers’ house. In 1977, Janice and her husband, Cameron, kidnapped Stan when she was hitchhiking and they offered her a ride.

“I don’t know if [Cameron] was going to kill us and get somebody else to replace us – that’s what news clips said – but obviously he said or did something to her that made her fear for her life and made her decide that we needed to get out,” Stan says of the pair’s escape.

“So we did.”

For more on Colleen Stan’s incredible ordeal, escape and survival, pick up the current issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

Colleen Stan in this week's issue of PEOPLE

“[Janice] took me to her parents’ home while Cameron was at work, and I called my father,” Stan says.

Cameron was later sentenced to 104 years in prison for his crimes and Janice was given immunity in exchange for her testimony against him.

“My first feeling was when I was free and reunited with my family was just, I was so filled with joy,” Stan stays. “It was just like my cup was overflowing with joy.”

“Coming home is the first step to the rest of your life.”

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