Abducted for four years as a child, Hornbeck gives insight on Jaycee's ordeal – and how she can overcome it

By Johnny Dodd
Updated September 04, 2009 09:00 AM
Credit: Huy Richard Mach/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nick Ut/AP

If anybody could know the torment Jaycee Dugard endured during her 18 years in captivity it would be Shawn Hornbeck, 18, who spent four years and three months living in the one-bedroom apartment of his abductor.

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Hornbeck, who – like Dugard – was abducted at the age of 11, shares his insight on life as a captive and what the road to recovery will be like for Jaycee.

Why Jaycee never escaped:
“You’re brainwashed. It’s as simple as that. I know people use that term a lot, but that’s what happens to you. It’s like you are on autopilot, only someone else is controlling all the switches. They control every little, minute detail in your life. Everything.”

What Jaycee is going through now:
“She is in an absolute state of shock right now. Coming out of what she’s had to endure is like entering a new world. It’s like a door has opened for her and she’s emerged from a world that’s black and white into one that’s full of color. I remember when I got out. All I wanted to do is be with my family. I didn’t want to let them out of my sight. I was hungry just to be in their presence, starving for it.”

How Jaycee can heal:
“I realize this sounds like I’m stating the obvious, but you have to move on. You can’t dwell on the past. You have to keep looking toward the future and telling yourself that it’s going to be better than your past I had a lot of built-up anger afterwards, which is normal. But this anger can take control of your life if you’re not careful. You’re angry about how unfair it is that this happened to you Going to therapy really helped me get everything in order. One of the things that really helped me – and everyone is different – is that we talked about was how I could better myself from what happened to me, how could I use all those terrible, awful experiences I had to grow and mature. I know it sounds crazy, but those experiences have made me a better person.”

For information, check out the Shawn Hornbeck Foundation