Being kidnapped is terrifying. It places you at the complete and utter mercy of those who have taken you. And these are mostly likely not the friendliest individuals. I'm going to be honest, getting kidnapped puts you in a precarious position. It's often a life or death situation.

But before you start plotting your own escape you need to consider the why.

Why have you been taken?

If it's for a financial ransom, and assuming your family has the means to pay it, you need to realize your kidnappers are going to operate like a business. You're probably safest if you sit tight and wait for the money to come through. If, however you've been captured as a political prisoner, as part of a human trafficking ring, or simply caught the eye of a sadistic psychopath, you're better off trying to escape. You never know what kind of torment they'll submit you to if you don’t.

When to actually escape

The initial kidnapping is your best chance of escape, especially if it's going down in a public place. Of course, if your attackers are in your home it can be difficult to follow these steps, your focus then should be on escaping your restraints and getting out of your home to get help.

Scream and get attention

Your first means of defense is to raise the alarm. Scream, and try to enlist the help of any bystanders who may give you the chance to overpower your attacker and escape. Shouting "fire" works better than "help", and if you've got the ability to smash any glass, do it. The sound carries and may draw more attention than your cries alone.

Be willing to fight back

If you're somewhere that no help is coming, it may be up to you to fight back and save yourself. Your very life may depend on it, so don't hold anything back. Using tools like pepper spray or a strikelight can give you an edge in a fight, targeting the most vulnerable areas on your opponent. Go for the throat, the eyes, the genitals and hit as fast and hard as you can.

Get ready to run

Once you've got the opportunity to escape, it's probably going to involve a fair bit of running. Most likely, they'll have a vehicle they were intending to restrain you in, so pay attention to which car is theirs. Then run in the opposite direction. If you can cut through any areas their car cannot pass, like the wheel stops in a parking lot, use these to put distance between you and your kidnapper.

Find a public place

As you're running, look for the most public place you can find. Your kidnapper is very unlikely to continue pursuing you if you've headed into a mall or a place with lots of people. Which will give you the chance to call the police while those around you discourage the kidnapper from trying anything else. They may even simply leave once they realize you're no longer an easy target.

But fleeing the initial kidnapping isn't always possible. Perhaps they surprised you. Or overpowered you. The next step is to break free from your restraints so you can escape.

Escaping handcuffs

Getting out of handcuffs is relatively straightforward with the right materials. There's shoelace caps that are handcuff keys, and I've also got a single key I've bought and keep on my keychain. You can also buy rings that conceal shims, which is a thin strip of metal that inserts between the handcuff teeth and locking pawl, allowing it to be slipped open. Without these, you can also pick the lock with a hairpin, but I'd recommend doing a little practice first. It takes time to get the knack for it.

Escaping ropes

Getting out of ropes requires a little deception on your part. When you're being tied, the trick here is to act compliant, while actually creating a small gap between your wrists. Present your fists with knuckles pointing towards your kidnapper, that conceals the gap between your arms. Try to keep your arms as close to your stomach as possible, and once you're alone start twisting your arms to widen the gap until the rope slips off your hands.

Escaping duct tape and zip ties

Getting out of duct tape is relatively straightforward, it just requires a little momentum. If your arms are restrained stretch the tape as tight as possible, raise your hands above your head and swing them down to hit your stomach. You need to do it hard for it to work, but the force of the impact will cause the duct tape to tear, and you'll get your hands free. You can use a similar technique to break zip ties.

Escaping from a car

If you've been taken, you're most likely to be stuffed in the trunk of a car. But it's still not hopeless. Many cars have an emergency release mechanism to pop the trunk, and if it doesn't you could always use the jack (tucked in the side panel) to force it open, or to kick out the rear taillights in the hope someone notices your arm sticking out and calls the authorities.

Being kidnapped is a scary thought. If you've not been able to escape the initial grab, it's important to keep your wits about you. Pay attention to where you've been taken, any intel you can gain from those who have taken you, and force yourself to stay positive. When the opportunity to escape presents itself, you need to be ready to take it. You may not get a second chance.

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