specifically recounted how it helped him to take his mind off thinking about his father. He distracted himself from his sense of unease by “getting on with other stuff, concentrating on stuff I enjoyed like making new friends, it was all quite new and exciting”. This child found it confusing to be returning to school after the holidays, when he had been expected to leave and his class had held a special farewell ceremony for him. Those children who had been taken to a country where the language was different identified difficulties in communicating and making friends during the period away. One child said that his dad “knew that if we don’t go to school he’ll get stopped”, meaning that the authorities would question their non- attendance which might have adverse consequences for his father. One child recalled attending a playgroup where some other children were English-speaking ex-patriates in similar circumstances. She said that she enjoyed going there.
For some children there were also significant difficulties in making the adjustment on their return. One, who was in another country for some considerable time during a significant stage of language acquisition, had particular difficulties on his return and recalled crying every day. The discomfort he feels about education and schooling endures to this day. Another had specific practical difficulties with school immediately upon his return to his country of residence as his parents, through lawyers, had agreed shared residence with him attending different schools according to which parent he was staying with. This arrangement, seemingly negotiated so as to achieve a return to the appropriate jurisdiction, made absolutely no sense to the child concerned. It was, not surprisingly, short lived but was extremely confusing and stressful for the child at the time and is a period vividly and unhappily recalled by the young person concerned. Six children found that they were able to retain friends even over a long period of time, which helped them to re-adjust. In one instance the child concerned was not allowed to text or phone anyone, but former friendships were of such substance that they endured. This made for greater ease of re-settlement which was striking in view of the length of time this child had been away. In several cases the children returned to their schools and resumed their friendships. This they valued, identifying friends and peer relationships as important to them.
Emotional Responses to the Abduction
All of the children recalled their feelings about the abduction fairly clearly, although it was not always readily discernible how much of this was their own independent recollection and how much had become an accepted family version of events. All but one of the children felt close to their abductor. One, however, recalls feeling very scared of antagonising her father and resentful of his partner’s attempt to act as a substitute. She said that she and her children were nice to her but “I think their mum tried to be like my mum. I didn’t want their mum, I wanted my mum.” She was very scared to even ask her father about her mother or to say that she missed her. Her anxiety about kidnap and pronounced fear of the unexpected continues to this day. “I remember I was frightened if anyone knocked on our door. My mum got people to knock on the window instead so we could see who it was…I was really scared if ever there was a knock on the door, scared that I might be kidnapped. I’m still a bit scared now.”
Another said that he felt fine with his abducting parent, but described worsening physical symptoms of stress and anxiety such as nausea, headaches and actual