You’re a prominent, outspoken social figure and come from a wealthy family. It’s late and you’re in a foreign city for business. You’re strolling down the street alone, when all of a sudden, you are confronted by a man holding a gun and he’s telling you to get into a van.

The first 48 to 72 hours following an abduction are critical. After this time period, memories begin to fail and the trail gets cold. Hopefully your captor doesn’t have murderous intentions, because the longer you are held captive, the higher your chance of survival.

Should you resist if threatened with a weapon? Is it better to antagonize your captor or become docile? When should you attempt an escape?

Step 1: Fight and Run

You should try to break free from your abductor as quickly as possible. Yell ‘fire’ or ‘police’ to get people’s attention.

Attempt to fight them off with any weapon you have available. A pen, car keys, an aerosol can, anything you can get your hands on that will cause harm. Target sensitive areas like the eyes, throat, groin, and knees.

If they threaten death or injury unless you go with them, you should still take your chances and run. Even if they have a weapon, do not go with them willingly. Once you’re alone, your captor has all the power. But what if you aren’t able to get away?

Step 2: Be Docile and Agreeable

If you’re captured, now is the time to be calm and polite. You want to avoid angering your captor, so don’t show any attitude and steer clear of sensitive topics such as politics or religion. Follow any rules given and do not engage with them unless they talk directly to you. Your goal is to maintain as low a profile as possible to avoid harm or death. The longer you can survive, the better chance you have of escaping.

Step 3: Pay Close Attention

Memorize as many details as you can of the abduction. The license plate, how many turns you took, if you stopped at all, specific noises. Repeat these details in your mind until they become lodged in your memory. They will aid in your escape and could help authorities locate your kidnapper later.

Step 4: Observe Your Captor

As covertly as possible, study everything about your captor. Carefully notice their facial features, voice, any accent, strange characteristics, clothing, and aliases they may go by. All of these will be important for identifying the person if you manage to escape.

Step 5: Devise an Escape Route

Observe your surroundings and use all information available to begin creating a viable escape plan. Look for possible exits and note the schedule of your captor. Keep refining your exit strategy until it’s the right time to implement it. And do not attempt to escape unless you have a solid window of opportunity.

Step 6: Maintain Your Sanity

This is not the easiest thing to do when you’re kidnapped. But meditating, exercising, and creating a routine can help stabilize your mental health. If possible, keep up your personal hygiene and stay hydrated. Focus on things that bring you joy and remember happy events from your past. You’ll need all the positivity and patience you can muster while you wait for the perfect moment to break free.

Step 7: Escape

It’s finally time to attempt your escape. Either the best possible window of opportunity has arrived, or you have no other choice because your captor is starting to act strange. Nervousness, excitement, panic, or a change in the usual routine could be signals they are preparing to kill you. So you need to get out of there, fast. Now is the moment to carry out the plan you’ve been hatching for so long.

And, free at last! Run directly to the nearest police station, fire station, or public area for immediate assistance. Thankfully, you have successfully escaped and survived being kidnapped. But the psychological effects are far from over. Make sure you seek professional help and understand it could be a long road to recovery.

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