Why our work matters
Impact on families
Having a loved one kidnapped is a frightening and lonely experience. While attention rightly focuses on bringing the hostage safely home, their families are victims too.
They face days, months – sometimes years – not knowing whether their loved one is alive or dead. They are often incapable of doing anything to bring about their loved one’s release when demands are political or financially outside their means. They feel helpless.
They struggle to get access to information about the case as this comes via the government or the hostage’s employer.
They face practical challenges, such as changed financial circumstances, especially when the hostage is the main breadwinner. In some cases, the hostage’s employer cannot continue to pay their salary or the family experience difficulty accessing bank accounts or insurance policies in the hostage’s name.
Most families are advised to keep events secret from even their close relatives and friends, which places a tremendous burden on them. And they suffer the myriad effects of prolonged trauma and acute anxiety but struggle to get access to appropriate emotional support and counselling.
Impact on hostages
Getting the hostage home is what everyone has worked so hard to achieve. The family and the returning hostage are understandably ecstatic to be reunited.
Coming home can be the start of a new period of challenge and change for both the hostage and their family and friends.
The hostage is likely to suffer physically as a result of their captivity. They may have severe malnutrition. They may have extreme muscle wastage after months or years of limited movement. They may have picked up a virus or disease that has gone untreated in the absence of medical assistance. They may have dental problems if they have not been able to brush their teeth.
They might also be impacted psychologically. Perhaps they have been held in solitary confinement for prolonged periods. Perhaps they have been tortured or psychologically abused. They may be coming to terms with their experiences, their loss of control, their mortality. Some may go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD.
They might also be suffering the very severe impacts of prolonged loss of sleep, such as difficulty focusing and retaining information, depression or mood swings, and continued poor sleep patterns.
How Hostage International helps
Hostage International provides support, care and professional services to families to help get them through what is a frightening and lonely experience. No family should have to go through this alone.
We provide each family with a member of our team as their go to person. They become their navigator, helping them to make sense of what is happening and what they are told.
They can answer questions about how the government works, why they are being asked for a DNA sample in the early days of a kidnapping, how to organise their information and notes, and give them tips about how to cope with everything from managing the day-to-day practical issues associated with the kidnap to dealing with the impacts of sleep deprivation and anxiety.
Hostage International is by their side every step of the way, and for as long as they need.
Hostage International also helps families to access professional services. When a hostage’s salary is not paid during their kidnapping, their family struggles to make ends meet. We are able to get them access to financial advisors to assess their financial options, help them to make decisions and offer a strategy for coping during and after the kidnapping to keep them on their feet financially.
If the partner of a hostage is struggling to access bank accounts, investments or other assets in their joint name they might need a lawyer to advise or help them to secure a Power of Attorney. We are able to offer them assistance, providing the necessary professional skills and contacts and reducing the stress and anxiety that such matters can create.
When a hostage returns home they may need medical treatment, a mental health assessment, and ongoing care and treatment. We are able to ensure hostages get the specialist health care they need.
Hostage International support is delivered entirely free of charge. We are independent of outside interests. And we are a confidential service.