Survival Kit for Hostages


Every day we wake up to violence, kidnapping or hostage-taking. This has become a part of our daily life. It might sound scary, but I often think about what I would do if I were part of such a situation. Could I survive? What kind of act, or strategy so to speak, would work in a situation like that? I pieced together what I have so far.

Try to escape

If you can escape the initial abduction or hostage attempt, your ordeal ends right there. However, the first few minutes of a hostage-taking situation or an abduction are the most dangerous.  The abductor can become more dangerous if you resist.

In many cases, the potential for immediate escape outweighs the danger of resistance.  However, there are times (if there are multiple armed attackers, for example) where escape is not realistic and therefore not worth the risk. Think rationally and be cooperative in this sort of situation.

The first few minutes are often the best time to resist since there are probably people around you, depending on where you are at the time of being abducted.

Pull yourself together

You are nervous and scared. Regain your composure. Calm down. The sooner you can regain your composure the better off you will be immediately and in the long run.

Be observant

Right from the start, you should try to observe and remember as much as possible.  Being alert can help you plan an escape, predict your abductor’s or hostage-taker’s next moves, or give information to the police to aid in a rescue of other kidnapped individuals. Even if you happen to be blindfolded, you can still gather information with your other senses.

  • Observe your captor(s)
  • How many are there?
  • Are they armed? If so, with what?
  • Are they in good physical condition?
  • What do they look and/or sound like?
  • How old are they?
  • Do they seem well-prepared?
  • What are their emotional states?
  • Observe your surroundings
  • Where are you being taken?
  • Observe yourself
  • Are you injured or wounded?
  • How are you bound or otherwise incapacitated? How much freedom of movement do you have?

Keep a survival attitude

Be positive. Remember, most victims survive. The odds are with you. That said, you should prepare yourself for a long captivity. Some hostages have been held for years…but they kept a positive attitude, played their cards right, and were eventually freed. Take it one day at a time.

Put your captor at ease

Be calm. Cooperate (within reason) with your captor. Don’t make threats or become violent, and don’t attempt to escape unless the time is right.

Keep your dignity

It is generally psychologically harder for a person to kill, rape, or otherwise harm a captive if the captive remains “human” in the captor’s eyes. Do not grovel, beg, or become hysterical. Try not to cry. Do not challenge your abductor, but show him/her that you are worthy of respect.

Try to set up a communication with your abductor

If you can build some sort of bond with your captor, he/she will generally be more hesitant to harm you.

Avoid insulting

Avoid insulting your abductor or talking about potentially sensitive subjects. You may think your abductor is a pathetic, disgusting individual. While captives in movies sometimes get away with saying such things, you should keep these thoughts to yourself.

Be a good listener

Care about what your captor has to say. Don’t patronize him, but be empathetic, and he’ll feel more comfortable around you.

Try to communicate with other captives

If you are held with other captives, talk to them as much as possible. If you look out for each other and have others to talk to, your captivity will be easier to handle.

Keep track of time

Try to discern patterns. Keeping track of time can help you establish routines that will enable you to maintain your dignity and your sanity. It can also help you plan and execute an escape if you can detect patterns of when your abductor comes and goes and for how long he is gone.

Stay mentally active

Think about what you’ll do when you get back home. Hold conversations in your head with friends and loved ones. Do these things consciously, and you won’t be going crazy; you’ll be keeping yourself sane.

Stay out of the way

If a rescue attempt is made, keep in mind that aside from the first few minutes of an abduction, the rescue attempt is the most dangerous time in a hostage situation. Your captors may become desperate and attempt to use you as a shield, or they may simply decide to kill any hostages.

Hopefully, you won’t need to apply any of these tips in your lifetime. But who knows, keep them in the back of your mind.