Counseling for Hostage Victims

Counseling for Hostage VictimsA hostage situation will touch the lives of many people. The survivor certainly receives most of the physical and emotional pain, but her loved ones, witnesses and even strangers may also be affected by the terrorizing event. Many violent crimes can spawn similar pain. Rape, torture and being held at gunpoint are just a few life-fearing situations people may face during a hostage situation.

While the physical damage of surviving hostage situation may be severe, the psychological repercussions are drastically worse. Experiencing a hostage situation is traumatic for the victim; without immediate treatment, the consequences can be tragic. Counseling and other treatment options are vital for victims of hostage situations and other crimes.

Consequences of Surviving a Hostage Situation

Many hostage victims feel completely alone after surviving an event of that magnitude. They often isolate themselves from friends, family and others wanting to help, because it seems like no one will or could ever understand how they feel. A victim of crime typically distrusts others, so opening up and expressing vulnerable feelings is not a risk the hostage victim is likely to take. Because of this many hostage victims do not get the care and treatment they need to cope with an event of this magnitude.

Without treatment many hostage victims suffer from heartbreaking consequences that cripples them in any of the following ways:

  • Isolation from others
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Paranoia, flashbacks, nightmares, hallucinations or psychosis
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Substance abuse, addiction
  • Self-harming behaviors, suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • Self-hatred, low self-esteem, guilt
  • Anger, hostility or the desire for vengeance

These issues are common and will prevent survivors from functioning at work, home or in society. More importantly, without getting help a hostage victim may suffer so much psychological damage that he destroys any chance of returning to his life before the event. Counseling and other treatment can prevent these possible tragedies from occurring.

Psychological Effects of Hostage Victims

A common psychological reaction in hostage situations is known as Stockholm syndrome, where the victim develops an emotional bond with the captors. This reaction is quite common and is seen in those who survive other violent crimes, such as abuse or rape, prisoners of war, cult members and individuals in controlling or intimidating relationships. In order to survive, victims adapt and develop an emotional attachment, which causes hostage victims to feel like authorities are the actual threat. Stockholm syndrome is characterized by the following criteria:

  • Positive feelings from the victim to the captor and vice versa
  • Negative feelings from the victim towards friends, family, authorities or individuals who vilify the captor
  • The victim justifying the captor’s actions and reasons behind the criminal activity
  • The victim attempting to help the criminal
  • The victim refusing to end the relationship with the criminal or assist

If any of these behaviors characterize you after a traumatic experience, seek help today for your problematic issues.

Help for Hostage Victims

If you or a loved one was a victim of a hostage situation or other violent crime, it is urgent to get help as soon as you can. Call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline to speak with a recovery professional about finding the help you or a loved one needs. Recovery professionals can answer questions, address concerns, provide information and help you find counseling and other treatment services to meet your exact needs.