On August 23, 2008 the freelance journalist was Visiting Somalia with her ex-boyfriend, Australian photographer Nigel Brennan to work on a story about displaced persons camps near the capital. Hours into the investigation their vehicle was raided and Lindhout was captured by Islamist insurgents.
Unbeknownst to the innocent traveller, she would spend the next 15 months held hostage in a room with no windows as she was sexually assaulted and abused by professional ransom hunters who were after $1 million dollars from her family back home in Canada.
“Those days in that room in leg shackles drove me insane,” Lindhout said as she sobbed. “My daily reality became trying to hold onto my sanity as they would rape me, torture me and hold a knife to my throat and threaten to behead me if my family wouldn’t pay them the money.”
After months of endless anguish and thoughts of suicide, Lindhout’s freedom was finally secured after her ransom was paid by hundreds of generous strangers.
“We had gone from experiencing the worst of humanity only to come out and find we had been rescued by the best of humanity. People donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to free me.”
Now, nearly nine years on and despite the horrible nightmares and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Lindhout has chosen to forgive her captors in order to set herself free.
“I have learnt a lot about strength and survival, and every time I have the opportunity to share that, there is healing in that for me,” she says. “Self-love and self-care has gotten me through so much and the dust of everything has settled now, and I feel lighter and happier.”