What People Are Saying
I was dumbfounded when first notified that a family member was kidnapped abroad. It felt like a part of my brain had gone numb. It was challenging to listen and focus on what all these government workers were saying whilst attempting to take accurate notes of everything at the same time as my mind was still emotionally processing what had just happened. After some time, I made the decision to contact Hostage US. At the end of my first phone call, I already felt calmer. I wish I had reached out to them earlier, as they could have helped me through that initial phase when I was still feeling shocked and overwhelmed with all the meetings and phone calls.
The government was rightly focused on hostage recovery, whereas Hostage US was able to focus on helping me through the process. Hostage US has a consistent calmness that helped me find calmness within myself. I appreciated their ability to stay gracefully unruffled and focused through the challenging days. There were times when the government told me that a decision about how to proceed was up to the family. I did not feel adequately trained or informed to make such decisions, so it helped to have Hostage US there, with whom, I could talk through my thought process and have a neutral group to think ideas out with. The practical support of having someone available to attend meetings with me was incredibly valuable. Hostage US was the one constant in my world when everything else was shifting wildly from one day to the next.
Hostage US supported me through a terrifying experience and challenging aftermath of meetings, briefings, and questions. I am grateful for my own story that Hostage US was there to be that neutral, open party with no outside agenda. I encourage family members faced with the news that a loved one has become a hostage abroad to get in touch with Hostage US as soon as they can, as having someone walk through the journey with you from the beginning can be incredibly helpful and reassuring.
– Family member of hostage currently being held overseas
I absolutely would recommend people reach out to Hostage US. They think of family first and last whether that takes the form of practical needs, counseling support, putting you in touch with other people who have been through the experience, or helping you learn about your situation, how it might progress or about the region where your loved one is being held. It’s very hard to sort through that on your own.
-Kristen Mulvihill, Hostage US Board member and wife of returned hostage David Rhode, kidnapped in Afghanistan
Hostage US helped during Luke’s kidnap, during the time around his death, and now over a year later. As soon as we got in touch, Hostage US were so helpful – and continue to help us. Hostage US even procured a much-needed smartphone during the ordeal and they were available around the clock. The fact that they came to us in Washington state meant so much to us – the personal contact is huge. They continue to help us– we know we can call on them for advice.
They also put us in touch with other hostage families. It was very good corresponding with family members who had gone through the same situation. Hostage US gave me the opportunity to connect with others in that way. In whatever way they could help, they did it.
The situation that hostage families find themselves in is one of the worst times of their lives. It is painful and feels surreal. Hostage US were there for us. I would encourage other families in our situation to reach out to them for help.
-Paula Somers, mother of photojournalist Luke Somers, who was kidnapped and killed in Yemen
“My husband, Bob, was taken hostage in Yemen in February 2014. He was held captive for 18 months and thankfully, he was released in August 2015. We have 3 children who were 14, 17 and 21 when we were first told of his kidnap. I know from experience that children and young people suffer when a parent is kidnapped. It can be difficult to know how to communicate what is happening, how best to support them or to understand what they might need from you.
Throughout the time my husband was away, Hostage UK was a constant support to us all as a family. They gave us advice on the many challenges we had to face. They supported us during meetings with the British government and with advice on where to go next. For my children they gave independent support if they wished which was immensely helpful and enabled them to continue with their lives tackling school exams and new jobs.
It was helpful for my children to have someone to support them outside the family. Someone to talk to about our worries and concerns. And I was appreciative of their advice on what to do for the best for my children.
Since the return of my husband, Hostage UK has continued to support us all through the process of reintegration and the changes in our lives. They are never intrusive but always there when you need them. As a family, we cannot thank them enough.”
– Sallie Semple, wife of Bob Semple, kidnapped in Yemen, released April 2015
I know from personal experience as a hostage that the return home can be a bewildering experience. No matter how long one has been held captive, so much will have changed. Life will have moved on and it may take time to make the necessary readjustments.
At such a time it can be important for both the former hostage and their family to have free access to people who have had a long experience of such matters. Hostage US has been set up to offer support and assistance without any strings attached.
Sometimes, hostages contact us immediately on their release. Others don’t seek support until months or even years later. Hostage US is ready to help whenever it is needed and with a completely confidential service.
-Terry Waite CBE, President and Founder of Hostage UK
“The families of former kidnap victims established Hostage US to be an organization that is by, for and about one thing: helping captives and their families. Hostage US offers support ranging from legal and financial advice to help with health care, counseling and reintegration. The families of kidnap victims are not alone. Others have endured this excruciating, slow-motion crime. Contact Hostage US. We understand, maintain strict confidentiality and are eager to help.”
-David Rohde, journalist, kidnapped in Afghanistan and held for 7 months, and a founding partner of Hostage US