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The impact of a wrongful detention does not end with the return of your loved one. It is important to understand it may take time for your loved one to adjust once he or she is home, especially after a prolonged detention in a foreign country.

Detainees and their families tend to adapt and sustain themselves during the detention period. It can take time for both the detainee and the family members to re-acclimate to a normal routine back home. Your loved one may need time to rest and to tell his or her story in his or her own way and time. Life will gradually return to normal. You and your loved one both have been through difficult—but ultimately different—experiences during the detention. Allow ample time to reestablish connections and support one another with patience and an understanding of each side’s experience.

Wrongful detention can be an isolating experience. Those detaining your loved one may have attempted to foster feelings of hopelessness in your loved one. In addition, setbacks and roadblocks in navigating a foreign—and sometimes incomprehensible—legal system may have led your loved one to believe they were abandoned by their family and their government, and that nothing was being done to secure their release. It is possible your loved one may feel remorse about putting your family through the ordeal. It is also not uncommon for people to second guess their decisions or behavior after the fact. It is important to accept and understand each person’s feelings as normal reactions to an abnormal situation. There will be many emotions that you may be unprepared for but there are resources to help you and your loved ones. Therapists and family counselors can help with the process.

Issues and problems that existed within the family before the detention may resurface after the return of your loved one. Re-establishing normal relationships can take time after a lengthy absence. It is important to be patient and not rush the process. NGOs focused on your family’s problem can help identify counseling resources and other services for wrongful detainees and their families.

Return to the United States

When your loved one is released, the primary concern is their return to their former life. While each case is unique, we will coordinate with the interagency to ensure a smooth return home, and we will keep family members updated on repatriation options given individual circumstances.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future