Last night I stumbled upon an article called “How to Survive Being Kidnapped.” The article was an interview of Ben Lopez, a man who travels the world negotiating the release of kidnapping victims (and who also has a book for sale on Amazon). I wasn’t looking for an article of this type, but it came up in one of my Google searches, because of the topic of kidnapping, and the name “Ben.”
As a recent survivor of a kidnapping, I found the article quite fascinating. My son Ben and I were not at all prepared for the events we were caught up in – it wasn’t something that we’d seen as a likely concern, as kidnappings have not been common at all in our part of Honduras, plus we’d have considered our family an unlikely target, because we don’t have enough money for such a crime to be worthwhile. So it amazed me to find that much of what the expert advised kidnapping victims to do, in order to survive a kidnapping, were things that Ben and I had, unknowingly, done while kidnapped!
If you’ve read the story of our kidnapping, you’ll see what I mean, as you read the quote from the article below. If you haven’t read the story, you can find it here.
Stay calm. In moments of high stress, you’re being stressed is only going to make the kidnappers more difficult to deal with and dangerous.
Don’t give them an excuse to mistreat you by not co-operating. Don’t give them an excuse to mistreat you by sticking out, by being too anxious. The thing is, the more anxious you are, the more anxious you end up making people. The more anxious you make people the more angry, the more dangerous, the more difficult you make them to deal with.
Eat and drink whatever you’re given – if it’s edible or drinkable, obviously – because you don’t know when you’re going to be fed again.
Try to exercise your body and your mind if you can – it lessens stress and helps pass the time. One of the worst things about being in captivity is the boredom. Especially to people from the western world who are used to instant gratification for information, the internet, telephones, TV. The inactivity of being captive can often be the most difficult thing to deal with.
Make mental notes about your surroundings. It might come in handy later in the event of a rescue attempt.
Another important thing is to humanise yourself. Make yourself a human being to these people because it’s harder to hurt another human called Peter than it is to beat the crap out of a piece of merchandise. Use your name. Don’t necessarily give away too many details about your family but try to connect or establish a rapport with your captors.
I am amazed all over again at how God saw us through this event! Over the past few weeks, as I’ve thought back to decisions we made and actions we took (or chose not to take) while we were with the kidnapper, it has been easy to second guess everything. You can imagine how delightful it is to have at least some of those decisions validated by a kidnapping expert! It wasn’t our knowledge that brought us through this safely – Ben and I were just feeling our way along, in the midst of each highly stressed, scary moment! I feel confident we were being led to the correct decisions, at a time when we weren’t ready, knowledgeable, or emotionally capable of making the best decisions for ourselves!
Again (and again, and again), thanks so much to everyone who prayed for us!