The country continues to react to the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner following her 10+ month detainment in Russia. Griner’s family is getting some advice from someone who knows firsthand what it’s like to be in her shoes.
For the first time in years, former hostage Terry Anderson, a journalist taken hostage by Hezbollah militants and held in captivity in Lebanon for seven years, talks exclusively to our Wendy Wright.
It was 1985 when Anderson was abducted on a street in Beirut and shoved into the backseat of a car and taken to a secret location. He was moved a few times and held with other hostages. Six years and nine months passed before he was freed.
Here are his thoughts and advice.
“She has undoubtedly been traumatized, and that she needs support and that she needs help and I hope people recognize that she’s not the same person who went into that Russian Gulag,” Anderson said. “And she’s going to need a lot of support and I hope she gets it.”
The Batavia native has kept a low profile since his 1991 release, but his thoughts are with those who are continue to be taken hostage and says he is pleased to hear of the release of Griner.
“She’s going to have to face a very confusing time,” he said. “And it’s not up to her entirely how she does that. If she has support, that’s one thing. She’ll learn some things and she’ll learn how to handle it. One of my counselors when I came home observed to me once that it was very nearly as traumatizing to be released as it was to have been kidnapped. And you might think about that. She’s going to face a very confusing world…She’s not going to just go back and play basketball.”
And to specify advice for her family. And those around her?
“Unquestioning support,” he said. “Do not expect her to be the person who went away and do not expect her to be the person whose image you have been polishing in your heart, since she’s gone. She has her own expectations that she has developed in prison as to who she is and to what she wants to do. So don’t try to force her into being who she was.”
As for Anderson these days, he says he’s well. He’s retired, visits his daughter and is happy to be alive and free.