How to Avoid and Survive a Kidnapping

Abduction and kidnapping has ever been a fixture of human violence. Be it done for purposes of ransom, as a psychological or emotional weapon or just to quench the sadism and bloodlust of the kidnapper, being the victim of such is certainly one of the most harrowing and most dangerous things that can possibly happen to you.

Victims of kidnapping are placed into extreme jeopardy, completely dependent upon their captors’ whim and will, unless they can escape.

man tied behind his back with rope

If the kidnappers discover or already know that you are valuable to them you will be ransomed, and when the ransom is paid, you might be let go or you might be disposed of.

If the kidnappers find out that you don’t have any value or they grabbed the wrong person they might decide to take no chances and get rid of you anyway versus letting you go. This assumes, of course, that you are not simply the object of the kidnapper’s desire in the first place…

Everything about abduction is ugly, and it is imperative that you know both how to avoid being kidnapped, and how to escape if the unthinkable happens. In this article, I will provide you with advice and procedures for accomplishing both.

Kidnapped? Me?

Yes, you. No one is ever truly safe from the threat of kidnapping, no more than you are completely safe from any human violence.

No matter who you are, young or old, man or woman, there exists the possibility you could be kidnapped. Wherever you have other humans, you have the possibility of violence.

With that being said, some people are far more vulnerable to kidnapping than others, and this vulnerability is intensified in certain areas of the nation and the globe where kidnapping is more commonplace, especially as a means of income.

People can be kidnapped for a host of reasons. In some countries and continents, places like Mexico, South America, the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia, kidnapping is often conducted on a mass scale as an income-producing endeavor for organized crime.

You don’t have to be a visiting oil baron or tech company CEO to be targeted for kidnapping in these places; simply looking like what you are – a foreigner – is enough to get you rolled in hopes of getting a ransom paid.

On the other hand, if you are a person of some renown, even if it is just being an employee of a large and wealthy corporation operating in the area, this might be enough to see you specially targeted.

You need not think that serious criminal enterprises don’t have their own intelligence-gathering apparatus working in overdrive at all times…

And men, you might think that simply being male affords you some protection against being kidnapped, but you would be wrong; many professional kidnappers and the teams they are part of are entirely comfortable, and proficient at snatching men as easily as women.

You could be heading overseas on vacation, or simply traveling through a human trafficking hub in your own country on a work detail; it will affect your chances of getting yoinked, but no matter where you are you are never 100% safe from the threat of kidnapping.

For this reason, it is in your best interest to learn how to avoid being abducted and how to escape if that happens. In the next section we will look at some of the nuts and bolts of typical kidnapping operations as well as how to best thwart various types of kidnapping attempt.

Kidnapping Need-to-Know Info

  • Obvious displays of wealth and prosperity are likely to get you targeted for kidnapping anywhere that the practice is endemic.
  • There is no set-in-stone template for kidnapping; you might be abducted by a disorganized, unruly gang or a desperate small-time duo in one part of the world, or snatched by a professional, well-oiled team or lone henchman in another. Determining who has taken you might be an important part of your overall survival strategy.
  • Some kidnappings are shockingly brazen events that can take place in someone’s home or temporary lodging, or in the middle of the street. You are not necessarily safe just because you are not in the bad part of town.
  • Some kidnappers will enact a “live” capture, hustling you into a vehicle, or taking control of your own vehicle with you still conscious. Others will attempt to incapacitate you with the use of gas, drugs or other subterfuge.
  • Learn the kidnapping hotspots of the country or region you are in. Kidnappings will be far more common in some cities than others.
  • Kidnappings may be of a shorter duration, an extortionary affair where you are held in a location while the kidnappers drain your debit card and other accounts, or long-duration where you are held in ransom until your loved ones or your insurer if you have KRE (Kidnap, Ransom, Extortion insurance) pay the kidnappers off to let you go.
  • Your kidnappers may execute you if they think the situation has gotten beyond their control, has grown too risky, or there is no payoff forthcoming. This is also highly likely if you have been kidnapped for ideological reasons or by known terrorist groups.

It is imperative that you keep a few things in mind as soon as you perceive you are being targeted for kidnapping, or you detect the attempt. The following may make the difference between life and death:

  • A kidnapping can be initiated in any number of ways. One common method used south of the U.S. Southern border is to overwhelm somebody in their own vehicle, and use it to drive them to a secondary location. Hustling them into a waiting vehicle is also common. Other kidnappings are initiated by a seemingly innocent minor fender-bender that gets you to pull over or stop, or a crooked taxi driver or his accomplices hitting you with a knockout agent.
  • As with any crime, being taken away from the initial location where it occurs is bad news. Things will get steadily worse from there. But understand if you are targeted by a professional snatch team, you still might have virtually no opportunity to resist initially.
  • Experienced kidnappers will make it a point to frisk you in order to remove any weapons or tools that might aid escape attempts. The longer you are in their custody the more thorough and the more intrusive searches will become, to include removal of most or even all of your clothing.
  • Similarly, the quality and intricacy of your restraints and your holding cell will increase the longer you are held and moved from place to place. Once again, you will have an easier time escaping earlier in your captivity than later.
  • If you determine that you are dealing with professional kidnappers who are demanding a ransom or just trying to drain your bank account of money, there is a better-than-average chance you will be released once the ransom is paid. However, if things go badly or they are disappointed, your fate may be in jeopardy. Your chances of surviving a kidnapping by a deranged person if you do not affect self-rescue are virtually zero.

How to Survive Being Kidnapped!

The following steps and procedures should help you escape captivity and survive your kidnapping, if worse comes to worst.

1) Maintain Overall Awareness, Especially in Areas of High Kidnapping Activity

Situational awareness is usually the single best thing you can do for yourself in order to increase your chances of survival no matter the situation, but it is especially important to avoid or escape a kidnapping. This is doubly crucial in areas of known high kidnapping activity.

Generally, you should strive to be very familiar with the area you are living, working, or traveling in.

You want to know major man-made and natural landmarks in the surrounding region to better orient yourself in case you pop up somewhere not of your choosing after you manage to escape your captors’ clutches.

If this is in or around a large metropolitan area, being broadly familiar with the various districts and boroughs can help orient you in a similar fashion; terrain recognition works in and out of the city!

When you are abducted it is a virtual certainty that your kidnappers will blindfold you or otherwise obscure your vision, and possibly your other senses as well in order to confuse you.

If you pop out of captivity in an unfamiliar area it will help greatly to know which direction to head to go toward help.

You also want to be acquainted with organized criminal activity in the area, especially those groups that regularly employ kidnapping. Understanding your enemy is the first step toward beating them, and in your case beating them is simply a matter of staying out of their hands.

You want to know where they typically operate, what identifying marks, logos, colors or uniforms they employ, typical vehicle selection if any, and what methods they usually use during their kidnapping. All of these things will inform your decision making process.

2) Always Carry Tools (But They Must Be Well-Hidden!)

Most preppers already carry an EDC kit consisting of various tools and even weapons to help them survive the perils of the modern world.

If you are seriously worried about a kidnapping attempt, and escaping from one, you’ll need to add a few special purpose items to your accoutrement in the form of escape tools:

  • handcuff keys,
  • shims,
  • simple lock picks,
  • compact knives or razor blades,
  • and even specialized goodies like high-strength, thin fiber that can saw through restraints are all worthwhile additions.

While these types of items have proliferated in the prepping communities, there is one resulting blind spot that most people do not account for…

Thanks to an increasing number of programs and articles (like this) one on the internet warning and preparing people for kidnapping attempts, the people doing the kidnapping have upped their game in a sort of “arms race”; an arms race that pits measure against countermeasure over and over in an endless cycle.

Most seasoned or skilled kidnappers will now start frisking people they abduct immediately, or simply stripping them in order to deprive them of the tools they anticipate their victims carrying.

Your fancy paracord bracelet with a handcuff key buckle, the lock picks clipped on behind your belt and the razor blade in the tongue of your shoe or boot will all go missing very quickly, meaning they won’t be able to help you.

You must be prepared to hide these tools in ingenious ways that are still accessible even when restrained. Easier said than done, and this is largely dependent upon how you dress and your own flexibility.

As mentioned above, you can depend on the searching and stripping to grow ever more thorough and invasive the longer you are in the custody of the kidnappers. You must access your tools and use them to good effect the moment you have an opportunity; you may not get another one!

3) Submit or Fight: Countering the Abduction

When the moment of truth comes and the kidnapping attempt actually initiates, you’ll have to correctly assess the situation, and then decide what to do. Broadly speaking things will only get worse for you if you are taken away from the site of the initial contact.

For this reason, if you are dealing only with one or two kidnappers who do not appear to be particularly skilled or professional your best bet is probably to attempt to flee immediately especially if help is nearby. They will likely give up once the attempt goes bad.

But this also does not mean you won’t have to fight!

If you’re dealing with individuals who appear professional or very experienced, and they are employing lethal cover (which is an increasingly common practice, mind you), you must be prepared to fight and, perhaps, die if you want to avoid being taken somewhere else against your will.

On the other hand, your best chance of survival may come from initially submitting without a fight in order to take advantage of any opportunity forthcoming, no matter how brief, to either turn the tables on your captors or simply get away.

By not attempting any resistance, you may be able to set your captors up for failure using such methods as getting your hands bound or otherwise restrained in front of your body versus behind you, relaxing your body in order to gain mobility when restrained and generally lulling the bad guys into a false sense of security.

4) Practice Employing Unarmed and Improvised Weapon Combat

Since it is a virtual certainty that you’ll be deprived of any genuine weapon while in captivity, you must become fluent at doling out lethal or disabling damage using nothing but your hands and feet, as well as making use of and fashioning improvised weapons from any material available.

This is the only way you might gain a decisive edge quickly enough over armed captors.

Also keep in mind the weapon you are most readily able to source is the one being used by your captors. It is definitely worth your time to learn some simple, effective weapon takeaways that you can employ explosively the precise instant they let their guard down.

But even learning these techniques, be prepared for a life-or-death fight the moment you decide to touch things off.

Regarding improvised weapons, you might be surprised to see what kind of damage can be done with the most rudimentary materials, and furthermore what kind of weapons can be fashioned from them.

If prisoners all around the world are held in the strictest and most oppressive high security prisons and still create weapons seemingly out of nothing and keep them concealed on their person, you can do the same. All it takes is a little know-how and ingenuity.

Common objects can be used to deadly effect as-is; everything from loose ceramic tile to hefty books can pack a deadly punch.

Weapons can be crafted from nothing more than a short piece of wood, the plastic barrel of a disposable pen or a small stone rolled up in a piece of cloth or a bandana. These can be fashioned into spikes and flails respectively.

The chief weapon is the human will and your own ingenuity. No matter how austere the conditions you are being kept in are, you will be able to come up with something that you can fashion into a weapon.

5) Seize the First Opportunity to Escape that is Presented.

This is perhaps the most important lesson you can learn when it comes to surviving the kidnapping itself.

You absolutely must take the first viable opportunity to escape that is presented and capitalize on it with everything you can muster. You might not get another one! The longer your captivity drags on, the worse your overall situation will become.

First, you’ll be continually moved, searched and stripped, meaning you will lose more and more tools and material available to you. Second, as grim as it is to contemplate, you have to count on your captors abusing you or at the very least starving you and depriving you of water.

This means your physical and mental condition will be steadily deteriorating. It is true that they might let you go if they don’t get what they want, but they’re almost as likely to just kill you and dispose of your body as they are to do that.

Do you really want to give up your vote in the outcome of the situation and place it solely in the hands of the people who abducted you in the first place?

When you have the means and the opportunity to escape, go for it!


Kidnapping is an existential threat in many areas, and no matter who you are and where you live you will never be completely safe from the possibility.

Surviving from a kidnapping is a matter of correctly understanding your kidnap risk and a specific area, assessing the kidnappers and having the tools, training and tenacity necessary in order to affect escape.

It will be a harrowing, potentially deadly experience no matter what happens, but if you keep your head, it is possible to escape and survive.

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