Former Taliban hostage Caitlan Coleman accuses husband of emotional, physical abuse during their five years in captivity


The American woman held captive by Taliban-linked military groups alongside her husband claims he was physically and emotionally abusive during the five years they spent as hostages.

In newly unsealed court documents, 32-year-old Caitlan Coleman alleged her Canadian-born husband, Joshua Boyle, “regularly threatened to kill me by setting me on fire.” The Pennsylvania native filed the affidavit in June as part of a family court application to gain sole custody of their three children, all of who were born in captivity, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

Coleman also accused her husband of becoming increasingly erratic and irrational during their years as hostages. He had “uncontrolled rage, instituted corporal punishment” and subscribed to extremist ideologies which call for “the complete subservience of women,” she claimed in the affidavit.

The mother, who is expecting her fourth child this month, added Boyle called her “an enemy of his life” and that he "struck her in a fit of rage.” In February 2017, she claimed he hit her hard enough to break her cheek bone.

Boyle denied the abuse allegations and painted a completely different picture in a separate documents filed to block his wife from leaving the country with his children, according to the Citizen. The 34-year-old father raised his own allegations of abuse, claiming she assaulted him and neglected their children due to mental illness.

“Multiple captors would reference me as the ‘wife and mother, husband and father’ in the family, noting that all the nurturing of the children was entirely upon me,” he said.

He detailed how he built a garden beside the family’s “squat toilet” and captured mice for the themto keep as pets. Boyle additionally said he sew scraps together for clothing and would often go without food so that his pregnant wife and their kids could eat more.

In the end, Ontario Superior Court Justice Tracy Engelking in July granted temporary sole custody to Coleman and granted a restraining order, which bars Boyle from going near his wife and children.

Engelking ruled they would be allowed to return to Pennsylvania with their mother, noting that requiring “the children to remain in Ottowa would be akin to once again holding them hostage.”

The judge also said the court had no evidence to suggest that Coleman has any mental health condition that would undermine her ability to be a suitable parent.

The couple first connected online in 2002 and became romantically involved a few years later.

“We both enjoyed BDSM,” Boyle recalled in his affidavit. “We both wanted to travel by way of backpacking and we both wanted to see the world.”

They were married during a trip to Central America in 2011, but they quickly separated. Coleman kicked off divorce proceedings in 2012, but Boyle persuaded her to join him on a backpacking trip through Central Asia. They set off in July of that year, shortly after Boyle learned Coleman was expecting their first child.

Coleman however, said she only agreed to take the trip after Boyle vowed they would not travel to Afghanistan, though he revealed that was exactly their destination after they landed, according to the her affidavit. Her husband however has rejected the narrative, claiming Coleman was full aware he’d intended to travel to Afghanistan with the intention of boosting his journalism career.

Coleman was five months pregnant when they taken hostage on Oct. 10 2012. Boyle said their endured torture during their years in captivity and shuffled between 19 hideouts in both Afghanistan and Pakistan before they were during a shootout last fall.

Boyle in his affidavit also explained how adjusting to life in Canada has been a challenge for him.

“While captivity was the worst thing that ever happened to me,” he said, “the adjustment to coming home was a very close second.”