RECOVERY Over the Long Term After Captivity

Rebuilding your life does take time. There is no quick fix and you will do it at your own pace and in your own way. Be patient and kind to yourself.

Try to establish some kind of routine, order or pattern to your everyday life.

Seek support when you need it. You don’t have to travel this journey on your own.

You are likely to experience an emotional rollercoaster for the first year at least but you will learn to ride it and not be frightened by it.

You will build a new life for yourself and your family and in time your life will feel easier. You might re-evaluate your priorities and as a result life might look different to what it was before you were kidnapped.

Your experience will become a memory and you have the capacity to control that memory. There may be times when these memories are triggered. This is natural and to be expected. You can allow them to come out of their box – and you can also put them back in there. For more information, download the Reintegration Guide.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after you have been through a traumatic event, such as a kidnapping. During a traumatic event, you think that your life or others’ lives are in danger. You may feel afraid or feel that you have no control over what is happening around you.

Most people who have been through a traumatic experience have some stress-related reactions afterwards. This is a normal reaction. Not every former hostage will develop PTSD. If you do, this does not mean there is something wrong with you or you have done something wrong.

PTSD symptoms might start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than four weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you might have PTSD.

There are four types of symptoms of PTSD.

  1. Re-experiencing: You relive the event through flashbacks, bad memories, nightmares during which you feel like you’re going through the event again.
  2. Avoidance: You try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event, and you may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
  3. Negative changes in beliefs or feelings: The way you think about yourself and others may change because of the trauma. You may feel fear, guilt, or shame. Or, you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy. This is another way to avoid memories.
  4. Hyper-arousal: You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. You may also have trouble concentrating or sleeping.

See our video describing the symptoms of PTSD and treatment options.

If you are worried you might be experiencing PTSD, no matter how long ago you were released, Hostage US is here to help you. Please get in touch.