Ingrid Betancourt on the Secret to Surviving Captivity

(Click to watch video.)

(Click to watch video.)

“I was surrounded by people that hated me. And when people hate you [on] a daily basis, your identity is shaken to the point that you think perhaps, ‘I’m not worthy of being loved’.” So said Ingrid Betancourt, French-Colombian politician and author of the memoir Even Silence Has an End, when she appeared in Melbourne as a guest of the Wheeler Centre, presented in partnership with the Sydney Writers' Festival.

“You could see the verge of the nervous breakdown,” she says in her inimitable English of life in captivity. To sustain her sense of herself, she relied on listening to her mother’s messages via radio messages broadcast to kidnapping victims. Despite her ordeal, Betancourt is reluctant to condemn her captors, suggesting that life in Colombia leaves some with no better alternative.

Still plagued by nightmares about her ordeal, Betancourt reveals that love was the key to her survival: “We need love. I mean, that’s the only thing I can tell you. We need love. We need to give love. We need to receive love.”

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