TODAY

TODAY   |  May 08, 2013

Shawn Hornbeck: Freedom ‘feels like a dream’

Shawn Hornbeck was kidnapped in 2002 at age 11, and was rescued four years later. He and his parents, Pam and Greg Akers, offer their advice on how to move forward to the rescued women held captive in Ohio for a decade.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> we're joined by shawn horn bourque and his parents craig and pam akers. good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> shawn it's been six years before you were reunited with your family. before i ask you about what's happening in cleveland how are you doing?

>> i'm doing fantastic, working a full time job just living my life .

>> you have to obviously have had a strong reaction when you heard the story coming out of cleveland , these three women were held for ten years basically against their will under horrible conditions. can you give me a sense of what these first mornings of freedom might be like for those women?

>> i mean it kind of feels like a dream, a dream come true. they're just going to have to take every second and just watch it.

>> can you flip a switch on? i mean how do you go from years of being held against your will in captivity being a victim to being a survivor living in freedom?

>> it's difficult to do, but you just going to have to, you're going to learn how to adapt to it and it's not going to change the life of who they are.

>> i'm interested in hearing you say that. i heard somebody say something yesterday and curious your reaction and i heard someone react to the cleveland story yesterday and say these women will be scarred for life , and i'm sure there are people who said that about you when you were released or freed six years ago. is it possible not to be scarred for life by an event like this?

>> yes, i truly believe that it is possible not to be scarred. i wouldn't say that i'm scarred. you know, i've consulted a personal psychiatrist that i've talked to and just kind of helped me fight my battles within myself and it's just something that they're going to have to go through life and they can't let it bring them down.

>> pam , what do parents and family members need to know as they welcome their loved ones back?

>> they just need to know to be there, let them know their love is unconditional, keep letting them know none of this was ever any of their fault. don't force questions on them, just be there for them and be patient.

>> and craig , is it important not to define your loved one who has been away for so long, define their life by what they've been through in captivity but define it by other things in their lives?

>> absolutely. you know, it's something that happened to them. it's not who they are. they didn't choose to be there. this was all, you know, something they had no control over. what's going to define their lives is how they pick themselves up from this and carry on with their future.

>> a family with a unique perspective on what we're seeing in cleveland . shawn , thank you so much. pam and craig thank you for your time as well.