Essential Tips to Survive a Kidnapping


Ideally, it will never happen to you. But there’s a non-zero chance that you might be abducted at some point in your life. Do you know how to stay alive during a kidnapping?

The Gift of Fear

If you haven’t ever read it, check out Gavin de Becker’s book The Gift of Fear. He encourages everyone–especially women–to trust their instincts. If something seems sketchy or even just mildly off, get out of there!

Make sure that you are paying attention to your surroundings and not overly distracted by your phone or anything else that might make you miss a signal that you are in danger. The best way to survive a kidnapping is to avoid getting abducted in the first place.

Fight Hard

In the event that someone tries to grab you, fight back hard. Scream for help. Try to gouge, kick, or bite–aiming for eyes and genitals, since those are the most vulnerable parts of the body.

If you’re holding car keys, use them as a weapon. If you only have your hands, form your fingers into a wedge shape by pressing them against your thumb… you know, like you’re doing the Funky Chicken dance. If you’ve been grabbed from behind, stomping down on your captor’s instep (the top of the foot) is a good move.

But it’s always best to go for the groin. Most men–and kidnappers are usually guys–can’t chase you if they’re doubled over in pain.

Psychological Strategy

If you’ve been abducted for a ransom, experts agree that you should be honest about how much the kidnappers can get. Don’t lie and pretend that your family is broke–and don’t inflate the possibility of a huge ransom. Most kidnapping rings will have already done their research, so lying does no good and might even convince them that you aren’t worth the risk.

While you’re being held captive, try to humanize yourself as much as possible to the kidnappers. Ask for water or something to eat. Remind them that you need to go to the bathroom. Talk about your friends and family, your hobbies, your opinion about the latest episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians–whatever it takes to keep talking.

The idea is to make it impossible for them to pretend that you’re nothing more than stolen property.

Breaking Free

If the kidnapper wants to bind your hands, there’s a simple trick to make it easier to break free. Most often, they’ll use duct tape or zip ties, which can be pulled apart with enough force. Present your hands with your wrists pressed together. Then, if you get a chance, you can bring your arms down over your knees or stomach to break the tape. It’ll hurt, but it’s important to get out of there.

If you’re trapped in a car trunk, look for a glow-in-the-dark release handle. Every car manufactured since 2001 has been required to have one of these installed in the trunk. If the car is older or the handle has been disabled, try to access the tire jack underneath your body.

You can then use it as a lever to force the trunk open. An alternative for a moving car is to attempt kicking out a brake light and waving for help.