National Hostage and Wrongful Detainees Day

Show your support for the first national holiday recognizing U.S. citizens who have been kidnapped abroad. March 9th, 2024 will mark the first nationally recognized National Hostage and Wrongful Detainee Day which calls on leaders, including the President, to issue an annual proclamation that recognizes the plight of these Americans illegally detained abroad, and to prioritize their freedom. You can … Read More

Hostage US Article: Hostage US Support for the Families of Hostages

Hostage US Support for the Families of Hostages By John Smith. January 2024 Events in the last three months in Israel and Gaza have put the taking of hostages into the spotlight as never before, but the practice is centuries old, and it has become a standard political tactic to put pressure on a perceived opponent.  It remains one of … Read More

Returning to Life at Home

By Katie Symansky Hunter. October 2023 Among the countless challenges faced by former wrongful detainees and hostages upon their return home, is the process of becoming a member of their own family again. It can be jarring to realize that while away, your family has changed. Children have gotten older, spouses have taken on more responsibilities, and extended families may … Read More

Hostage US Article: Life after Detention: Adjusting to a New Normal at Home

By Katie Symansky Hunter, July 2023 In our last quarterly article, we focused on how a wrongful detainment or hostage situation affects family dynamics from the perspective of the one left behind. The partner who is still at home trying desperately to get their loved one home, while also managing the obstacles that make up everyday life. That article can … Read More

Hostage US Article: He’s Home! Now What?

He’s Home! Now What? 3 women talk about reuniting with their loved ones after a wrongful detention. By Katie Symansky- Hunter, April 2023 *The names of individuals and countries are changed for the sake of confidentiality. When your partner is taken away from you, held in a prison cell in a hostile country, and held for no other reason than … Read More

Hostage US Article: Finding Your Center in the Eye of the Storm

Finding Your Center in the Eye of the Storm Hostage US Article By: Katie Symansky Hunter, January 2023 When a loved one is taken hostage or wrongfully detained, it can feel like a cycle of unending ups and downs, alternating hope and worry, optimism, and despair, while we ourselves are prisoners of the uncertainty and shifting tides of changing expectations. … Read More

Hostage US Article: Finding Purpose After a Kidnapping

Finding Purpose After a Kidnapping Hostage US Article July 2022 By Winnie Lee “I believed my purpose died out there in the desert – but it didn’t.” It has been ten years since Jessica Buchanan was released after 93 days of being held hostage by Somali pirates, and although she has come a long way, it has not been easy. … Read More

Hostage & Wrongful Detainment Entities and Stakeholders

Download a PDF of this guide here. There are several people, organizations, government agencies, and nonprofits that might be involved in response or engagement when an American is taken hostage or detained overseas. While Hostage US is completely non-operational and we cannot assist in any response efforts of a hostage situation (i.e., advise on response strategy or be involved in … Read More

Hostage US 2022 Annual Reception Program

Thursday, April 28 In-person and virtual Thank you for your interest in our 2022 Annual Reception, and thank you to all the sponsors who support the work we do. View or download a PDF of the program here.

Fundraising Toolkit for Families of Wrongful Detainees or Hostages

Dealing with the practical challenges of a hostage taking or wrongful detention, including financial issues, managing social media and communications, can add to an already stressful situation for families. Often, families experience financial problems because of the kidnapping or wrongful detention. Your family may be impacted by the loss of your loved one’s income and your ability to earn an … Read More

The Family’s Perspective: Miles Hargrove on “Miracle Fishing”

The Family’s Perspective: Miles Hargrove discusses the making of his feature film, Miracle Fishing, which documents his father’s kidnapping Miles Hargrove’s father, Tom, was kidnapped in Colombia in 1994 while working as an agricultural scientist. During the 11 months of his captivity, his wife Susan encouraged their son Miles to pick up his Super-8 camera to capture some of the … Read More

Hostage US Article: The Conversation of Wrongful Detainment

The Conversation of Wrongful Detainment January 2022 Wrongful detainment. Unlawful imprisonment. Arbitrary detention. Although each of these terms begins with an adjective that describes the unjust nature of the act, the fact that a jail—and therefore an authority—is involved usually requires a little more explanation in conversation. Properly defining these terms will help the public and the world at large … Read More

The Debrief Process for Former Captives

After a hostage or detainee returns home from captivity, they are often asked to take part in different types of de-brief; by law enforcement to gather intelligence and information to help with a prosecution or gain understanding of the group that held them; by their employer to gather lessons learned about what happened to improve policies and procedures; or to … Read More

Former Hostage Reintegration: A Quick Guide

Being held hostage or detained – whether for a few days, weeks, months or even years – can be a terrifying and life changing experience. No matter how long you were held for, it can take time to heal and recover. Hostage US is here to help you each step of the way. What you might experience It is not … Read More

Considering Book Deals as a Former Hostage

Hostage US does not have expertise on securing book deals or selling life rights. However, after consulting with former hostages and family members who have been through this process, along with a number of agents, we have produced this brief which explains the basic options open to those wishing to tell their story, along with a list of agents we … Read More

Surviving Survival with Jessica Buchanan

Jessica Buchanan, held captive in Somalia for 93 days, talks about the challenges of “surviving survival” and the importance of a peer-to-peer network for newly returned hostages.

Supporting a Loved One After Release

As a family member, you might be wondering how you can help support your loved one who was recently released. The guidance below explains some areas to focus on and some challenges to look out for as your loved one is rebuilding their life. Hostage US can help your loved one with reintegration and rebuilding their life after being held … Read More

Financial Considerations for Families

While your loved one is being held hostage, you might find yourself overseeing their finances. This guide will give you an idea of what to consider as you are working through their finances. It will help have an organized list of everything related to your loved one’s finances either in a notebook or in a protected document on your computer. … Read More

Social Media Tips to Increase Engagement

This document provides high level suggestions for families of hostages and wrongful detainees advocating for the return of their loved one on social media, and Twitter in particular. These suggestions are intended to help create compelling and impactful content to increase engagement and reach. If you are working with a media consultant, it is important to speak with that person … Read More

Preparing an Agenda and Questions for Meetings with Government Officials

Guidance: Taking time to create an agenda and a list of questions for your meeting with government officials will ensure that you address your top concerns regarding your case.  As you write your questions, keep them short and separated.  If you ask too many questions all at once, you are less likely get answers for everything.  Since you will have … Read More

Planning for In-Person Meetings with government officials

The following questions can be asked of the government when you are traveling to Washington, DC to meet with government officials. Travel Can the you set up travel logistics such as flights and hotels? Can you pay directly for the travel costs? Can you make the hotel reservations? The government occasionally has negotiated rates at pre-set government approved locations. Family … Read More

Hostage US Services

You do not need to go through this alone – Hostage US is here to help you and offer support that is tailored to your needs – confidential and free of charge. You will have a dedicated Hostage US supporter by your side every step of the way. Through our support program, we can: Talk about your experience and what … Read More

Creating a Family Member Fact Sheet

Creating a factsheet for a family member being held hostage is a useful way to consolidate the plight of the family’s efforts to get the hostage home if they have decided to go public with the story. The fact sheet can be sent to journalists who typically want to read something short and concise. At first contact, journalists are not … Read More

A List of Resources for Self Help and Resiliency

Here you will find a list of resources compiled by the Hostage US network of supporters and beneficiaries. These websites, apps, and books have been found to be useful in self-directed wellbeing.  These are resources for resilience, stress management, living with trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more. Other suggestions for managing stress and anxiety include maintaining a daily routine, … Read More

The Trauma Therapy Network of Hostage US

Stephen Regal explains the importance of having a network of trauma therapy providers who can offer specialized care to hostages and their families.  Hostage US can help you find a trained provider in your area.

Family Health During a Kidnapping

When a family hears a loved one is captured, it’s shocking.  In this video, Kristen Mulvihill describes the challenges families face when a loved one is held hostage, and how critical it is to take care of yourself and maintain a sense of routine to make it through. Family health during a kidnapping from Hostage US on Vimeo.

Hostage US 2021 Annual Report

Please take some time to read about our accomplishments over the past year in our 2021 Annual Report. Thank you for your commitment to our critical mission. Download the PDF here.

Hostage US Article: It Takes a Tribe

It Takes a Tribe October 2021 When a loved one is taken hostage or wrongfully detained abroad, it’s a steep learning curve for the family involved. There is a sudden and immediate break from the trajectory of a familiar reality and families often feel thrust into a web of government meetings, accumulating expenses, legal questions, exhaustion, terror, and isolation. Likewise, … Read More

Former Hostage Talks: The Hardest Part

Hear directly from former hostages in this Hostage US podcast as they describe captivity. Each former hostage talks about the experience of being kidnapped, living in captivity, and what it was like for their families back home. They also explain the challenges involved in coming home and navigating reintegration and the process of healing after being held. Thank you to … Read More

Hostage US Article: Hostage Shaming

Hostage US Article, July 2021 Hostage Shaming By Winnie Lee Shame is one of the most painful, toxic, and self-destructive emotions a person can have. It involves feelings of guilt, regret, embarrassment, or sadness surrounding the belief that you have done something wrong. Jessica Buchanan, who was held in Somalia for 93 days, says that “shame is probably the number … Read More

MSG & CEO Damon Walsh 5k race for Hostage US

Damon Walsh, CEO and Co-Founder of Mission Solutions Group (MSG) and a team of MSG runners are racing to raise money for Hostage US in the Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K and Half Marathon! Damon has gone above and beyond by spearheading this team with a fundraising goal of $5000 going toward the families and hostages we serve. Join MSG and their … Read More

Mental and Emotional Impacts of Stress

This article highlights the impact of stress on a variety on mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. It also discusses possible personality changes that can result from high levels of stress.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Helping Others Through Grief

This article helps highlight common misconceptions about interacting with those that are grieving, from feeling a need to say something or relating to personal past grief. It provides tips to best help those experiencing grief process their loss and the emotions that come with it.

Vicarious Trauma Tool Kit

This article from the Office of Victims of Crime covers vicarious trauma, its symptoms and its effects. It covers who is at risk for experiencing vicarious trauma and suggestions to minimize risk for experiencing it.

Vicarious Trauma

This article touches upon the different types of symptoms that are associated with vicarious trauma, varying from behavioral to cognitive. It discusses the effects of vicarious trauma on mental health and self-care tips to prevent or reduce risk for vicarious trauma.

Working with Trauma Survivors: What Workers Need to Know

This article from the US Department of Veterans Affairs touches upon different reactions that trauma survivors can have when receiving treatment and how to best accommodate these. It also touches upon vicarious trauma and the effects it can have on a worker in both the professional and personal setting.

Vicarious Trauma Fact Sheet

This fact sheet helps explain different signs and symptoms of someone experiencing vicarious trauma and how it can effect a person in both a professional and personal setting.