Hannah Anderson is trying to be strong, friends say - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Hannah Anderson is trying to be strong, friends say

By Michael Pearson, CNN
updated 11:18 AM EDT, Fri Aug 16, 2013


  • Kidnapping survivor Hannah Anderson is "acting strong for everyone" a friend says
  • A psychotherapist says she sees signs of strength in Hannah's online postings
  • But she says grief will catch up with the girl after the spotlight fades
  • Authorities rescued Hannah last weekend

(CNN) -- On the outside, kidnapping survivor Hannah Anderson seems to be, in the words of a friend, "doing great."

She seems her usual bubbly self, friends say, the Hannah who puts others before herself.

But there are hints, they say, of the trauma the 16-year-old California girl suffered when, according to authorities, family friend James DiMaggio killed her mother and 8-year-old brother and kidnapped her.

"She's, like, acting strong for everyone and I think that's more of just, like, for her appearance, friend Alyssa Haugum said on CNN's "New Day" on Friday.

"But I can tell that there's something inside of her that's upset," Haugum said. "Like when we're all, like, having a good time and once everyone stops laughing she gets kind of this serious look on her face."

Hannah endured what would seem for most people an unspeakable horror -- being kidnapped by a family friend who killed her mother and brother, and then spirited her away to the woods.

A chance encounter with horseback riders who reported the pair to authorities led to her rescue after a brief gunfight between DiMaggio and Hannah's rescuers. DiMaggio was killed.

While she has not spoken publicly since her release, she has seemed unusually outspoken on social media, where she has shared details of her ordeal and her feelings in response to questions from friends and strangers alike.

Her postings on the social media site ask.fm -- since taken down -- have generated some controversy among some who question why she seemed so upbeat despite all that she had been through. They note she answered questions about what would in any other context be typical teen fodder -- boys, nails, hair and music -- among revelations about her capture and whether she is happy that DiMaggio is dead.

"Absolutely," she posted.

But Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist and co-author of "Till Death Do Us Part," said the posts actually could be a sign she's coping well with the trauma -- so far at least.

"I actually think it's healthy and a sign of ego strength that here's a 16-year-old girl and she wants to do what normal 16-year-olds do," Ludwig said on "New Day."

"And I think it's really smart of her to talk, to try to put what happened to her in perspective and the way 16-year-olds do. That is, they turn to social media," she said.

"She wants a support system. She's getting that when she's talking and interacting with people, so that's healthy."

Hannah addressed the issue herself on the ask.fm site.

"I'm trying to stay strong. And get out the truth," she wrote. "You don't know I could be crying answering these questions at the moment."

It's in Hannah's personality to try to be strong for everyone else, said friend Kylah Hayes.

"She's really like an outstanding person," Hayes said on "New Day." "Like, she's always like putting others before her."

But, Ludwig said, Hannah is almost certainly in "denial and shock."

"What has happened to her probably doesn't even feel real yet," Ludwig said.

And that she would seem to look good from the outside, even able to talk about mundane teen interests despite losing two family members and enduring a harrowing ordeal at the hands of someone who had been a family friend shouldn't be altogether surprising.

"This is not the most difficult time for someone who is grieving because you have a lot of support of people around you, a lot of attention," she said.

Darker times are almost certainly ahead for the girl, Ludwig suggested.

"The difficulty comes when everybody forgets and you're left in your life, one year, two years, three years down the road, and the people and the crowds are not there."

That's in part why Hannah's rural community came together Thursday to host a fundraiser for her.

The money raised will go toward Hannah's needs in the future. Any extra will be donated to support exploited children, said her father, Brett Anderson.

He added his own take on how she's doing: "Hannah sends her love. She's doing good day by day, and we'll keep moving forward from here."

CNN's Casey Wian, Greg Botelho, Ed Payne, Matt Smith and Paul Vercammen contributed to this report.

Article on CNN.com

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