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Tanya Kach, Pittsburgh-area girl held captive for 10 years, shares story ahead of Lifetime movie premiere

One-on-one with Tanya Kach
One-on-one with Tanya Kach 05:14

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- In 1996, a 14-year-old girl went missing from McKeesport. Ten years later, Tanya Kach was found, after being held captive by a security guard from her middle school.

The story received national attention, and now it's the focus of a new film to be released this weekend.

What she went through is unimaginable but Kach is one of those people who use their story to make change to raise awareness. She knows what happened to her is still happening to young victims today.

After a decade of abuse in captivity, Kach escaped, leaving behind the horrors that happened in this McKeesport home. But the trauma, the mental anguish would stay with her. She says it was faith that got her through.

KDKA-TV's Kym Gable met Kach all those years ago and just sat down with her again ahead of the Lifetime movie premier on Saturday, "The Girl Locked Upstairs."

Kach wants to turn her harrowing ordeal into hope and healing for others.

"Things have not changed, grooming has not changed. None of that has changed in all these years, there's still people out there grooming young girls."

Her captor, the school security guard Thomas Hose, who used gifts and manipulation to lure in 1996, and then, threats and fear, to keep her confined, forcing her to document the daily encounters of sexual abuse.

"I prayed every day, all day, never stopped praying and whenever he finally let me out, I found a church and I went to it. God got me through that," Kach said. 

In 2000, Hose started to let her go outside to run errands. But she never considered it freedom. 

Gable: "And a lot of people say, why didn't she just run? Why didn't she just go?"

Kach: "It's the brainwashing and the mind control. He trained me back then and gave me specific instruction on where to go, what to do, when to come back."

Unbeknownst to Hose, Kach started working a few hours a day at a local convenience store, where she began planning her escape. She gained trust in the store owner and finally, broke her silence. Police showed up that night and rescued her from the house.

The film that depicts all of that is produced by Elizabeth Smart, who herself was kidnapped and held captive at age 14.

"We've talked, personally have talked. What a great survivor she is as well," Kach said. 

Now, both women are dedicated advocates. 

"Yes, it is in my heart to raise awareness. Because I don't want this happening again. I don't want this happening to another young girl. If I can prevent this from happening, I'm more than happy. That's why I agreed to this, is to help people," Kach said. "You know, and it takes a lot of strength and a lot of faith to keep it out there."

Kach also finds strength in her loving relationship with husband Carl and her stepchildren. 

Gable: "Are there some parts of you that are still that 14 year old girl?"

Kach: "Some parts of me, yeah. I'm still in therapy today after 18 years, still getting by."

She's getting by with support from family and friends and with the goal of turning the darkness in her past into a beacon of light for others. 

Kach pointed out that there are so many people out there who may not be physically imprisoned by their abusers, but who are victims nonetheless, being mentally, verbally and sexually abused, manipulated, gaslighted.

What should you watch out for? Watch out for criticism of your family and friends, urging you to distance yourself from loved ones; isolation, forcing you to be only with them; checking on who you're communicating with; and gifts or trinkets of adoration, especially coming from someone older.

Hose was convicted on several counts and released in 2022, registered as a sex offender. He was never charged with kidnapping.

Meanwhile, "The Girl Locked Upstairs," airs Saturday night at 8.

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