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What are the Best Tips for Kidnap Victims?

By Mandi R. Hall
Updated May 16, 2024
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Kidnap victims are people who have been taken against their will or without their consent. Though preplanning won’t help in every case, potential kidnap victims should know some basic tips for surviving an abduction. If immediate escape isn’t an option, a victim should remain calm and attempt to elicit compassion from her kidnapper.

Law enforcement authorities and other experts don’t agree on one strategy for dealing with being kidapped, however. Because all kidnapping cases and abductors are different, the best thing to do is to first read the abductor as well as possible. After a kidnap victim has been taken, she should attempt to uncover the kidnapper’s intentions. She should remain calm while internally devising a plan.

Most kidnap victims are snatched in public. If this is the case, many people suggest causing a loud commotion to alert any passersby of one’s immediate danger. Because so many people are reluctant to interfere in what may appear to be a family quarrel, however, key words should be used at this time.

Screaming “Fire!” or “Rape!” or “I don’t know this man!” is often suggested. Flailing your arms and making the struggle highly visible is known to elicit more of a response from the nearby public. If an onlooker isn’t able to immediately help, he may be able to record a license plate or description of the abductor, which could later help the authorities. Once the abduction has taken place, however, it is imperative that the victim remain levelheaded and amenable.

Circumstances may be different if one is kidnapped from a private location. Some authorities suggest remaining calm from the get-go in this case. Abductors are more likely to act even more irrationally if a victim is blatantly antagonistic.

In nonpublic kidnappings, victims should use the atmosphere to their advantage. An abductor will often usher the victim from her house or a building to a nearby car. If possible, the victim should get a good look at her abductor’s prominent features, especially any tattoos, moles, piercings, or scars. If she is blindfolded, the victim should listen to her kidnapper’s voice and try to feel out her physical surroundings.

If a vehicle or building is the final destination for an abducted person, she should gather information about where she is. If possible, kidnap victims should make a mental map of how to get there. Directions and landmarks could be useful in the event the victim is able to secretly call for help.

While in captivity, a victim should attempt to build a rapport with her abductor. Talking about her family and personal goals may be advantageous. The more she is seen as a companion rather than an object or adversary, the better chance she has of surviving. Victims should not mock or debase their captors.

Kidnap victims taken for ransom should know that while lives are at risk, the captor would prefer a different outcome than the victim's death. In other cases, children might be abducted by parents who believe they deserve custody. Those kidnappers, too, are looking for a reward rather than a murder. Kidnap victims who are taken to be raped or tortured may be dealing with abductors with even more severe emotional problems. It is important that in all such cases the victims attempt to remain patient and persevere.

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