As she was driving to a rally to raise awareness about violence against women, Amanda Lindhout started to have doubts about her plan to speak publicly for the first time about how she had been raped and tortured while being held captive in Somalia.
"I just didn't know if I was going to have the courage to do it," she said Friday.
"Those are words that I have never said in public before, that I have said only in the confines of my therapist's office and with close friends and family. So for me, just like for any woman that has experienced this kind of abuse, to stand in front of people and say that publicly and really own that experience was extremely difficult for me to do."
But buoyed by a feeling of safety at the One Billion Rising event in Calgary, the 31-year-old writer and activist who hails from Red Deer, Alta., and now lives in Canmore, Alta., chose to reveal the repeated sexual attacks that she suffered during her captivity with the aim of showing solidarity with others dealing with the same issues.
Lindhout has spoken before of her time being held captive by a group of Somali youths who had kidnapped her off the side of the road outside the capital of Mogadishu in August 2008. At the time, she was working as a freelance writer.
When Lindhout and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan were abducted, their parents first turned to the Canadian and Australian governments for help, but eventually hired a private hostage negotiation group and paid a ransom to secure their freedom.
"When I came home from my experience as a hostage three years ago, I never felt an obligation to share publicly any great amount of details about the abuse that I suffered," she said.
"I shared what I felt was an appropriate level of detail with the Canadian public, who I did feel some responsibility to, considering how engaged the nation was during the 15 1/2 months I was a hostage."
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