An American woman who was held hostage with her husband by the Taliban for five years says he abused and raped her for years—and she is now in hiding from him.
“I was actually more afraid of him than of the captors,” Caitlin Coleman told ABC News in an exclusive interview set to air on Nightline.
The mother of four children—three of whom were born in captivity—said she felt she had “no choice” but to follow husband Joshua Boyle into Afghanistan during a South Asia hiking trip in 2012.
She was pregnant at the time, and he had their passports and money, so she followed him—believing his story that the Taliban would be friendly because he had previously been married to the daughter of a top Al Qaeda aide.
Instead, the couple was reportedly kidnapped, sold to the Haqqani Network, spirited into Pakistan and held prisoner until they were suddenly released in 2017.
Coleman, who gave birth to her youngest child after her release, said Boyle continued to abuse her after they returned to his native Canada.
“I certainly felt like I was still a prisoner,” she said. “There wasn’t actually a big change in my life from when we were still in Pakistan in the hands of the Haqqanis and when I was in the Embassy Suites Hotel [in Ottawa] with Josh.”
Coleman eventually fled from Boyle, who is now awaiting trial on charges of assaulting and imprisoning her. He has pleaded not guilty and denies the allegations.
Boyle has never given a consistent explanation for why he took his pregnant wife into Taliban territory, claiming first that he was an aid worker and later saying he wanted to be a journalist.
In reality, Coleman said, he was a Taliban sympathizer.
“He would always tell me, ‘I think they’re misrepresented in the West. I think they’re good people. When you meet them, you’re gonna see,’” Coleman said. “So I saw. And they are, with the exception of my husband, the worst people that I’ve ever known in my life.”
She said that Boyle’s reign of terror inside the cell where they lived was all-consuming. “Not only was it psychological, it was physical, it was sexual,” she said in the interview.
He beat her constantly, once breaking her cheekbone, she said. And she got pregnant three times—miscarrying once—even though she couldn’t stand to have sex with him.
“You know, I’m not saying that I physically struggled,” she said. “But I am saying that I found relations with him pretty abhorrent. But I didn’t have a choice.”