Why Didn't She Run?
“When Tom’s parents would come knock on his bedroom door, it was my cue to jump up and get in the closet," Tanya remembers. "We’re talking about a closet where a person can barely fit, and I could barely shut the door. It was very narrow. But the most time I spent in that closet was Christmas Eve for four years. I would hear everybody downstairs opening gifts. It’s the one thing that will always stick with me that I can never forget. I will never forget sitting in a closet on Christmas Eve for four years. It was horrible.”

Tanya explains why Christmas Eve was the most painful time every year.


[AD]Although Tanya was forced to wear the clothing of her captor and his son, she says Tom bought her makeup and hair dye to keep her looking how he wanted.

Dr. Phil asks about the nights she was allowed downstairs to wash clothes or dye her hair. “If his parents had seen you, if they had gotten up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water and seen you, what would’ve happened?” he asks.

“He was always standing guard, listening to see if they were up, walking around above, and if he heard any kind of a noise, I had to run down to the basement and hide behind the furnace,” she says.
In a previous interview, Tanya says she didn't see a doctor for 10 years and now she's plagued with health problems. “There were many times I was sick. I had pneumonia, a lot of tooth problems. I had chronic migraines — nothing to take for them. And now all those health problems are back to haunt me. I have two clotting disorders, blood clots in my lungs last year. I had to have a full hysterectomy at 29. I can never bear my own child, and I have diverticulosis,” she says sadly. Tanya says she still has problems with her teeth and her vision.

Back onstage, Dr. Phil says, “I assume that you weren’t on birth control."

“No, I wasn’t,” Tanya says. “By the grace of God, I didn’t get pregnant. We had a couple of scares where, probably the stress I was under and the sexual abuse, I didn’t have a period, and his reaction to it was, ‘Well, if you don’t get one, and you are pregnant, you’re dead. I will kill you.’”

[AD]“What would happen when you got a toothache, a headache, a sore throat?” Dr. Phil asks.

“He would tell me to suck it up. And I had many, many toothaches, and I would roll up a wet paper towel, and I would bite on it and hold it, because it relieved the pain.” Tanya says the worst was when she got pink eye in both eyes. Her eyes swelled shut, and she never received any medical attention.
After four years trapped in a bedroom, Tanya was finally allowed to leave her secret hideaway. In a previous interview, she remembers the first day she was allowed outside:

“In 2000, I don’t now what came over Tom, but he decided that while he was getting ready for work in the morning, while his parents were sleeping, that he would let me sit on the back porch. I’d stare up at the sky, the stars, the moon,” she says. “In March of 2000, his parents when to Atlantic City for three days, and that’s when Tom gave me $120 to go to the little department store, Anne’s, so I could go out and buy girls’ clothes, because for four years, I was wearing Tom and his son’s clothes. Tom had bought me one of those pre-paid cell phones, so he could constantly keep in contact with me. He would call. It was just to make sure he knew where I was at all times.

"It felt good to go out, yet it was very scary because I hadn’t been out in public for four years. I was a deer in the headlights. Yet, it’s kind of like I was on a mission. It was just like a magnet. I had to get back to him. Don’t make him angry. Don’t make him angry. I did exactly what he told me to do. At that point, it never crossed my mind that I could run away. I was so brainwashed. The farthest that I ever went was to the bus station. Even if I had walked by a police station, I was too scared to go in.”

Dr. Phil asks about Tanya's father, who lived less than two miles from where she was being held. 

“When we moved into the city, where everything happened, my father just forgot he even had a daughter anymore,” Tanya says tearfully. “I would get in trouble in school for whatever reason, and my dad just blew it off. He was just so involved with his girlfriend at the time and her son that he just forgot that he had a daughter. I got no love and no attention anymore from my father.”

[AD]Dr. Phil’s studio audience goes home with a copy of Tanya’s book, Memoir of a Milk Carton Kid.

The conversation continues in Part 2. Find out how Tanya finally escaped!