Captain Wren Thomas, of the C-Retriever, has spoken about how alone he felt after returning from 18 days in captivity under violent Nigerian pirates. After the harrowing and life-changing event, Thomas felt like a different person, and no one was contacting him to ask how he was doing or to offer any support or answers. As he struggled to adjust to a “new normal,” Thomas felt like he had been abandoned to recover on his own and was becoming a burden to his family. Although he was an ex-Marine, a well-respected captain, and had been traveling in high-risk areas for his employer for years, he felt like he didn’t have anywhere to turn now that the almost-inevitable worst had happened. Thomas says that, at times, he has felt suicidal and is still struggling with the trauma of the event now, five months later.
Sadly, this feeling isn’t unusual among crews who have been attacked or kidnapped by pirates. They may find it difficult to talk about what happened, and they often don’t get the support they need from their employers. In fact, shipping companies often take great pains to keep employees quiet and keep their stories out of the news. As they run into more difficulties negotiating post-event support, traumatized seafarers may feel like they’ve been abandoned, left silently fearing for their jobs, their recovery, and their futures, and increasingly unable to talk to even their friends and families.
If you or a family member is struggling after being attacked or taken hostage overseas, know that you are not alone. Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below—and remember that you can always contact our team directly for a confidential discussion of your concerns and clear, practical answers to your questions.