Dealing with the impacts of trauma

A kidnapping is a traumatic event. You may experience a number of different reactions to having been held hostage, all of which are entirely normal given the circumstances. It is important to look out for signs that you might be suffering, but remember that very few former hostages go on to experience long-term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – most are able to recover and go on to live happy and fulfilled lives. See Dealing With the Impacts of Trauma

In general terms, the psychological impact of being taken hostage is similar to that of being exposed to other trauma, including terrorist attacks and natural disasters. There are many potential reactions.

You might experience cognitive problems, such as impaired memory and concentration; confusion and disorientation; intrusive thoughts or ‘flashbacks’ and memories; denial, perhaps that the kidnapping happened; and hyper-vigilance and hyper-arousal which is a state of feeling too aroused, with a profound fear of being kidnapped again.

You might have emotional reactions, such as shock and numbness; fear and anxiety, although panic is not common; helplessness and hopelessness; dissociation, such as feeling numb and ‘switched off’ emotionally; anger which could be directed at anyone, such as the perpetrators, the authorities or yourself; anhedonia, a loss of pleasure in doing things that you previously enjoyed; depression; and guilt, whether at having survived if others died, or for being taken hostage.

You might also experience social problems, such as feeling withdrawn; irritable; or practicing avoidance, such as of anything that reminds you of the event.

Most hostages make a full recovery from their experiences. Even those who go on to suffer from PTSD can overcome these problems with the right care and treatment. Hostage UK can help you get the right support, so you will not have to go about your recovery alone.