Inner strength and luck: Abduction survivors reflect on Wisconsin girl’s ordeal

By Daniel Trotta

(Reuters) – Some abduction survivors think of their family to get through their ordeal, while others rely on their faith in God. All of them need inner strength and a great deal of luck, according to survivors and experts who have worked with such victims.

Surely, Jayme Closs had her own well of fortitude, they said on Friday, celebrating the 13-year-old girl’s escape from captivity three months after her parents were murdered in northwestern Wisconsin and she disappeared.

Jake Patterson, a 21-year-old man with no previous criminal record, has been arrested on suspicion of the double-murder and kidnapping.

As survivors reflected on what it takes to survive such trauma, they praised Jayme for holding on long enough to find an opportunity to break free.

“Jayme did whatever she had to survive. And for that, she’s a hero,” said Alicia Kozakiewicz, who herself was held captive for four days in 2002 when she was 13 years old.

Kozakiewicz now works as an advocate for victims, promoting “Alicia’s Law,” in the states to fund child rescue teams and prosecution efforts. She said she got through her captivity by thinking that her parents were searching for her.

“You have no idea what’s in you until you are in that situation. But a huge part for me was my family. I knew they were looking and my goal was to stay alive along as possible,” said Kozakiewicz, who was rescued by the FBI.

Katariina Rosenblatt, a sex trafficking survivor who was held captive between the ages of 13 to 17, now assists law-enforcement agencies and works to free other victims of human trafficking. She said she leaned on her Christian faith to endure until she could escape.

“There’s just a fighting spirit in some people. Her parents must have done something right that they taught her to survive. I don’t know if it comes from upbringing or divine inspiration,” she said.

The same strength that Jayme showed in surviving her capture will also help her heal, Rosenblatt said.

“There is definitely a moment in time that we have a choice to say either I give up or I fight,” she said. “She has something in her.”

Experts who study such cases say there is no single trait that enables such captives to survive. Many abduction victims are killed shortly after they are taken hostage.

“There’s no particular profile. You couldn’t predict it in advance. There are probably many other wonderful and psychologically strong people who end up dead,” said Michael Stone, a psychiatrist and author of “The Anatomy of Evil,” about the traits of those who commit these heinous crimes.

His forthcoming book examines how kidnapping has changed relatively recently. Kidnappers historically sought an economic reward through ransom, Stone said, but in the past half century more have sought to satisfy their own desires, typically seeking sex slaves.

Robert Lowery, a longtime law-enforcement officer who now works for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said the human survival instinct enables victims to overcome unthinkable horrors.

“There are only certain people out there who can truly understand,” Lowery said, “and it’s not those of us who haven’t been victimized.”

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta, editing by G Crosse)

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