The August 10, 2000 kidnapping of 8-year-old Midsi Sanchez was as typical as it was unique. Like 1/3 of all attempted child abductions in the United States, Midsi was taken by a dangerous predator while walking home from school. However, unlike most who went before her, Midsi utilized her own skills and street smarts to escape almost certain death.
“In the beginning, when I came home, everybody wanted to know what happened from A to Z, but I didn’t want to share my story for other people’s entertainment,” she told me recently. “That included kids at school and counselors. Pretty much everybody but my family.”
Because she refused to share her story Midsi did not receive psychological counseling and she became an object of ridicule and bullying at school and on the street. She responded to these abuses the same way that she responded to the kidnapper: defiantly fighting her tormentors almost daily for the next several years.
Her family, on the other hand, swept her ordeal under the rug. “They didn’t want to talk about it. Even now, when they interviewed for this show, it was very hard for them,” she said. “I was a hot mess. I was stuck, stagnant and in turmoil for all those years. I couldn’t move forward. I didn’t care about myself or anybody else. At one point I thought I was so gangster that I wanted to go to prison.”
“I got drunk at 12 and didn’t sober up until Sandra Cantu went missing in 2009. I knew that if I shared my story with her family it would give them hope because I got away successfully. So I did. Things started falling into place because I got to see what happens on the other side. For 10 days I felt connected and powerful, because I was part of something bigger than myself. I was connected to the community and God and Sandra. Her soul was with me. I felt her in me. We were similar in so many ways and I was sure that she would come home alive.”
“When Sandra was found dead I was devastated. I took it personally and started drinking again. Six months later I was almost killed in a DUI automobile accident. Then I found out that I was pregnant. I cried when the doctor said that I was having a girl. Life was so hard and I feared so for her safety, but you know what? Had I not gotten pregnant I probably would have stayed on the path to destruction, but now I needed to be strong and sober for my little girl. I needed Annelyse so much. She saved my life.”
“It helps to work with a good production crew because I have worked with other people who are not so nice. My experience on this show was amazing. I felt like they really cared about me and my family which is very important because my mom and sister were re-traumatized by getting in front of the camera to tell my story.”
“Now I tell my story because there is a purpose, it is not about entertainment. I share my story because it is necessary for others to understand that survival is possible and that one can become positive in life because of it. I represent every victim and I am the voice for every missing child because I have been there and I have done that. Marc, each time we put ourselves in these positions to help families, I get stronger and it gets easier and I truly think that we grow by helping others.”