Dr Phil: Held Captive By An Online Friend
Dr Phil counseled a mother and daughter who have been through an unusual circumstance. Hope is now 17, but three years ago, she was kidnapped by someone she met on the Internet. The ordeal lasted for three weeks, but the effects have lasted much longer. Her mother Desiree does not understand why Hope cannot just let go of the past, and that’s how they came to be Dr Phil’s guests.
How did this incident begin? When Hope was 14, she and her mother got into a fight. Hope vented her frustrations on social media, and before long a stranger reached out to her. The woman said that Hope could stay with her for awhile and have a good time. Within 45 minutes, Hope was gone, and what happened next is not what she expected.
Dr Phil: Abducted By a Social Media Friend
Hope went with the woman to a hotel room, and when they got there, they were met by a man who beat and drugged Hope. Then she was forcibly abused for weeks before she was able to be removed from that situation. Hope’s abuse took place in eight states and involved as many as 20 men per day.
Desiree has made it known that she was also a victim of what happened to her daughter. In a pre-interview, she complained about the effect it had on her work and her interactions with her other children. Since then, she has tried to support Hope, but at some point she thinks that Hope needs to be able to take care of herself.
Dr Phil: Using An Alter Ego To Cope with Trauma
Hope talked with Dr Phil about how she was able to get through her experience. She developed an alter ego to help herself dissociate from the terrible things that were happening to her. Hope even named this persona Sophia, and Dr Phil said that this is a common tactic for coping with trauma.
“She helps me cope with the situations,” Hope said of Sophia. “All of that stuff, it makes her a stronger person.” Hope said that she still does not think she would be able to deal with the emotional consequences of mentally taking on everything she has already physically survived. Sophia still helps Hope get through her daily life.
Dr Phil: Is Mom a Victim In Her Daughter’s Abduction?
Dr Phil also had plenty of thoughts about Desiree’s claim to victim status for herself in the wake of her daughter’s lasting scars. Desiree was very defensive about her experience as a worried mother whose daughter was missing. Dr Phil didn’t have much sympathy for her, and he highlighted some of her pre-interview comments that he called “unsettling.”
Desiree wondered how long throughout life Hope would be turning to her mother for help. She also questioned whether anyone would be there for her in her old age. “Don’t we all have to work for our retirement? Don’t we all have to save for our future?” Hope asked as she started to cry, wondering aloud whether she was being selfish.
Dr Phil: Mom Turns Down Abused Daughter’s Needs
In a futile attempt to clarify her comments, Desiree said that her beef is Hope leaning on her in the present day, not in the aftermath of her trauma. She is still 17, after all. Desiree also claimed that Hope has threatened to exploit herself if she doesn’t get money from her mother. Hope shot back that she is the only one of Hope’s children who is making an attempt to care for herself.
Hope said that she thinks she should be able to turn to her mother when she is a tight spot, and she does not think that $20 or $40 is too much to ask on occasion. Beyond that, Hope said she does not have much interest in maintaining a relationship with her mother. It’s definitely not much to ask, though it sounds like Hope might be better off without having to deal with Desiree.
Dr Phil: Fallout from Family Crisis
Dr Phil said that all of the trauma and drama that Hope has been through did not begin on the day of her abduction. Family life has been hard through the years. That being said, Dr Phil was concerned about Desiree’s claims to victimhood in Hope’s personal crisis. He cannot know how she felt, but he speculated that it “would be very, very difficult.”
However, he thought that if he were to be safely reunited with that child, he might respond differently than Desiree has done. That does not make mother-daughter relationships easy, especially when there is a tough history to navigate. “The fallout goes for a long time and a long way and it affects everyone,” Dr Phil said.
Dr Phil #OvercomingTrauma: Do Not Let Trauma Define You
Dr Phil said this was not the first trauma Hope has experienced, and he said she has not had the resources or the opportunity to confront everything she has been through. Though she has found a coping mechanism, she could use more support than that. Trauma can also stunt development, which means that Hope could still have a lot of catching up to do.
“I don’t want this to define you for the rest of your life,” Dr Phil said. “You are so much more than what people have done to you.” Sometimes the guests on Dr Phil seem to be beyond help or just in it for the attention. But in stories like this, it’s nice that there is some hope for a happy future. I’m pulling for Hope to get the care she needs to make a fresh start in life.
Share your thoughts about this story on social media using the hashtag #OvercomingTrauma. Do stories like these change your attitude about meeting new people online? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.