My job led to my being taken captive, held hostage, threatened with death, and taped with explosives. Sound familiar? I know about the realities of what the survivors of the recent Discovery Building Hostage crisis will now have to face.
Today I am a survivor, advocate, commentator and expert, and was the 2010 keynote speaker at the Florida Association of Hostage Negotiators. I am passionate about educating and raising the level of awareness about the realities so many struggle with in the aftermath of violent trauma. As a steering committee member for SAMHSA's Child Traumatic Stress Initiative and the author and producer of the Lifetime book-to-film project entitled Held Hostage, set for DVD release September 14, 2010, it has taken years to come to the point where I can not only speak out without shame, but to begin to see some changes in regards to efforts to remove the labels attached to so many mental health conditions, especially post-trauma.
What are we going to do for them now that it is over, after the media settles down? I keep hearing they are "unharmed." But that is not exactly true. They have invisible wounds and physiological damage they will need to learn how to cope with, manage and heal from. It is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
After surviving the kidnapping and hostage ordeal, my daughter and I were also left physically unharmed, but the emotional damage was severe for us both. PTSD is REAL, but treatable. There is hope, and healing. It is my hope that a team of experts and survivors will be sent to Discovery to reach out to the survivors and train other employees about the realities of PTSD so that they may be able to support the survivors and their families in the most positive, educated way possible.