Caitlan Coleman Boyle with her daughter on Oct. 23, 2017, in Ottawa, Can.
Michelle Shephard—Toronto Star/Getty Images
November 20, 2017 11:40 AM EST

The American mother who spent five years as a hostage of the Taliban broke her cheekbone and her hand while trying to stop her captors from attacking her three children, all who were born in captivity, she and her husband said in a new interview Monday.

Caitlan Coleman Boyle, 31, of Pennsylvania told ABC News some of her captors “actively hated children” and would sometimes strike her and her children with sticks. A Taliban-linked group captured Coleman Boyle and her husband Joshua Boyle in 2012 while the couple was traveling in Afghanistan. They were held hostage for five years before being rescued in Pakistan last month.

Coleman Boyle said her children grew up in brutal conditions, in which the prospect of being beheaded was “always on the table.”

“This was an intolerable situation for a child to be in, the constant fear,” she said.

Coleman Boyle said she would “get beaten or hit or thrown on the ground” when she came between her captors and her children. Her husband said she sustained serious injuries in the process.

“She had a broken cheekbone. She actually broke her own hand punching one of them,” he said. “She broke her fingers, so she was very proud of that injury.”

Coleman Boyle also said she was raped by two of her guards and that her captors killed her unborn daughter in a “forced abortion,” according to ABC News.

Joshua Boyle said he and his wife had “made the decision” to have children while being held hostage. “It’s a sad statement on the state of affairs of the world when a family is asked to justify their decision to have children in any circumstance,” he said.

Details about their rescue and why the couple was in Afghanistan during their abduction are still unclear. But the couple now hopes their captors will be held accountable and that their children can heal from their past and “grow to be strong,” “good” and unafraid.

“I hope that they find enough happiness and joy to make up for it,” Coleman Boyle said.

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