In a new interview with ABC News, an American mother tells her horrifying story of abuse while being held captive by the Taliban from 2012 to 2017.
Pennsylvania born Caitlan Coleman Boyle, 31, describes the beatings and rapes she endured at the hands of the Taliban. Coleman and her husband, Canadian born Joshua Boyle, 34, were abducted while traveling in Afghanistan in 2012.
Caitlan was pregnant at the time, and much of the abuse was suffered while protecting the three children she bore in captivity.
ABC News reports:
She said some of their guards “hated children” and would target their eldest son for beatings, sometimes with a stick, claiming the young boy was “making problems” or being “too loud.” When Caitlan tried to intervene, she was beaten as well. “I would get beaten or hit or thrown on the ground,” Caitlan said.
According to her husband, Caitlan sustained serious injuries while fighting to keep her captors from her children.
“She had a broken cheekbone,” Joshua said. “She actually broke her own hand punching one of them. She broke her fingers, so she was very proud of that injury.”
Coleman says her captors forced an abortion on her at one point, murdering their unborn daughter. When she tried to tell their superiors, she was raped as punishment by two men.
Abducted in Afghanistan, the couple was taken prisoner by the Haqqani Network, an extremist Taliban group, and transported to Pakistan. The husband and wife were moved between different locations through Pakistan and often held in a single, underground room with either a cement or dirt floor. Boyle reports being shackled for most of his captivity.
The couple schooled and provided for the children as best they could throughout their captivity, even introducing the concept of a game about beheadings with their eldest son, as they felt they could someday be beheaded.
“He certainly knew that this type of thing could happen to his family,” Coleman told ABC News Correspondent Brian Ross. “So, we made it a game so that he wasn’t afraid.”
The family reports an escalation in abuse when Boyle declined to join the Haqqani Network as a western propagandist.
Coleman and her husband have given the interview in hopes that their captors and Taliban leaders will be punished and face a trial for war crimes.
“Our focus is on trying to hold accountable those who have committed grave human rights violations against us and against others,” Boyle said. “I lost a daughter. That was more of a crushing blow to me than the years. What they did was a crime against humanity by international law.”
The couple was freed in mid-October by Pakistani troops, the details of the operation that secured their release still a secret. They are now living in Canada and trying to adjust to freedom.
The couple said they were in the war-torn country to help poor residents who live in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, where necessary aid is unavailable.
They would not answer any questions about Boyle’s past, the circumstances leading to their capture and release, or why they decided to continue having children, during the ABC interview.