How can a kidnapping victim who interacts with the outside world be held captive for a decade? The anguished question arises as the story unfolds of the Santa Ana, Ca., woman who told police she was kidnapped at age 15, sexually abused, and forced to marry her abductor, says the Christian Science Monitor. Experts who deal with human trafficking say there are many factors such as age, the relationship of the victim and perpetrator, and even immigration status that make each case different. There are commonalities that appear to link the Santa Ana case to others such as the abduction of 11-year-old Jaycee Dugard, who was held for nearly 20 years in a backyard, and the imprisonment of three women abducted by Ariel Castro and held for nearly a decade in a house in the middle of a working-class Cleveland neighborhood.
All of the narratives involve rape and children born while captive. Key to holding captives in such circumstances is the mental domination captors hold over their victims, says Farrah Parker of the City of Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women. The Santa Ana case sheds light on the powerful emotional impacts of kidnapping and modern day slavery, she says. “While physical violence is incredibly detrimental, the emotional enslavement extends beyond physical infliction. Captors convince their victims that they have eyes everywhere and that even their thoughts are not safe,” she says, adding that if a victim's self-esteem, self-worth, hope, and belief in humanity have all been deflated, “then she cannot conceptualize life beyond captivity.”