A Dallas, Texas socialite was abducted by twokidnappers. Afraid of sexual molestation, she did not even ask to go to thebathroom. Kept for nearly 48 hours, she nearly died of toxemia. She had retainedtoo many poisons in her own body and began to reassimilate her own bodyliquids.
The woman didn’t know what to do. She didn’tknow what not to do. Certainly, she was very frightened. Kidnap victims,skyjacked passengers or terrorist hostages have similar problems, whether theyare here at home, or abroad. Americans read new accounts about kidnappings allthe time, but usually these accounts are about expatriates living overseas.
But actually, more Americans are kidnapped herein the U.S. The Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics: 1990 reveals thetrue dimensions of this problem. Last year alone, some 3,089 victims wereabducted in just eight states (Alaska, California, Delaware, Minnesota,Missouri, New York and Pennsylvania). Eight hundred and thirty-four kidnapperswere sentenced to the penitentiaries in 36 states and 142 defendants accused ofkidnapping charges were convicted in US, District Courts.
How can you survive the unknowns of terroristor criminal captivity? Being a kidnap victim is difficult. There is a terriblestrain on the mind and on the emotions. Your captors may kill you – but youwant to survive. Guidelines that have helped other hostages walk away from theevents are reviewed in this article. Those persons cited as examples weresurvivors. They were successful victims.
All survivors obey a few rules. Some survivorsdo it instinctively. Others do it because they were trained to. The ideal wayto comprehend the rules is by training or study before an abduction mightoccur. Then you can have the tools necessary for survival.
The biggest impediment to survival is you! Youcan choose to run, or to fight, even in the face of overwhelming force. Or youcan allow yourself to be totally incapacitated by your own fear. You can also»take charge» even when threatened. You should begin now to recognizeyour strengths. You can train yourself to overcome your weaknesses. You cantake responsibility for your own safety.
The thinking you put into a kidnap attemptavoidance plan may serve as a powerful weapon in the future. You can react froma position of strength, rather than weakness. ff the show of force isoverwhelming you can always change your mind. You can always attempt to escape,but the State Department reports indicate that only one percent of all Americanhostage victims are successful in completing an escape.
Complacency is the number one enemy in thebattle against crime or terrorism. Complacency says, “It won’t happen to me.”Reality says, “It could happen to me – I had better be prepared.” By taking apro-active approach to risk, you can avoid it entirely. You can circumventterror and crime. You can avoid becoming a victim.
Whether you are traveling to a country that isdangerous or driving to your own grocery store through a «crime zone»patronized by drug pushers, pimps, and prostitutes, you must obey the rules.Simple responses to threats are appropriate. Lock your car doors. Be observant.Don’t let any event distract you from maintaining an avoidance profile. Aboveall, if you don’t have to travel through a high risk area – don’t!
You can do many things to decrease yourvictimization probability. You can dress down. Avoid wearing expensiveclothing, jewelry or accessories. A $25,000 fully equipped Buick, Olds orMercury is less conspicuous than a basic BMW or a Mercedes of the same value.Any convertible is vulnerable because it can be entered with a knife-slash.
You should leave any expensive luggage or attachéat home when traveling overseas or to high-crime areas. If you have a titlelike M.D., Ph.D., Chief Executive, or Chairman of the Board of Directors, youshould leave it at home, as well. Who cares? And a high status can move you upto the top of a criminal gang’s priority list. Do not attract attention toyourself. Maintain a low profile. Decrease your risk by love-key behavior.
It is relatively easy to recognize that you areabout to be attacked. There is a four «act» performance in almost anycriminal or terrorist event. These four acts include a surveillance stage, aninvitation stage, a confrontation stage, and the attack stage.
If you can sense a stationary surveillance orspot that someone is following you, now is the time to react. Run, hide orobtain assistance immediately. This is the best time to avoid being attacked.As each stage progresses, danger increases for the potential victim.
The invitation stage is usually an apparentlyinnocuous event. Someone approaches your car at an intersection. This personpretends to want directions. Perhaps a young and attractive lady is trying tofix a flat on a lonely road. You want to help, but to do so increases yourrisk. If you are distracted by giving directions or stopping to help the lady,you allow the trap to be set. You can then find yourself in the confrontationstage.
The confrontation stage is more difficult toevade. The potential abductors are getting into your personal space. You areaccessible. It is more difficult to evade capture. When guns or knives arepresent, you may be seriously injured or killed if you attempt to resist.
Sometimes the observation or surveillance stageas well as the invitation, confrontation, and assault occur spontaneously. Youmay be attacked without warning, preamble, or verbal exchange. The norm,however, is that there is a time separation between the four events. If youwere alert, you avoided the incident entirely. If you evaded the surveillance,or avoided the invitation, then there could not be a criminal or terroristicvictimization.
The confrontation stage is more dangerous thanthe first two stages. But if you can see it coming, you can still run out intotraffic, jump on top of cars, get into a cab or use some other evasive tactic.Once you have been confronted with weapons, however, the rules change. Nowyou’ll play «Russian roulette» with your life, as you accept newrisks and prevalent incisive danger.
A high percentage of all victims are attackedwhile in their car. Once the attack is initiated, there may be incredibleviolence. Many bodyguards and chauffeurs are killed imme
diately during anassault. The principal is not killed because they want you to live. They arekidnapping you for a good reason. At least insofar as your own life isconcerned, you share a co-equal desire for survival. Dead victims do not helpthe perpetrators get a ransom or any other benefit.
Those who are killed have acted precipitously,abruptly, or have provoked their captors. Any resistance occurring whilestaring down the barrel of a gun is considered to be provocative behavior. Itis absolutely necessary to remain calm and quiet. Don’t try to be a hero.»Rambos» don’t really live long in the real world only in fiction.
Resisting may be what you would prefer, but itis incredibly dangerous, especially during the first moments of the event. Ifyou do or say the wrong thing, you’ll be dead. Most terrorists are prettyyoung. Their adrenaline flows ninety to nothing. They want to succeed. Tb live,you will probably have to help them a little. Cooperation is the key tosurvival. No resistance, even of a passive nature, is appropriate during theattack stage. Unless you are incredibly well equipped to run away or flee inyour car, you shouldn’t. Unless you worked out in a martial arts facilityrecently and have a great deal of skill, you should not fight. You must havethe will to kill if you .fight your aggressors.
Most of the kidnap victims, who are murdered,are killed during the first few seconds of a kidnap takedown. They are killedbecause they did not know how to act. Perhaps they ran. Maybe they resisted.Experience indicates that if the hostage does not resist at the point ofassault, he or she will be more likely to survive.
The second most dangerous time is during arescue attempt. Brian Jerkins, in Numbered Lives, established that 79 percentof all hostages killed, perished during rescue attempts. Hostages should getdown on the ground or floor and remain there during any rescue attempt. Theyshould stay still until instructed otherwise.
Your Attitude Counts
Psychologists tell us that there are two typesof hostages. Successful hostages are called survivors. Less successful victimsare called succumbers. 7b simplify the description one could say that thesuccessful hostage maintains his or her dignity. The succumber grovels andpatronizes. There is a big difference. There are two weapons the militarypsychologists taught Viet Nam pilots in their P.O.W. indoctrination trainingThey said every prisoner must have faith and hope. Faith in God, faith incountry, faith in the military; or in an executive’s case – faith in corporateor family aid. You must also have an encompassing hope to return to your way oflife.
Faith and hope can give you direction. You mustcope. You must survive. Your attitude cannot deteriorate into deep forms ofdepression. Depression can rob you of any interest in food, water, exercise(both mental and physical), or in returning to your family and friends.
Unless you suspect some hidden danger, eat thefood you are given. Use the nourishment to maintain your strength in case youhave the opportunity to escape. You must also drink a full daily waterallotment for good health. Exercise your body and your mind.
One succumber was a hostage victim named FaustoBuchelli. Fausto had been reassigned from a California Plant to Latin Americafor a temporary assignment. He was kidnapped in El Salvador and was released inonly 43 days. But in that time frame his health deteriorated to the point thathe couldn’t even walk. He had to be carried to freedom.
Very few executives are mistreated in terroristhostage takings. The revolutionaries want you to live – for their purposes – soyou are not likely to be abused. If you get sick they will probably evenprovide a physician. United Kingdom Ambassador Geoffrey Jackson served inUruguay during the 1970s. He was held for nearly nine months. When he becameill a physician was called. Dr. Claude Fly, an American Agronomist was likewisetreated and released when his health deteriorated.
General James Dozier was chained to a captorwho was assigned to kill him if a rescue operation occurred. When the rescueoccurred, however, he could not pull the trigger. He explained that when hefirst captured General Dozier, all he saw was an «American ImperialisticPig.»
But as he got to know the general, he came torespect him. When the Red Brigade member heard the rescue party coming in, hepointed his gun at General Dozier, but could not kill him. He said «I sawa sleeping man – I could not kill a sleeping man.» When you form relationshipsbased on respect, you are also involved in a strong survivalist program.
If you think you’ll survive, you probably will.I like to use a cancer recovery example to compare with hostage taking. Onerecent book on cancer indicated that individuals who were diagnosed as beingterminally ill usually died if they accepted the diagnosis. Those who decidedto live and maintained a healthy lifestyle and a positive mental attitude wereremarkably successful. They usually survived.
You can be the same way as a terrorist hostage.Decide that you are going to survive. Decide that you are returning to yourfamily, your job, and your way of life. Then do what it takes to survive.Simply be polite and courteous. Don’t grovel or beg. That kind of attitude is neverworthy of respect. Don’t show your fear or your depression. Use every methodDale Carnegie ever taught – and you will be successful in a prison camp as wellas in a business setting.
Maximize your strengths. Control yourweaknesses. You can be a «successful» victim. You can be a survivor.You can walk away from captivity as a better person than when you went in. Studythe kidnap survival concepts carefully.
You too, can learn to avoid captivity. Even ifyour terrorism or crime avoidance programs fail, you can still use the»successful victim» strategy. You can live through an abduction. Youcan survive an extended period of captivity.