Kidnapping is a booming business all around the world. Despite what most people think, kidnapping does not just happen in war-torn lands, in Third World countries or in those slums on the wrong side of town. Kidnappers can strike anywhere, in any town, in any city or in any country.

You could be snatched off the street, out of your car, at your hotel, at an airport, and even inside your home. It will happen fast, and when it does, you likely will be wrestling with a number of emotions including terror.

Fear can be a paralyzing emotion, preventing you from reacting to the situation. Having the right mind-set is vital to your ability to avoid, survive or escape the kidnappers.

In the first 60 seconds of an attack, you must adopt a “kill or be killed” mind-set to survive and to escape. And for most law-abiding citizens, that’s more difficult than they might believe.

The problem is that most people associate their survival in these circumstances with “self-defense.” Self-defense is a commercially marketable term. It sounds so morally acceptable.

But to fight off the unthinkable, they will need to trade the civilized self-defense mind-set for the raw, ruthlessness of a trapped animal.

Remember, fear can paralyze you and prevent you from reacting. Fear of pain. Fear of never seeing your family again. Fear that if you fight back, you will be injured or killed.

The reality is you must turn your fears into your greatest strength. You must channel your fears beyond righteous anger into simon-pure, homicidal hate. Then you must use those emotions to fuel a savage counterattack on your kidnappers.

However, exercising a survival mentality does require some specific training. And the execution of such tactics and techniques must fit the circumstances. You must consider your options as the attack unfolds, and hopefully you will have planned and prepared in advance for the same.

Training is the key to survival, especially in a situation where your life depends upon your escaping. The fact is, if you don’t have any training, then you greatly reduce your chances of survival.

If you can’t summon a “kill or be killed”mind-set, if you haven’t learned the proper combat techniques, and if you haven’t practiced these techniques until they are second nature, then it would be best to comply with the kidnappers and hope for a negotiation or possible rescue.

In a great number of kidnappings, your best chance of survival will be to comply and cooperate — especially if you’re outnumbered or your attackers have weapons. And once you’ve been captured, you should be patient because hostage negotiations are usually difficult and lengthy.

If time doesn’t bring about a successful resolution or you get that “gut”feeling that your captors are not going to release you or worse, they plan to kill you, then you must focus all your efforts on escaping.

Of Course, The Best Option Is to Do Everything You Can to Prevent the Kidnapping Before It Happens …

  • Become a hard target.

  • Identify potential threats.

  • Understand travel vulnerabilities. Wherever you go, you need to understand the dress, customs, politics, and potential threats.

  • Avoid choke points. Whether you’re in a vehicle or on foot, you never want to trap yourself. Always try to have a way out — even if it’s shall we say “unconventional.”

  • Analyze your routes so you can identify the likely places where you might be abducted.

  • Learn the principles of surveillance detectionsecurity social engineering

  • Maintain situational awareness at all times

  • Train and rehearse offensive and defensive tactics

Here are some critical things you can do to prevent a kidnapping:

Pre-plan Your Activities

This is the same advice I give my clients. Pre-planning your activities before departing — whether for vacation, business or just around town — is smart and leaves less to chance.

Plan your routes to avoid areas with a reputation for crime. Avoid routes where the traffic is too heavy, which can leave you blocked in, or too light, which can leave you all alone like a sitting duck.

When at home, always plan to vary your routes to places you go routinely, like work, school, and the grocery store.

When going on vacation or business travel, choose a hotel that is reputable. This doesn’t mean checking into a Marriott or a Hilton. Such higher-profile establishments may have higher safety standards. However, they are also more likely to be targeted by kidnappers because of the tony clientele they attract. Balance your personal security with comfort when choosing a place to stay. And do your due diligence in advance by asking those in the know!

Pre-Position Key Survival and Escape Elements

Another very critical piece of advice I give my clients is to carry key items that could aid in either their escape or survival. These items should be spread out in various hiding places on your body.

With the right technique, you can use a length of paracord to saw through rope or plastic zip-ties. And if you need a garrote, either paracord or dental floss will do.

You can use paper clips or bobby pins to pick handcuffs of padlocks. You can use metal combs as weapons or tools. You can use a mirror to signal for help or break it into makeshift blades. If you use your imagination, I’m sure you can think of other MacGyver-style tools or weapons.

Plan for a Worst-Case Scenario

Nobody wants to think of bad things happening to them, family members or employees. But the reality is that kidnapping is a huge, multi-national business that is growing every day.

In order for you to be effective in your efforts to prevent or escape from this very dangerous crime, you must plan for the worst. And in your planning, you need to educate yourself on the various aspects of kidnappings that are perpetrated here in the United States and abroad.

In years past, we used to see a lot of kidnap-for-ransom and extortion-type cases and although there is still plenty of that worldwide, there is a definitive paradigm shift in recent years towards a variety of kidnap typologies including kidnap-2-kill.

Be Invisible

Another very important piece of advice I give my clients is to “be invisible,” meaning blend in to whatever environment you are in. You never want to stick out.

For example, I would not wear normal business attire appropriate for a meeting in New York City when I have a meeting in Belize. That means no designer clothes or flashy watches or jewelry items. Even when you arrive at the airport, your pre-departure dress should already be consistent with your arrival destination.

Starting now, make yourself a harder target by following these precautions to help prevent or survive a kidnapping. And remember that “failing to plan is planning to fail.”

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