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Kidnapping Survival Guidelines


Kidnapping can take place in public areas where someone may quietly force you, by gunpoint, into a vehicle. They can also take place at a hotel or residence, again by using a weapon to force your cooperation in leaving the premises and entering a vehicle. The initial phase of kidnapping is a critical one because it provides one of the best opportunities to escape.

If you are in a public area at the time of abduction, make as much commotion as possible to draw attention to the situation.

If the abduction takes place at your hotel room, make noise, attempt to arouse the suspicion or concern of hotel employees or of those in neighboring rooms minimally, the fact that an abduction has taken place will be brought to the attention of authorities and the process of notification and search can begin. Otherwise, it could be hours or days before your absence is reported.

Once you have been forced into a vehicle, you may be blindfolded, physically attacked (to cause unconsciousness), drugged, or forced to lie face down on the floor of the vehicle. In some instances, hostages have been forced into trunks or specially built compartments for transporting contraband.

Do not struggle in your confined state; calm yourself mentally, concentrate on surviving.

Employ your mind by attempting to visualize the route being taken, take note of turns, street noise, smells, etc. Try to keep track of the amount of time spent between points.

Once you have arrived at your destination, you may be placed in a temporary holding area before being moved again to a more permanent detention site. If you are interrogated:

Retain a sense of pride but be cooperative.

Divulge only information that cannot be used against you.

Do not antagonize your interrogator with obstinate behavior.

Concentrate on surviving; if you are to be used as a bargaining tool or to obtain ransom, you will be kept alive.

After reaching what you may presume to be your permanent detention site (you may be moved several more times), quickly settle into the situation:

Be observant.Notice the details of the room, the sounds of activity in the building and determine the layout of the building by studying what is visible to you. Listen for sounds through walls, windows or out in the streets, and try to distinguish between smells.

Stay mentally active by memorizing the aforementioned details. Exercise your memory and practice retention.

Keep track of time. Devise a way to track the day, date and the time, and use it to devise a daily schedule of activities for yourself.

Know your captors. Memorize their schedule, look for patterns of behavior to be used to your advantage, and identify weaknesses or vulnerabilities.

Use all of the above information to seek opportunities to escape.

Remain cooperative. Attempt to establish rapport with your captors or guards. Once a level of communication is achieved, try asking for items which will increase your personal comfort. Make them aware of your needs.

Stay physically active. Even if your movement is extremely limited. Use isometric and flexing exercises to keep your muscles toned.

If you detect the presence of other hostages in the same building, devise ways to communicate.

DO NOT be uncooperative, antagonistic, or hostile towards your captors. It is a fact that hostages who display this type of behavior are kept captive longer or are singled out for torture or punishment.

Watch for signs of Stockholm Syndrome which occurs when the captive, due to the close proximity and the constant pressures involved, begins to relate to, and empathize with, the captors. In some cases, this relationship has resulted in the hostage become empathetic to the point that he/she actively participates in the activities of the group. You should attempt to establish a friendly rapport with your captors, but maintain your personal dignity and do not compromise your integrity.

If you are able to escape, attempt to get first to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to seek protection. If you cannot reach either, go to a host government or friendly government entity.



Last Updated: March 2, 1996