When I first came back from Afghanistan, I just wanted to forget about the whole experience and tuck it away somewhere in the recesses of my mind and really move on.

I struggle with telling this because journalists are not supposed to become the story and I still feel horrible that I have. But the more difficult part was being forced to relive the memories.

It was having to go back there so vividly to make the reader understand exactly what I was going through. I had to put myself back there so they could see what I saw and smelled what I smelled. And it was really difficult. Yet I knew it had to be shared. 

I was taken prisoner in October 2008 while reporting for CBC. I had just finished wrapping up interviews with Afghan refugees outside Kabul when a car drove up with three men inside armed with AK assault rifles who tried to force me into the car.

I fought back and was stabbed in the shoulder when I punched one of the men in the face. My translator and driver were beaten and left behind by the kidnappers.

I was driven to an abandoned house with bullet-ridden walls and a dirty floor. I thought, ‘Well at least there's a window. It's not going to be too terrible. And then they told me, ‘No, this is not where you're staying'.

My captors led me around back of the house and showed me a large hole in the ground.  And said, ‘That's where you're going to be.' The hole was probably the size of a manhole. I said, ‘No way. I'm not going in there.' But they threw me in. They literally picked me up and threw me in.

For the next 28 days I was fed only biscuits, juice boxes and cigarettes. I had a bucket to use as a toilet, and a makeshift light that ran on batteries.

Each of the men stood guard over me for about three weeks and on the second night of my captivity, one of the men sexually assaulted me. I really immediately had to block it out of my memory. Otherwise, I don't know how I would have survived the next four weeks. I still don't know how I stayed sane and kept up hope for 28 days.

I prayed a lot. I had a small pocket rosary. I got to know some of my kidnappers. I interviewed them, I tried to get inside their heads to know what their motivations were for doing this.

I quickly realized my kidnapping was not an organized effort and that my captors were not Taliban insurgents, but instead a ragtag group of thugs hoping for a ransom.

One of the men seemed more sympathetic than the others. He told me from the start that he had no plans to kill me – something that  I made him repeat to me again and again over the next month. I had to hold him to that because for me, that was the only hope I had that I would make it out alive.

I really do believe that he had some sympathy for me. He kept apologizing and saying, ‘I'm sorry I took you. I'm sorry you're not feeling well. Please don't cry.' He would hold my hand. So, I really believe that despite what he did to me – kidnapping me – there was a good person in there."

I still had my notebook with me and wrote extensively during my captivity. In the end, when I was finally released, my captors didn't let me take my notebook. But writing letters to my friends and family and bosses at work brought me some comfort.

Throughout my captivity, Canadians were not told that one of their journalists was being held prisoner. The capture was kept secret by international media so as not to compromise the negotiations for my release without mounting public pressure.

Now that I’m free, I have decided to use my new book to help the Afghan women and children I left behind. My portion of the royalties from the book sales will go to the Ayenda Foundation in Afghanistan, which is teaching women and children Internet computer skills.

Five Years after the attack I returned to the place that has both haunted and changed my life. Someone who experiences a life-altering event will in some ways always be connected to the place it happened, and that's why I wanted to return.

I do feel regret that her kidnapping put the spotlight on me and a lot of guilt that I got to come home and I was OK. I got to come back to my family and my friends and my very comfortable life in Canada. However, many of the people who I’d gone to tell stories about, the refugees, were sort of overshadowed. Their story was overshadowed by mine. I needed to do more for them if I could and sometimes just sharing relatable experiences connects us at the soul level. It gave my soul peace. 


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