Margaret's Story

It was so hard not knowing how Chris was, I feared the worst, and I expected the worst. I kept thinking about what conditions he might have been kept in, and I had no way of finding anything out during those first couple of weeks – I think for about ten days I didn’t know if he was alive or dead. It is one of the worst things I have ever been through in my life.

Once we had contact there was a sense of relief. I had the support from Prisoners Abroad and they would talk me through the situation and I could talk to them about what I was feeling and the things I was worried about.

One of the things that I found most difficult was when they kept telling Chris that he would be released, and then not releasing him. That was particularly cruel and it was hard being so far away from him. It was all consuming; I thought about it from the moment I woke up. I was trying to do normal things as well, I was trying to look for a job at the time, but it was impossible to concentrate on anything else. My friends would try and get me to go out with them and I’d try to go out and take my mind off things, but the conversation would always turn back round to it because it was like an obsession. It was there in my head, and I couldn’t think clearly about anything else.

My friends would try and say the right things to me, but they could actually make comments that upset me more. When I spoke to Sarah at Prisoners Abroad she knew what to say and what not to say, I could tell her anything and talk openly – it was a great source of comfort and relief. I would be tense and upset when we started talking, but after a while I would feel a sense of release which made me feel better for a little while – it made all the difference, that got me through it.

Read Margaret's brother Chris' story

Combating stigma helps reduce isolation.

Prisoners Abroad helps family members affected by a loved one’s imprisonment by providing one to one support as well as hosting family support groups around the country and arranging overseas visits.