Mental & physical health Resources

for hostages, wrongful detainees, and their families

A kidnapping or wrongful detention can have profound physical and psychological effects on hostages and their family members. Families may be separated from their loved ones from anywhere between several days and several years. Depending on the conditions of their captivity, hostages and wrongful detainees may not have access to sufficient nutrition or medical care throughout some or all of their imprisonment. Many will have faced severe physical deprivation. Upon returning, former hostages and wrongful detainees will have to learn how to get their body out of starvation mode and undo the effects of chronic stress on their brains.

Family members also undergo trauma, waiting for an undetermined amount of time for the return of a loved one, often without reliable information or an ability to make contact with their family member who is being held overseas. While they wait, families must navigate the stress of attending to their loved one’s hostage case, including engaging with the federal government, deciding how and when to inform children and extended family, and preparing themselves for the unpredictability of the captors.

In the case of both family members and former captives, maintaining good physical health through regular exercise, a balanced diet, and attentive medical care is the first step to maintaining good mental health and ultimately surviving a hostage-taking or wrongful detention.

The resources below are intended to offer direction for those who are looking for guidance related to the mental and physical health challenges associated with a kidnapping or wrongful detention.

The following are created by Hostage US:

Here are some additional resources from outside Hostage US that may be helpful:
This website is an excellent place to start when learning about mental health wellness.
This interactive website created by the National Center for PTSD will help you learn about PTSD, compare effective PTSD treatment options, and take action to start treatment. To go directly to the comparison chart chart, click here.

Sidran Institute for Traumatic Stress Education & Advocacy
Part of the mission of Sidran Institute is to connect people with the information they need to cope with traumatic stress and dissociation. Much of that information is here in their Resources section.

This website showcases videos of Veterans, family members, and clinicians as they share their experiences with PTSD and PTSD treatment.

How to Help Someone With PTSD
Learn ways to support your loved one as they manage PTSD symptoms and navigate challenges of healing.

Recovery After Kidnapping
This article is written for survivors of kidnapping and people supporting them.

Handouts for Survivors
These handouts, developed by The National Center for PTSD, include tips for self-care following a trauma or disaster.

To find mental health providers, try searching one of these databases: