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Abduction Hostage Survival

by Kenn Griffiths 

Posted: 31 May 2007
Word Count: 1934

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Hostage Survival.
Kenn Griffiths.

Being kidnapped and kept as a hostage is a terrorist act that has been used the world over and continues to be used in an effort to get the authorities to succumb to the kidnapper’s demands. The problem is the authorities will not meet the demands. To do so would show weakness and prove to the terrorists that kidnapping works. Contrary to popular belief negotiations do go on and hostage negotiators work alongside the intelligence services to try to bring a peaceful solution without giving in to the demands. At the same time special forces seek and find teams are deployed to track down the whereabouts of the hostages and prepare for a rescue attempt.

Hostage situations vary and anyone one of us could be taken at any time. If it’s you, the fact that you have not been killed in the first place suggests that the kidnappers have some reason to keep you alive, for the time being at least. This fact is the key to your early survival. Because they have a reason to keep you alive they will hesitate before taking your life. From the second you are aware of your kidnap you should be looking for a way to escape. The longer you are held captive, the more difficult it is to escape. In the first moments of capture you will probably be in an area where there is an element of normality, so if you can effect your escape at this early stage the chances are that you can find salvation and help locally, however, once you are taken away from the area you will probably not know where you are or who you can trust if you do escape.

Once the kidnappers have detained you it is normal practice for them to restrain you by tying you up and gagging you. Even when this has been done there is the chance of a quick escape. The way you do this is to present parts of your body to be bound in such a way that the binding can be loosened afterwards. Present your hands in front of your body by keeping the heels of your hands together and slightly cupping them. At the same time keep your hands close to your body with your elbows pushed out. This action causes your wrists to part. Binding you in this position allows you to straighten your arms later, which will push your wrists together, loosening the bindings. Flattening your hands, palm to palm will further loosen them until you can wriggle free. If a mouth gag is being used push your chin on your chest and puff your cheeks out. If it is at all possible, keep your teeth tightly closed. These positions will again allow you to loosen your bindings when you draw your chin, open your teeth and stretch your neck to its full extent. If your hands are being tied behind your back present them thumb to thumb with your palms facing outwards and your arms slightly bent. Once again try to ensure that there is a good gap between your wrists. Turning your hands palm to palm and drawing them up your back will loosen the binding and allow you to slip out. Having loosened your bindings you may be in a position to surprise your captors by escaping from them when they are complacent. Running out of a building into a street full of local people will bring immediate attention to your problem. It would be unlikely that your kidnappers would dare to re-take you in full view of the general public.

If you have not had a chance to escape in the very early stages of your captivity the chances are that you will be moved from the initial kidnap site in the back of a vehicle, quite often this will be a car. If you have a mouth gag you will probably be made to lie in the well between the front and rear seats and covered over so that you cannot be seen. If you are not gagged you may be sat in the rear of the vehicle with a guard. In both cases think about escaping by loosening your bindings and quickly opening the door and jumping out as the vehicle moving. Clearly you would be foolish to attempt this if the vehicle is travelling at speed. But, in the middle of a city or town, the chances are that the vehicle will often have to slow down to compensate for other road users. An ideal time to jump is when the vehicle is pulling away from a set of traffic lights. Force the door open and throw yourself out of the near-side, making sure you don’t throw yourself under a passing vehicle. You will certainly suffer cuts and bruises but this will be much better than the problems you will encounter from becoming a hostage. Once the vehicle has left the city etc. it will probably be travelling at great speed and in areas where there are few people. If you miss the early opportunity to escape then the chances are that you will have to wait a very long time before you can spot another window of opportunity.

Surviving until the window of opportunity presents itself or you are released will be your priority. In the early stages hostages are often very confused and obviously have trouble coming to terms with their predicament. They are bewildered and feel exceptionally vulnerable. They obviously mistrust their captors and, in group hostage situations there are periods when there is a mistrust of ones self and colleagues. Keeping the mind positively active is a very important part of hostage survival. To allow the mind to dwell on negative thoughts will inevitable sap the will to survive. Never let the mind relax, keep it positively active. This is best accomplished by having a personal project. This may be building an imaginary lavish garden, a luxury home, a rocket, in fact anything that is productive. This doesn’t mean just thinking about the building etc. It means planning every minor detail, the materials needed, the human resources, the actual building of it, brick by brick, plant by plant. In the hostage situation the one thing that the captors cannot take away from you are your thoughts, the inner you. You must keep this part of you totally in your control at all times.

In isolation, with minimum human contact there is a feeling of hopelessness that you have to overcome. The only emotional support for you, is you! Living without affection of any kind can eat away at you and it is this that you must always guard against. Political hostages are often forced to make public statements, admitting to a crime against the state or its people, or denouncing a country, its people and/or its politics. Not agreeing with the views of your captors and not wanting to make any statements is in some ways accepted and so the isolation, tiredness and uncertainty are used to wear you down to a stage where you will say and do almost anything. The captors will try everything to domineer. But to completely domineer they have to break you. A way of accomplishing this is to threaten to take your life. Having the courage to accept that they may well kill you and being able to live with that thought without fear takes away the most powerful lever the captors have to force you to conform, to do as they say. Quite often when hostages get to this stage and have come to terms with the possibility of their death they have turned the tables on their captors. It can become a battle of wills. The captor determined to break the hostage, to rule not just the body but the mind as well. The hostage, accepting that there is little he can do to stop the punishments on his body, but resisting every attempt to capture his mind. In these situations the captor losses if he takes the hostage’s life. The result is that the captor will continue to try to break the hostage, making sure he does not die for fear of failure.

The chances are that you will be held in a building. Probably not far from a busy street or near to someone who can help you? You must constantly review the best action to take to survive your ordeal. You have to be sure that to escape is in your best interests. It may be the case that you are being held in quite decent surroundings and being treated properly. This may be because there are negotiations going on to secure your release. There certainly will be some action being taken to help you from outside agencies but only you can decide whether or not your life is at risk and that escape is a realistic possibility.

Having decided that your survival will depend on your escaping you should prepare and plan your escape if that is possible. If not you will have to play the waiting game until the opportunity arises. Your route out of the building may well include having to drop from a window, low roof or wall. Being able to drop and land properly will lessen the risk of re-capture due to injury. When faced with a high drop, look for the softest place to land, if you can try to cushion your fall with clothing, bedding etc. Where you can, ease yourself over the edge of the drop, making sure you are facing the building, keep one hand holding on until your arm is fully stretched. Look down and pick a safe spot to land. Whilst still holding on, place your free hand on the wall and push away from the as you let go. The push should be enough to keep you clear from hitting the building during the descent. It should also spin you a little so that you face away from the building. Keep looking at the spot you intend to land on. Keep you ankles and knees pressed together and your legs slightly bent at the knees. Push your chin onto your chest and keep your teeth together. Pull both of your hands up to the side of your head. Position yourself to land with the balls of the feet landing first. Do not land heels first. As soon as your feet hit the ground, force your knees to the side. This move combined with the forward force of your body will turn you in such a way that you will roll onto the floor, thereby spreading the impact. By doing this your body will gradually take the force of the landing and greatly reduce the chance of injury. Once you are safely on the ground make good your escape.
Tips to avoid becoming a hostage.
• Be aware that you could be a target and avoid bringing undue attention to yourself.
• If you are in a foreign country dress down and avoid any conflict or debate, especially on the subjects of politics, religion and race.
• Do not drive around alone, especially in a local hire car or a car showing foreign license plates.
• Only use approved Taxicabs.
• When you are on foot face oncoming traffic. This will lessen the risk of a car full of kidnappers coming up from behind you without you knowing, and taking you from behind.
• Change your daily routines regularly to make it difficult for anyone to plan your kidnapping.

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