‘‘I had lived for too long in a nightmare, the psychological prison was still there and stood between me and my family,’’ Kampusch wrote in ‘‘3096 Days,’’ her account of the ordeal.
Kampusch, now 25, said in a German television interview that she was struggling to form normal relationships, partly because many people seem to shy away from her.
‘‘What a lot of these people say is, ‘What’s more important than what happened is how people react,'’’ says Greenberg, the psychologist.
The world has reacted to the Cleveland women with an outpouring of sympathy and support. This reaction will live on, amplified by the technologies that rose while the women were locked away.
Yet these women are more than the sum of their Wikipedia pages. Dugard, Smart and other survivors often speak of not being defined by their tragedies—another challenge for the Cleveland survivors.
‘‘A classmate will hear their name, or a co-worker, and will put them in this box: This is who you are and what happened to you,’’ Donohue-Dioh says. ‘‘Our job as society is to move beyond what they are and what they've experienced.’’
‘‘This isn’t who they are,’’ Dugard told People. ‘‘It is only what happened to them.’’
Still, for the three Cleveland women, their journey forward will always include that horrifying lost decade.
‘‘We can’t escape our past,’’ Donohue-Dioh says, ‘‘so how are we able to manage how much it influences our present and our future?’’
AP Researcher Judith Ausuebel and AP Writer Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.
Jesse Washington on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jessewashington