Hannah’s Story – abducted as a child

I am not quite too sure if you have ever felt like you have lost everything you valued and cherished in your life. That feeling of having your family ripped apart and living with a daily fear of not being able to see my father ever again became my reality as an 8-year-old girl. Unlike many young adults my age, I know the feeling when the walls around your feel like they are crumbling down and your world collapses. This is the reality of parent-child abduction which leads me onto my story.

I came from a childhood where my mother had severe mental health issues which consequently lead to my parent’s divorce out in the middle east. As a young child, the prospect of a broken family felt like my worst nightmare. Due to my mother’s condition and freak incidents my father was forced out of the country with fear for his freedom. Looking back now this was the starting point to abduction and loss of freedom to see my dad, lasting around a year. It all felt like I had been transported into a movie which I couldn’t escape.

During the year I was abducted I was taken around several homes in the Middle East and eventually ended up in Turkey. To add to the loss of freedom I wasn’t allowed to go to school since my mother was worried that my father would find me there. I wasn’t allowed to leave my flat without my mother. It felt like a prison. I couldn’t escape all I could do was hope my father would come to find me. To add to this, due to my mother’s condition she was extremely violent which lead me to nearly commit suicide at the age of 8. Thank god I didn’t.

In what seems like darkness there was a glimmer of hope which was the secret telephone that my father sewed into my teddy bear before he was forced to leave the country. I used this telephone to give descriptions to my father as to my whereabouts so that he would be able to track me. All I truly desired was to be reunited with my father whom I had an amazing relationship with and who treated me with love. By using this telephone my father worked with various personal to obtain my location for my rescue.

I can still remember when I was rescued like yesterday, the arms of the loving father that surrounded me I can recall even now at the age of 23. After this, we spent several months out in Turkey where the divorce proceedings took place. Eventually, my father obtained full custody of me and we were able to return to the UK. I can’t tell you how it felt to be coming back home to normal life! During this whole time, my father was in contact with Reunite who gave just incredible support, advice and motivation that we all needed. They truly equipped my dad with what he needed to get my out. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without their help.

Having gone through a serious trauma the journey to recovery did not come easy. I suffered a lot from anxieties, self-confidence and panic attacks for a lot of my early years back. I was severely behind in school with my grades as low as 21 %. I had to rebuild my life back from nothing, stone by stone.

Sitting here now writing this from a position being healed and fully myself again which took a total of 10-12 years. I am now in the process of becoming an architect with degrees from some of the best universities in the world. Not only this but I run a fashion blog and magazine dedicated to empowering women, this itself has been featured in Vogue, Elle and New York Times.

If you had asked the little 8-year-old girl what future was in front of her, she would never have believed it. All I can say is never give up, always chase your dreams however far they feel.