Coming home after captivity is a happy occasion – you are free, you can see your family and friends again, and you can start to rebuild your life.

It can also be a lonely experience and the process of reintegrating can be difficult. You might face initial challenges. Your health might be impacted, you might have trouble sleeping or need to gain weight, you will need to rebuild relationships and adjust to life at home again.

Don’t give up hope – you will get through this and Hostage US is here to support you every step of the way.

Download the Reintegration Guide.

What you might experience

It is not unusual for people returning from captivity to experience a range of things – you are having a normal reaction to an abnormal experience. Don’t be afraid by this – seek out the help you need to recover in your own time.

You might have difficulty concentrating

You might have problems sleeping, experience nightmares or have flashbacks

You might have physical injuries that need to be taken care of

You might feel anger about what you experienced

You might have problems readjusting to being back with your family

Everyone reacts differently. There is no pressure to “get over” things – take your time to heal and seek out the help you need.

Debrief process

One of the first things you are likely to be asked to do is take part in a ‘de-brief’ – this is a meeting or series of meetings with government officials. Their aim is to understand what happened, gather information that could help hostages that remain in captivity or assist with an investigation and eventual prosecution of the people who held you. The process will be conducted by experts and supported by trauma specialists and there might be more than one de-brief depending on how many teams were involved in your release.

This can be difficult – you will be asked to relive your experiences. If conducted well, many hostages have described this as being an important first step in their recovery.

During this time, do what feels right for you. If you wish to have some contact with your family, do not be afraid to ask for it. You don’t have to feel isolated from your family. Take it at your own pace. If you don’t feel comfortable with the person conducting the debrief, ask for someone else.

Immediate medical needs

You may need to seek immediate emergency medical attention following your release if you have injuries that are serious, whether sustained during a rescue attempt or as a result of the conditions of your captivity. If you haven’t been offered a medical examination when you are released, make an appointment with your doctor and ask for a thorough medical checkup. You might also need to see an emergency dentist.

Immediate medical needs should be dealt with soon after you return home. Lingering medical issues can slow down your recovery process. See the page "Getting Back to Life" for more information on medical needs.