Abby Hernandez endured nine months of assault and sexual abuse at the hands of Nate Kibby before walking back home. Through patience and cunning, Abby survived and got Kibby to drop her off a mile from her home. Brad Garrett, a former FBI profiler, said on 20/20:
“If I were going to write a textbook about how victims should deal with abductions, the first chapter would be about Abby. It’s always about bonding to the bad guy.”
“I remember looking up and laughing,” Hernandez described the feeling of freedom after her nine-month ordeal, “just being so happy. Oh my God, this actually happened. I’m a free person. I never thought it would happen to me, but I’m free.”
Abby works as a hairdresser while raising her young son
Abby Hernandez currently works as a hairdresser while raising her young son. She also worked as an executive producer on Girl In The Shed, The Kidnapping of Abby Hernandez, a lifetime movie about her kidnapping and escape.
The first step to healing for Abby was forgiving her captor, which she did during his trial. Hernandez said:
“Some people might call you a monster, but I’ve always looked at you as human. And I want you to know that even though life became a lot harder after that, I still forgive you.”
Hernandez’s abduction gave her a much deeper appreciation for everyday things like sunlight and fresh air. “It really went in my lungs differently… I really try to never take that for granted,” she said.
Another step to healing was participating in the production of Girl In The Shed. She described participating in a movie about her harrowing experience as weird but rewarding. Abby told KGET:
“Obviously, it’s a weird experience to have this happen in the first place. And then to have it made into a movie is obviously like an even weirder experience. But ultimately, I did find it healing in a weird way just to have it out there.”
Hernandez told the outlet that her fear has faded over time. Lindsay Navarro, who portrays Abby in the film, praised Hernandez for her openness and compassion. “She just blew me away with her character,” Navarro told Oxygen.com. She continued:
“She desires to inspire people and that is the point of this movie. Even in the faith of such evil, such wickedness, there can be good. There can be light at the end of it. She wants to […] inspire people in that way, to show that it is possible that you don’t have to be defined by your circumstances.”
“Just don’t lose hope,” Hernandez said on 20/20, “even when you feel like you’ve lost everything, hope is something that nobody can take away from you. And just keep that. And it’ll keep you going.”
Hernandez knew she could escape as long as she stayed alive
Nate Kibby made it painfully clear that he would harm Hernandez if she tried to escape. After abducting her, Nate placed a jacket over her head and broke her cell phone. Kibby tased Hernandez after noticing she was trying to peek out of the makeshift veil.
At his residence, Nate tapped Abby’s eyes, wrapped her head in a shirt, and placed a motorcycle helmet on her. Kibby then abused her for the first of many times. Astonishingly, Hernandez maintained her composure. She recalled:
“I remember thinking to myself, ‘Okay, I got to work with this guy.’ I said, ‘I don’t judge you for this. If you let me go, I won’t tell anybody about this…’ I told him, ‘Look, you don’t seem like a bad person. Like, everybody makes mistakes… If you let me go, I won’t tell anybody about this.’”
Kibby ignored her pleas, throwing Abby into a storage container and continuing his abusive pattern. “I really just wanted to live,” Hernandez said. Nate eventually asked Abby to help him print counterfeit money, showing he’d begun to trust her. However, he reminded her he was still in charge by placing a shock collar on her neck. Abby said:
“I remember he put it on me. And he told me, ‘OK, try and scream.’ And, I just slowly started to raise my voice. And then, it shocked me. So, he’s like, ‘OK, now you know what it feels like.’ “He told me, ‘Call me, call me Master.’”
It appears Nate intended to keep Abby for a long time. Why else would he force Abby to write a letter to her parents stating she was alive but didn’t want to come home? Hernandez tried to inscribe a hidden message on the letter, but Kibby caught her and impelled her to write another one.
Abby’s salvation came via the discovery of Nate’s counterfeiting operation. Lauren Munday, a woman Kibby met online, was arrested for using a fake $50 note given to her by Nate. “I told him [Nate], ‘Whatever you’re making in your damn basement, you better clean it up right now, because they are coming for your ass,’” Munday said on 20/20.
Kibby got rid of everything, including his prisoner. He set her free a mile from her home.