Suffering a kidnap or retention by terrorists or criminals is a dangerous and terrible ordeal for which the senses are not accustomed and it is very difficult to be prepared. Whether it is a robbery situation or an operation carried out by extremists, almost everything you will have available is your wit, your ability to observe, and your predetermination. Fortunately and, hopefully, it might be enough to help tip the balance in your favor.
Everything has to be admitted, these situations are dramatic in nature and if you ever had to live it, God does not want it, you’re going to have to walk a tightrope but there is always something you can do about it. These seven tips are sure to help.
1 – KEEP CALM, GO ON FORWARD
The initial moments of a kidnapping or the taking of hostages are the most dangerous. Possibly at first you have no idea of the motivations of the kidnappers and they very possibly will have no idea of your abilities or that of the other hostages that accompany you. Panic responses, unpredictable actions or outbursts can focus attention on yourself and literally become a goal.
Brian John Heard recommends in his book Kidnapped and Abduction: Minimizing the Threat and Lessons in Survival to be an observer from the beginning. “Try to remember every detail you can, not only help you in the face of a possible escape, you can also provide valuable information to the police, which will help in the investigation, arrest and conviction of the kidnappers.”
2 – AVOID VISION IN TUNEL
When you see yourself in a situation of threat or danger your body is activated and your focus of attention can be narrowed to really dangerous points. In those moments it is when people make the worst decisions for their survival. Try to keep your situational awareness at all times, be aware of the real situation, the emotional state of your captors and find out their intentions. If you are able to remain calm, you can correctly perceive the real variables of the situation in which you are and you will be better able to understand the risks and dangers, both immediate and future, to be able to project in the face of possible results of the situation and search for opportunities for defensive actions and options that may become available to you.
Try to write down or memorize the number of attackers or captors, how they are armed and other details such as the language they speak, their accent, their claimed or apparent motives and demands and, if possible, the details of where they are moving you. If you are blindfolded and in a vehicle, keep track of the turns (right and left) and count the approximate time between them to get a rough idea of your possible location.
“Perceiving, understanding and projecting correctly are the three essential components of situational awareness”
3 – MONITOR AND MANAGE THE TIME
Having a watch is the simplest way to keep track of the hours of the day. If you do not have it, try to track light hours or at least feel the temperature changes between the typical day and night of the thermal oscillation, if you are in a basement or underground try to find areas of the wall or the ceiling that better transmit the outside temperature to maintain the temporary orientation.
“Keeping track of time, schedules and activities around you reduces the passive nature of your captivity”
Identify the behavior patterns of your captors, such as the times they take to take you food, who takes it, if they take turns watching, every time they rotate approximately … Observing scheduled activities can give you a potential advantage in a attempt to escape. Identifying repetitive activities means you can expect what is going to happen at specific times. It will be of great help to you to plan in advance your most intelligent actions.
Keeping track of time, schedules and activities around you reduces the passive nature of your captivity.
Richard P. Wright, author of Kidnap for Ransom: Resolving the Unthinkable says that “hostages must perform mental exercises every day to keep their mind sharp and help them regain and retain perspective.” Simple exercises such as multiplication tables, remembering quotes from great literary works, or rebuilding dialogues with loved ones can and will greatly aid in maintaining mental acuity. ”
4 – FIND OUT THE OBJECTIVES OF YOUR CAPTORS
Find out why your captors took you hostage and identify your targets. If your objective is to exchange either as a ransom or by other hostages, you will only be of value if they keep you alive. The tendency of the kidnappers to police and security forces is cooperation, try not to give reasons to do harm to you or other hostages. Keep in mind that if you are abducted during a criminal activity, your captors are going to look primarily for their survival and if they kill you, there is nothing to prevent the use of the force of assault units against them.
When you become a hostage of political or religious extremists, things get complicated. In some cases the hostages are worth more alive than dead, but today, the killing of political hostages is another method of terror employed by extremist groups such as daesh, ISIS or EI.
“If you think that your captors intend to kill you regardless of their demands, you do not lose anything by doing everything possible to escape”
Try to assess how likely your captors could kill you, no matter what you do. That is not the same as being threatened by not following the orders of your captors. Then it becomes especially relevant that you are able to project correctly. Once you have observed and understood the situation, project the results based on what you know about your captors and their motives, if you really believe they intend to kill you regardless of their demands, you will not lose anything by doing everything possible to escape. The behavior of your captors towards you can give you some indication as to this possibility. If they stop feeding you, if the treatment you receive or your other hostages becomes dehumanizing or if they no longer hide their identities around you, it may be an indication that the situation is ending. You must be prepared to do everything possible to escape if you really believe that they have the intention of the worst.
5 – CARE YOUR BODY. WHAT YOU WILL NEED
Stay physically active. Whether to prepare you for the escape or simply to go through the situation with less stress and terror, maintaining physical activity is critical. It establishes moments in which you can do all the possible exercises in the space that you have available. Includes cardiovascular exercises and train your strength with exercises such as jumps, pushups, isometric.
Everything you can do will help you fight depression, stay active and alert, but it will also help if you find the time when escaping can save your life.
6 – AVOID HIGHLIGHTS
As far as possible, do nothing to attract the consciousness of your captor. If you have captive partners, mix with them. Do not do anything that catches your eye or makes you look like a troublemaker. If you are presented with the opportunity to escape, you will have greater chances of success if you do not have an extra eye watching you.
If they question you, try not to appear belligerent or combative (no matter how good you look in the spy movies versus supervillains). Your arguments, no matter how good they may be, can lead you into situations of reprisal or isolation. Talk freely about inconsequential things, but be wise on issues such as your motivations or creeds and beware of the game of “good cop, bad cop” routine. Criminals and terrorists also use it as a strategy.
7 – DO NOT BECOME ANOTHER RESCUE VICTIM
The most dangerous moments of captivity are the initial capture and intervention of the rescue teams. If you have survived captivity, be sure to survive the rescue as well.
According to Brian John Heard, in his book Kidnapped and Abduction: Minimizing the Threat and Lessons in Survival, “Although it is little consolation to find yourself a hostage under extreme duress, never forget that, in most cases, you will only be value for your captors if you are still alive and they will want to remain so.The experience shows that the longer you are kept in captivity, no matter how costly the situation, the more chances you have of surviving the abduction. ”
When the assault or intervention teams arrive, identify the places where you could or were opening fire, throw yourself to the ground and stay covered if you can, in a desperate situation your captors may decide to use you as a shield or simply kill the hostages. Do not be offended if the rescue teams do not recognize you immediately as a hostage, remember that they are armed, under stress and in the middle of that situation you can be confused with your enemy. If they decide to stop you, collaborate as much as you can and just repeat that you are one of the hostages and thank you for the rescue. Eventually you will be correctly identified and your nightmare will come to an end .