haiti kidnapping victim
Magdala "Dadou" Louis, of Port-au-Prince, was kidnapped on Dec. 6, 2020, then released Dec. 8 after a ransom was paid.

By Bobb Rousseau | Diaspora Matters

Does Haiti have social programs that facilitate the reintegration of kidnapped victims into their community? Do employers and spiritual leaders provide emotional support to the members of their organizations? At this point, we all agree that it is easy for victims to catch themselves reliving the same traumatic event as if it has been happening to them all over again.  

Haiti lacks social programs to help victims reunite with their loved ones and reintegrate into society after their kidnappers release them. They carry the burden of developing and applying their coping mechanisms to deal with the after-effects of kidnapping. Sadly, the government does not have an accurate number of kidnapped individuals, nor are the police included in the negotiations or coordination to release the victims.

The media works closely with the family to inform the public and the police throughout all the phases. While in their predators’ hands, it is impossible to know going through their heads, although we, as a society, fight for their release. However, have we ever wondered how they deal with the emotional pain, the psychological disconnect, and the traumatic discomfort they endured.  Relatives and close friends are the only support they have. However, they are not qualified to encourage them to talk and understand post-traumatic stress or the panic disorders these victims may be facing.  

The place of their kidnapping may become to them a memorable landmark associated with fear and uneasy feelings. They may experience flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. The sound of gunshots, hearing a car backfire, or being approached by strangers in a vehicle may be the trigger that takes them back to the torture place to make them relive the traumatic event as if it is repeatedly happening.  

There is no specific time for disturbing thoughts and feelings about a traumatic event to appear. However, unruly behaviors related to terrifying events may lead to intrusive memories, avoidance, negative thinking and mood changes, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.

Thus, these programs are needed to help the victims get their lives back under control. Otherwise, they will feel permanently victimized and lost in a community that offers them a new reality.  Since the country lacks programs to identify psychological symptoms and provide the support these victims need to reintegrate into their community, civil society members should launch support groups to encourage them to reach out to someone or a close friend.

At a minimum, a medical or psychosomatic hotline number line must be available to them if they face difficulties or tend to re-enact the event.  Victims of kidnapping tend to develop suicidal thoughts and feel withdrawn, and for such a reason, they must not stay alone too long. Any doubt that they are not adjusting well must be reported to professionals who can provide the necessary support. 

Bobb Rousseau

Bobb Rousseau holds a Ph.D. in Administration and Public Policy with specializations in Public Law and Managing Local Government. Dr. Rousseau firmly believes that the Haitian diaspora in the United States...

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