How to survive a kidnapping

Thanks to the Internet, kidnapping is on the rise. Potential captors can find out what’s in your wallet, who’s in your family, and which political party you support. They follow you on Twitter to get your routine down or to find out who you like in Sunday’s match. When they’re ready to act, they’ll know everything about you.

Retaliate. Know something about kidnappers and the business of kidnapping.

Here’s the best way to survive a kidnapping: don’t get kidnapped! Most people who get kidnapped have failed to follow basic safety rules. Here are some of the rules:

If you think you may become a target, keep a low profile online. Watch what you, your family and your friends post on Facebook. Disable the GPS.  Use proper passwords.  (This means giving up ‘1234’ and ‘pass.’)  Vary your work routine-most people get abducted from the car whilst driving to and from work.  Change up your schedule, and use different routes. Drive in the centre lane, it’s tougher to get run off the road. If you have kidnap insurance as part of your travel insurance plan, be discrete. Who knows who might overhear you? Have a bespoke ‘I’m fine’ signal for your people back home, something that isn’t easy to forge. (Text the lines of a song, in order, post selfies with date/time stamps) Ahead of time, come up with a verbal and visual code that shows you’re OK/not OK in case you’re abducted. (Look left and cough once for OK, you get the idea)

If you do get abducted, don’t try to escape unless you’re confident of your odds. This doesn’t mean you should go meekly. If you’re getting kidnapped, it’s time to raise hell! But if freedom isn’t an option, go with self-preservation. Consider your environment: is it safe for you to run for help?

Violence is always a possibility in abductions; it becomes a certainty if you struggle. Your  captors have the advantage in every way, starting with the element of surprise. They know a lot more about you than you know about them. Realistically assess your situation. If you don’t have a very good chance of escape, don’t struggle. Otherwise, you’ll end up kidnapped, bruised and bloody, instead of just kidnapped. Medical stations don’t come standard with criminal lairs.

Once taken, obey the reasonable demands of your abductors. Avoid politics. Don’t antagonize them. They may be as nervous as you are, and they’re the ones with the guns. Try to figure out where you are, even if blindfolded. What do you smell? Replay the journey from your abduction point to where you are now. How many turns did you take? How long was the trip? What did you heart along the way? And now? What language do you think your captors are speaking?

You’ll be bored, scared, uncomfortable, bored. Rinse and repeat. Stay mentally alert. Bake a cake from scratch in your head. Do some sit ups. Make a chess set or a deck of cards. Do some push ups. Don’t get too upset when your kidnappers cheat at poker. You want these people to like you. Get to know them, using the universal topic of Family. From the conversations, elicit clues about your whereabouts and why you were kidnapped.

Keep physically fit. Exercise can provide structure and routine to your day, as well as relieve stress.

When the rescue mission arrives, let the smoke clear before running out to kiss the nice soldier. If you have been in captivity for a while, you probably look different. If you’ve grown a beard or are wearing ethnic clothing, you may be mistaken for one of the bad guys. Make sure everybody’s put their guns away, and knows that you are the captive, not the captor. Keep in mind that the emergency assistance may not be up to snuff in your region, and take appropriate caution.

Want to know more? Take a hostile environment training course to explore how you’d react in different kidnapping scenarios. Invest in battleface crisis response cover. Agents can offer specific advice for staying safe in your region.