What you can do about kidnapping?

A woman blind folded and held hostage

This is a continuation of the first article "Can anything be done about kidnappings?" where we discussed why kidnappings is becoming a major threat to society.

But in this article we will dwell on the victims and their families.

A kidnapping causes emotional turmoil to family members. Minute by minute and hour by hour, they are tossed between hope and despair as they struggle with sentiments of guilt, hate, and helplessness.

The nightmare may go on for days, weeks, months or, sometimes, even years.

In their relentless quest for money, kidnappers capitalize on family feelings.

A kidnapping band forced their victim to write the following in an open letter to the press:

I ask the Press to publish this everywhere so that if I do not come back the fault will be with my kidnappers but also with my family who prove they prefer money to me.”

Italian kidnappers have applied pressure for ransom money by cutting off body parts and sending them to relatives or TV stations.

A Mexican kidnapper even tortured his victims while negotiating over the phone with their family.

Some kidnappers, on the other hand, attempt to curry favor with their victims.

For example, in the Philippines a kidnapped businessman was kept in a luxurious hotel in Manila, where his captors gave him liquor and entertained him with prostitutes until the ransom was paid.

Most victims, however, are locked up with little concern shown for their physical or hygienic needs.

Many are brutally mistreated. In any case, the victim must always suffer the horror of wondering what is going to happen to him.

Motives not always the same. So first step for victims and families is to understand the motive of the kidnapping. This will giving you family insight on how best to resolve the issue.

Understanding the motive

Most kidnappers want money and nothing but money.

Ransom demands vary from just a handful of dollars to the record of millions of dollars ransom paid for a Hong Kong property tycoon who was never released in spite of the payment.

On the other hand, some kidnappers have used their victims to bargain for publicity, food, medicine, radios, and cars as well as new schools, roads, and hospitals.

One executive kidnapped in Asia was released after the kidnappers were given basketball uniforms and basketballs.

Certain groups also use kidnappings to scare and intimidate foreign investors and tourists, with the aim of halting the exploitation of land and natural resources.

So there is no shortage of motives, no shortage of means, no shortage of potential kidnappers or victims.

After getting some understanding of what has happened and why, what can you do if your are held hostage by you kidnappers?

What can you do when held captive?

Those who have studied the subject offer the following suggestions to people who may be kidnapped:

According Surety International that has extensive experience in crisis management responses to kidnap offers this suggestions:

Be cooperative; avoid obstinate behavior. Antagonistic hostages are more often subjected to harsh treatment, and they run a greater risk of being killed or singled out for punishment. Do not panic. Keep in mind that most victims survive the kidnapping. Devise a system to keep track of time. Try to establish some sort of daily routine. Exercise, even though your opportunities to move may be limited.Be observant; try to memorize details, sounds, and smells. Learn details about your kidnappers. Engage in small talk if possible and try to establish contact. If the kidnappers see you as an individual, they will be less likely to harm or kill you. Make them aware of your needs in a polite manner. Never try to negotiate your own ransom. If you find yourself in the middle of a rescue attempt, drop to the floor and wait passively as events unfold."

Should you have a Kidnap Insurance?

A boom industry connected with the increase in kidnappings is insurance. More and more companies are offering such insurance.

The insurance covers the assistance of a kidnap negotiator, payment of a ransom, and sometimes professional efforts to get the ransom back. However, the insurance issue is very controversial.

Opposers to kidnap insurance claim that it commercializes the crime and that it is immoral to make money off kidnapping.

They also say that an insured person might be careless about his own security and that the insurance will facilitate the kidnappers’ task of extorting money, thus encouraging this criminal activity.

Some even fear that the availability of insurance will encourage people to arrange their own kidnapping to get the insurance money. Kidnap insurance is outlawed in some countries.

Supporters of kidnap insurance point out that like any other insurance, it makes many pay for the losses of a few.

They reason that insurance creates a measure of security, since it enables insured families and companies to afford the help of qualified professionals, who can ease tension, negotiate lower ransoms, and make it easier to catch the kidnappers.

Coping With the Trauma

Even after victims are released, they may have lingering emotional scars. A Swedish nurse who was kidnapped in Somalia expressed this opinion:

One thing is more important than anything else. You have to talk to friends and relatives and get professional help if you need it.”

Therapists have developed a method to help such victims.

 In several short sessions, the victims analyze their experiences with professinal assistance before meeting with their families and getting back to a normal life.

 “Therapy given shortly after the event reduces the risk of permanent damage,” says Rigmor Gillberg, a Red Cross crisis therapy expert.


Victims and their families are not the only ones touched by kidnappings.

Fear of kidnapping can halt tourism and slow down investments; it also creates a sense of insecurity in society.

So all people in the society have to do the best to cooperate to minimize this vice whether they are victims or not.