updated 05/07/2013 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 05/07/2013 AT 10:30 AM ET
Few people could understand what the three women rescued this week from apparent captivity in Cleveland must have gone through better than Jaycee Dugard.
Abducted herself in 1991 at age 11 and held captive for 18 years, Dugard is cautioning the public to give these women time and space to begin healing. At the same time, she adds, the women’s survival shows the power of human resolve.
“These individuals need the opportunity to heal and connect back into the world. This isn’t who they are. It is only what happened to them,” Dugard tells PEOPLE in a statement.