Saturday, July 19, 2008

Former Colombian hostages face lasting trauma

Fernando Vergara / AP
Former hostage John Freddy Diaz, pictured in Bogota on Tuesday, was captured in 1998 by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and released in 2001.

Former Colombian hostages face lasting trauma
The pain of a kidnapping rarely ends with liberation
updated 3:26 a.m. ET, Sat., July. 19, 2008
BOGOTA, Colombia - Former Colombian rebel captive John Freddy Diaz knows something that recently freed hostages may just be discovering: The pain of a kidnapping doesn't end with liberation.

Seven years after his release, the tall, 31-year-old former army private hardly works and feels bitterly alienated. He says he's prone to self-injury and fits of violence against strangers.

"I've had lots of crises," said Diaz, who was held captive for three years — far shorter than most. He sobbed as he admitted to occasionally beating his head against walls and "trying to hit people I don't even know."

Many will face a life of disorientation, insomnia and panic, not to mention broken marriages and strained family relations, mental health professionals say.

"Victims leave a kidnapping psychologically disoriented in a big way, and it increases according to the intensity and length of their captivity," said Ismael Roldan, former director of the National University's department of psychiatry.
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