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Ep 97 | Rescued by Seal Team Six after being abducted for 93 days in Somalia and how (and why) to tell YOUR story, with NY Times best selling author, Jessica Buchanan

Fri Jun 30 2023
KidnappingSurvivalIntuitionEmpowermentMemoir Writing


This episode features the incredible story of Jessica Buchanan, an American woman who was kidnapped by Somali pirates and held captive for 93 days before being rescued by Seal Team 6. Jessica shares her journey of survival, self-discovery, and post-traumatic growth. The episode also explores themes of intuition, empowerment, and the importance of sharing our stories. Through her work as a mindset and empowerment coach, Jessica supports women in writing their memoirs and finding their voices. This episode is a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit.


Trusting Intuition

Jessica's experience highlights the importance of trusting our intuition and speaking up when something doesn't feel right. She reflects on how ignoring her intuition led to her kidnapping and emphasizes the ongoing work required to repair our relationship with our intuition.

Surviving Captivity

The speaker's harrowing experience in captivity sheds light on the challenges of surviving trauma and finding self-acceptance. Their story serves as a reminder of the strength of the human spirit and the transformative power of resilience.

Empowering Women's Voices

Jessica's work as a mindset and empowerment coach focuses on supporting women in sharing their stories through writing. She believes that everyone should have access to resources and support, regardless of their social media following or professional writing experience.


  1. Jessica Buchanan's Kidnapping and Rescue
  2. Guest's Journey in East Africa
  3. Education and Conflict Management in Somalia
  4. Trusting Intuition and Surviving Captivity
  5. Captivity and Negotiations for Release
  6. Escaping Assault and Rescue
  7. Rescue and Post-Traumatic Growth
  8. Supporting Women in Sharing Their Stories
  9. Empowering Women's Voices Through Writing

Jessica Buchanan's Kidnapping and Rescue

00:00 - 06:50

  • Jessica Buchanan, an American woman from Ohio, was kidnapped by Somali pirates and held for ransom for 93 days before being rescued by Seal Team 6.
  • Her story is about knowing who you are and speaking up when something doesn't feel right.
  • She reflects on the feeling of not wanting to inconvenience or trouble others, which led to her kidnapping.
  • Despite her traumatic experience, Jessica continues to serve others in processing their own traumas and events.
  • The podcast host expresses admiration for Jessica's courage and dedication to helping people.
  • The host shares a personal story related to Jessica's experience, highlighting instances where she felt lucky that nothing happened but now realizes the potential danger.

Guest's Journey in East Africa

06:28 - 14:16

  • Many people, especially women, often do things they don't want to do to avoid inconveniencing others.
  • The guest's story inspired the host and many listeners.
  • The guest grew up with free-spirited parents who later found religion.
  • Her parents taught her the importance of service and pursuing one's talents.
  • She ended up working in East Africa after getting a teaching position in Nairobi.
  • She met her husband, a human rights lawyer, and got married quickly for logistical reasons.
  • She moved to Hergeisa in Northern Somalia and started doing English language tutoring.
  • Word got out about her teaching skills, leading to consultancies with the UN and Ministry of Education.
  • She eventually became the education advisor for a Danish NGO focused on mine action and clearance.

Education and Conflict Management in Somalia

13:47 - 21:28

  • The organization's main mission was to clear landmines in Hargisa and the outlying areas of Somali land.
  • Mine risk education was provided to children, teaching them not to pick up unexploded ordnance.
  • Firearm safety education was given due to the high number of households with firearms and incidents involving children getting shot.
  • Conflict management education was provided, introducing Western ideas of interpersonal communication and relationships to nomadic and tribal communities.
  • The narrator traveled extensively throughout East Africa, working with non-literate people groups and witnessing incredible things.
  • In October 2011, the narrator had reservations about leading a training in Galcayo, Southern Somalia, but felt pressured by a colleague to go ahead with it.
  • The town of Galcayo was divided into two sections governed by different clans, causing conflict between them.
  • On the third day of the training, the narrator woke up feeling uneasy about crossing over into the southern part of Galcayo.
  • Despite her intuition telling her not to go, she decided to proceed with the training against her better judgment.
  • This decision would be the last time she saw a colleague who later went missing under dangerous circumstances.

Trusting Intuition and Surviving Captivity

20:58 - 28:38

  • The speaker recalls a moment when she stood up for herself and walked away from a toxic situation.
  • She reflects on how that experience has changed her response to intuitive hits and following her intuition.
  • The speaker mentions instances where she shut down uncomfortable situations, especially around her kids.
  • She admits to sometimes second-guessing her intuitive hits but acknowledges the importance of listening to them.
  • The speaker shares her journey of repairing her relationship with her intuition after abandoning it in the past.
  • She talks about the ongoing work and self-reflection required to strengthen her intuition.
  • The host asks about the speaker's experience leading up to her abduction, and if she had any nightmares or felt on edge before it happened.
  • The speaker reveals that she actually forgot about the abduction until much later into her captivity.
  • She describes an illuminating moment where she remembered the abduction and chronicled it in an anthology series.
  • The speaker pragmatically focused on getting through each day before the abduction occurred.
  • She recalls feeling something off at around 3 o'clock in the afternoon on that day, during preparations for their convoy back.
  • Trusting those in charge, including deferring decisions, was a lesson learned from this experience for the speaker.
  • Both speakers discuss their tendencies to defer to others and avoid inconveniencing people in various situations.

Captivity and Negotiations for Release

28:12 - 35:55

  • The speaker feels dehumanized and like a commodity to be cashed in
  • The speaker's interest in healing and empowerment started before the 93-day experience
  • The traumatic experience changed the speaker on a cellular level
  • The speaker needed the experience to have a bigger meaning and change them for the better
  • The aftermath of the experience brought fear, anxiety, and exhaustion
  • The speaker still grieves what they lost due to the experience
  • They had space to process their emotions during certain periods of time
  • There were long periods of isolation where no one addressed or spoke to the speaker
  • The lack of ability to use their voice was challenging for the speaker
  • They had a transformational experience during which they went inward and processed their emotions

Escaping Assault and Rescue

35:32 - 43:09

  • The speaker had a transformational experience where they had space to process their emotions and grief.
  • They realized the importance of facing oneself instead of trying to escape from it.
  • The speaker escaped sexual assault, which was used as a punishment or fear tactic.
  • A urinary tract infection (UTI) expedited negotiations for their rescue.
  • The speaker had regular proof of life calls and informed the organization about their worsening condition due to the UTI.
  • After nine days, the speaker woke up to gunfire and was eventually rescued by the American military.

Rescue and Post-Traumatic Growth

42:47 - 50:54

  • The speaker, Jessica, recounts her experience of being rescued by Seal Team six after being held captive by pirates.
  • She talks about the initial confusion and disbelief she felt when she realized she was being rescued.
  • Jessica expresses her gratitude towards the team and wonders about the worth of her life compared to those who died during the rescue mission.
  • She discusses the challenges of surviving survival and finding self-acceptance after trauma.
  • Jessica mentions that she doesn't extensively discuss surviving survival in her book but plans to address it in her next anthology.
  • The speaker reflects on how learning that people were paying attention to her story affected her and made her feel overwhelmed.
  • She shares that she tends to go inward when feeling overwhelmed and isolated herself for a while before realizing the impact of her story on others.
  • Jessica talks about starting SoulSpeak press during COVID and how it allowed her to tell her story authentically and take ownership of it.
  • She emphasizes the importance of multiple heroes in a story rather than portraying herself as a damsel in distress.
  • The speaker reveals that she has always been a writer since childhood.

Supporting Women in Sharing Their Stories

50:24 - 58:07

  • I had depicted myself as a damsel in distress, but I needed to be authentic and figure out how to tell my story.
  • I started writing at a young age and enjoyed it. Women would ask me how to do what I was doing, so I realized coaching is another form of teaching.
  • The publishing industry is competitive and has changed since my first book. I got lucky with my book deal and New York Times bestseller list.
  • I met a mentor who had a hybrid publishing company, so we collaborated and started my own imprint.
  • After hitting rock bottom professionally, things fell into place and women reached out to me about publishing their memoir manifestos.
  • This aligned with my purpose of supporting women in telling their stories through memoir manifestos.
  • I work as a mindset and empowerment coach alongside helping people publish their books.
  • We focus on copy editing, proofreading, developmental editing, mindset support, logistics, and providing belief in the power of storytelling.
  • Sharing our stories helps us feel less alone and offers hope for others who are healing in private.
  • I believe that if someone wants to share their story, they should have access to us regardless of their social media following or professional writing experience.
  • I work specifically with women because they still struggle for equity and are disenfranchised on many levels.

Empowering Women's Voices Through Writing

1:12:25 - 1:19:09

  • Only three out of ten professional speakers who get paid to speak are women, and most of them are not women of color.
  • The speaker is focused on getting women's voices out there and unleashing their voices.
  • Some people have specific stories but don't realize the impact or importance of sharing them.
  • When someone feels hesitant to share their story, the first question is whether they truly want to do it.
  • It's not about the drama of the story, but rather the insight, reflection, and lessons learned that can be taught to readers.
  • Writing a book can establish credibility and provide more information about oneself for coaching or public speaking purposes.
  • There are anthology experiences available for those who want to dip their toe into writing a memoir before committing fully.
  • Writing a book can be cathartic, therapeutic, and offer healing and processing for the author.
  • Legacy is also a valid reason for writing a book.
  • The speaker can be contacted for more information and resources.