Survival Options:
Kidnapping Survival & Escape

Survival options for kidnapping victims to escape.

Meeting Melissa at a party, Jason offered her a ride home. But as soon as they left, Jason’s sparkling personality became cold as he ignored her directions to her home. Heading instead toward the secluded outskirts of town, the ride home became an abduction. Melissa yelled at him to turn around yet he ignored her.

Which of the survival options should she choose?

• Wait and see what happens – and hope for the best.
• Reason with him, if at all possible.
• Outsmart him – using Outsmarting strategies.
• Invite him to “a more comfortable place” – one that provides an escape.
• Initiate violent action – preemptive self-defense – before she’s taken to a secluded place.

What preemptive survival self-defense is possible? Attacking him while he's driving in order to crash the car is the best way to crash his plans as well.

While the car is moving very slowly, cause it to crash into almost anything, such as bushes, trees, curbs, an empty parked car or a ditch, while also trying, as best she can, to avoid a serious car-crash or harming innocent people. And, if not wearing a seat belt, just before the crash, trying to curl into a ball on the floor to minimize her injuries. Timing her actions to be most effective, such as when safe havens or police are nearby, she can:

1. Turn off the ignition key to kill the engine at a crucial time – causing the car to “lock up” (suddenly slowing down with the power steering virtually "freezing").
2. Grab the steering wheel at a crucial time (such as when he’s slowly turning a corner).
3. If possible, step on his foot while it’s on the accelerator (at a crucial time).
4. Attack his eyes – as in the Clinch-Attack in Fighting Strategies.
5. Brace her back against the door and attack Jason with the Defensive Ground Kicks in Fighting Strategies. He won’t be able to drive while absorbing a rapid-fire barrage of such powerful kicks.


Returning to her car in a strip-mall parking lot, a New Jersey schoolteacher was confronted by a teenage boy with his hand in a jacket pocket and claiming to have a gun aimed at her. He demanded she drive him to a secluded area. He then ordered her to bind herself and even helped her do so. As he later confessed to police, all he had originally planned was to steal her car but he then decided to eliminate the only witness and strangled her to death.

Since hindsight is 20/20, a review of these events provides some possible survival alternatives to merely obeying a criminal. The victim of a carjacking/kidnapping could:

1. Give the car keys to the boy but refuse to enter the car. Or drop the keys and run.

2. Outsmart him. Tell him that friends are about to join her or that the police are nearby looking for a boy seen hanging around – such as, "Oh, you're the one the cops are looking for! Then drop the keys and run.

3. Fake a heart attack or faint. Drop in a limp heap. A limp body is very difficult to drag and lift into a car. In the unlikely event the boy were to attempt it, she could explode into a surprise attack when the boy is vulnerable (see Sucker Punch).

4. Attack the boy while his “gun-hand” is trapped in his pocket (but not pointing at her). Does he truly have a gun? She should assume he does unless it becomes obvious that he’s bluffing. (The police found out later that he had been bluffing by keeping his empty hand in his pocket all the while because he had no gun.)

5. If she does enter the car and is forced to drive, she can: disable the car as described above; drive erratically to attract the police; drive over curbs; or mow down shrubbery. The boy fears attention – so crash the car!

6. If she is the front-seat passenger, choose one of Melissa’s options above.

7. If she is a back seat passenger, she may still be able to attack the driver by attacking his eyes or throat from behind at a critical time. At a very slow speed, cause the car to crash!

8. A worse place to be is in the car’s trunk. Some newer cars have glow-in-the-dark emergency release latches in the trunk: wait until stopped in traffic, then pull the latch and jump out. Also, the back seats of many newer cars fold down to allow large items, so if the kidnapper leaves the car, push on the rear of the back seats to see if they open. If pushing fails, feel around for knobs or levers to unlatch the folding seat-backs, then crawl into the passenger compartment and escape. Or try to find something in the trunk that can be used as a weapon to attack the kidnapper when he finally opens the trunk. Also see Child Safety Tips: Kidnapping Escape for "How to Escape from a Locked Trunk" (about halfway down the page) and many other lessons that apply to adults as well.

Further hindsight: The police found a tape recorder in her pocket with the entire crime recorded and learned that:

• As a high-school teacher, she'd assumed she could reason with a teenager. She didn’t realize that a criminal in mid-crime is likely not reasonable.

• In the car and at the secluded area, the boy still kept his “gun” hidden unnecessarily in his pocket. She could have known at that point that he was bluffing and had no gun, yet she continued to obey him. Had only she known what you're reading right now.

See How He Reaches For A Weapon at Spotting Danger.

A gunman kicked down Bridget Kelly's apartment door and forced her to drive to an ATM for money, then to a lonely spot near Killeen TX where he raped and shot her, then left her for dead.

Once again, since hindsight is 20/20, let’s look at possible alternatives to merely obeying a criminal: Why did Kelly's attacker take her to a lonely spot to shoot her? He wanted seclusion – no witnesses. As in the abductions described above, Kelly would have been better off had she crashed the car – as safely as possible – when she was forced to drive to the ATM. See Escaping Carjacking.

And, had Kelly’s door been stronger, she never would have been abducted in the first place! To prevent your door from being kicked in, see Security Products - Door.

The above victims simply weren’t prepared. But now you are.


An attempted kidnapping leaves you with two basic choices – with no guarantee either way: Risk escalating the violence right away by fighting or fleeing and better survival odds, versus cooperating with a (deceitful) kidnapper and worse survival odds. Trust your Intuition to guide you.


Deter a predator by carrying Personal Security Alarm (screamer or noisemaker) & Pepper Spray in plain sight. Those pages tell you how to use them most effectively.

Crime-Safety-Security > Survival Options Overview > Kidnap Survival & Escape

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