Judith and David Tebbutt were on holiday in Kenya when they were attacked by a group of armed men. David was murdered and Judith was taken to Somalia where she was held hostage for six months. Just over a year after being freed, she describes her extraordinary determination to survive in a BBC interview with journalist Dan Damon.
Jude, who had worked as a mental health social worker, believed she needed to engage with the pirates as much as possible. As her captivity extended into weeks, she taught herself some Somali so she could say “please” and “thank you” and make them see her as a human being – not just a commodity to be sold. “Even though I despised these people, I knew that if I was going to be in their company for any length of time, I needed to try and build a rapport with them, build a connection.”
“That’s really important, not to lose your own identity. However cruel they are to you, however they degrade you, you must remind yourself of who you are, all the time. I was still Jude, and I wanted to come out as Jude. I wanted to find a life for Jude again.”
She was determined to survive, and that’s her motivation for writing a book about her experience, A Long Walk Home, and for speaking to the BBC in one of her only interviews about the ordeal.