American citizens continue to be targeted by criminal and terrorist groups worldwide.
Over 200 Americans are estimated to be taken hostage abroad each year, and many more are wrongfully detained. They are taken in countries including Afghanistan, Myanmar, China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Philippines, Rwanda, Russia, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, Yemen and more.
This experience is terrifying for everyone involved. Family members have a steep learning curve when they learn news of their loved one. As they work tirelessly to bring this person home, unforeseen issues arise, and families are quickly overwhelmed and often left wondering who can help. Similarly, when a former hostage or wrongful detainee returns home, navigating reintegration challenges can be confusing, exhausting, and seem insurmountable.
Hostage US stands ready to assist, ensuring that no family or former captive has to go through this experience alone.
We are an entirely independent and confidential support service without any ties to government or political influence. Services for families of hostage and wrongful detainees are lacking in the US and we fill that gap. We are not duplicating support available elsewhere in cases such as child abduction or domestic kidnaps, but we are addressing a growing need to support families of US citizens taken hostage or wrongfully detained abroad.
We walk with families throughout the ordeal and with hostages and wrongful detainees through their reintegration once they return home. We provide guidance, advice and information to solve the various challenges and issues they face. We make connections with professional services including financial advisory, legal advisory, and medical care and make connections to mental health experts, media experts, and country experts.
Our services are delivered free of charge and in confidence. Our focus is on the family – we are family first and family last.
"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. 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."
Family member of former hostage held in the Middle East
“The words “thank you” do not even come close to describing how grateful our family is to have Hostage US be there for us during my father’s incarceration. We have formed a special bond with our Hostage US contact that makes us feel like someone cares for our wellbeing. The bond we have formed is meaningful, caring and genuine. Hostage US has exceeded our expectations. The work and dedication Hostage US brings to our father’s case is something my family and I will forever be grateful for and will never forget."
Sons a former wrongful detainee held in Africa.
“We were given new hope being able to contact Hostage US. The fact that they came to visit us meant so much to us. Also the fact that they were available around the clock. We were given names of 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.”
Mother of a hostage killed in a failed rescue attempt.
“Starting in the weeks just after my release – a time when I felt the most insecure, vulnerable and confused – I was introduced to Hostage US as a resource. Two and a half years later it continues to be a source of support, comfort and practical assistance on challenges I’m not sure I could have managed otherwise.
Hostage US has provided this assistance gracefully and without judgement. Each situation is different, and they understand that every no two paths to recovery will ever be exactly the same.”
Former hostage held in the Middle East for 18 months.
What Families Experience
While attention rightly focuses on the return of the hostage or wrongful detainee, the families are victims throughout the kidnapping as well.
They may face days, months or years not knowing whether their loved one is alive or dead.
They are often helpless to do anything to bring about their release when demands are political or financially outside their means.
They struggle to get access to information about the case as information might be classified or come through a third party rather than be delivered directly to the family.
They face practical challenges, such as changed financial circumstances if the captive’s salary is not paid or there are expenses related to the hostage taking or wrongful detention.
They have difficulty accessing bank accounts or insurance policies in the captive's name.
They struggle to manage the captive’s personal property, finances and other accounts while they are being held.
Most families are advised to keep events secret from even close family and friends, which places a tremendous burden on them.
They suffer the myriad of effects of prolonged trauma and anxiety.
What hostages and wrongful detainees experience
Returning home and being free from a captivity situation is wonderful. The family and the returning captive are understandably ecstatic to be reunited.
With all the joy that comes with returning home, comes the start of a new period of challenge and change for both the former hostage or wrongful detainee and their family.
The former captive 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. Some may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
They may be coming to terms with their experiences, their loss of control or their mortality.
They might also be suffering the very severe impacts of prolonged loss of sleep or poor sleep patterns, such as difficulty focusing and retaining information, depression or mood swings.
They might have practical problems resulting from their captivity including financial issues, poor credit ratings, fines from not paying bills or fines for not filing taxes in a timely manner.