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Boyle kids face long road to recovery but healing possible: experts

From CTV - October 12, 2017

TORONTO -- Three children born in captivity and held along with their parents by a Taliban-linked group are facing a long but by no means impassable road to recovery, psychological experts said Thursday.

The circumstances surrounding the birth of the children of Canadian Joshua Boyle and his American wife Caitlan Coleman are horrific by any measure and present no shortage of potential obstacles for the future, they said.

But the fact that the family was first held and then rescued as a unit, coupled with the natural resilience of children, suggests that healing is possible in the months and years to come.

Boyle, Coleman and their three young offspring were liberated on Wednesday from Pakistan where they had recently been moved by the Haqqani network, a group U.S. officials call a terrorist organization with links to the Taliban.

There were no children in the equation when Boyle and Coleman were originally abducted in Afghanistan in 2012 after touring Russia and parts of central Asia. Coleman was pregnant with her first child at the time and gave birth to him in custody.

Two more children followed, a boy in 2015 and reportedly a girl born just two months ago.

Statements made by the Boyle and Coleman families suggest the children have been kept with their parents throughout their lives, but have had to witness violence including sexual assaults against their mother.

Experts said its impossible to offer conclusive analysis on a case in which so few details are known, but said the existence of a family unit and personal attachments bodes well for the future.

"I am sure (the parents) would have worked to protect their children as much as they could from whatever they were experiencing," said Phil Ritchie, psychologist and clinical lead at the in-patient psychiatry unit of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

"Spending time together, being able to be a family as much as possible even under those really distorted circumstances, if there were opportunities to have some play, even just moments of sanity during the day, those would be tremendously important."

Early indications from the families suggest Ritchie's assessment was accurate. A series of videos released during the family's captivity chronicle efforts to maintain a sense of normalcy for the children.

Patrick and Linda Boyle, Joshua's parents, previously said the videos showing the then family of four were devastating for loved ones back in North America.

They said it was heartbreaking to watch their grandsons observing their surroundings while listening to their mother describe how they were made to watch her being "defiled."

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