MENOMONIE, Wis. (WEAU) -- While Jayme Closs is reunited with her family, there's still a long road of recovery ahead for the Barron teen as she processes everything she's gone through during the past three months. Not only does Jayme have so much to process after being kidnapped and held for nearly three months, she's also grieving the loss of both of her parents.
Dr. John Klem from the University of Wisconsin-Stout says the key is letting her process all of this at her own time and speed. "I think the first part of the process is time just needs to pass,” he said.
Dr. Klem says as Jayme begins to heal, that support and time are the most important. “This is not something that is just fixes or resolves itself because all of a sudden she is home,” Dr. Klem said.
He says it's critical to give Jayme space until she is ready and willing to talk about it. "Experiences like this, especially as long as hers was really causes pretty serious impacts on the brain,” Dr. Klem said. “Basically the world becomes a pretty unsafe place for someone that goes through this kind of stuff and just because they return home or they return to a safer place doesn't mean the brain knows that."
It's also important for her to know she has a strong support system. "As she starts remembering what went on, starts thinking about what went on, she is going to need to turn to her friends and family to talk about that and in some cases she may need to turn to some professionals to really help her process through what she went through,” he said.
For anyone who experiences trauma, they will heal at different speeds, like Elizabeth Smart who was abducted from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002 and held for nine months. "You don't go back to the old normal. There's only a new normal, and coming to terms with that and accepting that,” Smart said.
Smart is now a child safety activist and wants Jayme to know that even though this has changed her life it doesn't have to define her life. "So, I would want her first and foremost to know she did nothing wrong. She did absolutely everything right. She survived. That's amazing,” Smart added.
John Klem also says as you start to see her back in school and other things to just treat her like a normal 13 year old and don't ask her any questions. He says seeing how much everyone cares and is there supporting her through letters may be beneficial in the healing process.
According to a Facebook page set up when Jayme disappeared, any letters or well wishes to Jayme or her family, should be sent to:
Light the Way Home for Jayme Closs
PO Box 539
Rice Lake, WI 54868