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Former Taliban Hostage Accuses Canadian Husband of Abuse

Caitlan Coleman claims that her husband, Joshua Boyle, abused her while they were held in captivity in Afghanistan.
Boyle and Coleman in captivity with two of their children. Taliban media via Twitter.

A woman held hostage by the Taliban for five years says that her husband, also a hostage, abused her while the two were held captive.

For five years, Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman were held captive by the Taliban-linked Haqqani network, before they were rescued late last year in a dramatic shootout. As hostages the couple had three children—and a fourth is currently on its way. The children are currently with Coleman in the United States after she was granted temporary sole custody of them in July.

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In affidavits filed during a fight over custody for the children, Coleman and Boyle levieved serious and disturbing abuse allegations against each other.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, who first reported on the documents, Coleman is accusing Boyle of threatening to kill her by lighting her on fire, confining her to a shower stall for weeks, and routine physical abuse. She said the abuse escalated after three years in captivity.

“J.B. had uncontrolled rage, instituted corporal punishment of me, and struck me in a fit of rage,” read the documents. Coleman wrote that in early 2017 Boyle struck her hard enough to break a cheekbone.

Boyle is currently facing 19 charges which include, but aren’t limited to, assault, sexual assault, assault with a weapon, criminal harassment. He will stand trial next spring. The details of the charges are covered by a publication ban. A Ontario court judge issued a restraining order against Boyle that stops him from contacting Coleman.

Boyle meanwhile claims that it was Coleman who was abusive to him and that she neglected their children leaving him as the primary caregiver to the children. The Ottawa Citizen reports that he “vigorously denies” Coleman’s claims. He does admit to slapping Coleman but says he only did so during a suicide attempt. He says that he was so involved in caring for his family that the captors would “reference me as the ‘wife and mother, husband and father’ in the family, noting that all nurturing of the children was entirely upon me.”

The custody battle also shines a light on the reason Coleman and Boyle were in Afghanistan. Initially, it was believed they were in the country for humanitarian work but in his affidavit, he claims it was to further a journalism career. Boyle also wrote that reintegrating to Canada after what he and Coleman experience as hostages has been difficult.

The reason for Boyle’s affidavit was to prevent Coleman traveling to the United States with their children. After seeing both sides, Ontario Superior Court Justice Tracy Engelking sided temporarily with Coleman writing that “requiring Caitlan Coleman and the children to remain in Ottawa would be akin to once again holding them hostage.”

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