Surviving a Hostage Situation Jul 01,2017

Event Duration Dimensions ( 3 Hours )

Basic Hostage Survival


Initial Response

The chances of being taken hostage are remote and hostage survival rates are high. Make no mistake though, any hostage situation can turn deadly and whether or not you survive depends largely on you.  Your personal conduct can influence treatment in captivity.  In the U.S. most large police departments have hostage negotiators who will work with the hostage takers to get you free.  The State Department is responsible for US government personnel and dependents overseas.  In a hostage situation, the State Department will follow plans designed to gain release of hostages.

General Considerations:

►Try to remain on the best terms with the captors possible, but be cognizant of the Stockholm Syndrome.  This is the feeling of trust or affection felt in certain cases of hostage taking by a victim toward a captor.

►Do not draw attention to yourself with sudden movements, verbal remarks, or hostile looks.

►Prepare yourself for possible verbal and physical abuse, and lack of food, drink, and sanitary conditions.

►Discretely observe your captors and memorize their physical descriptions. Include voice patterns and language distinctions, as well as clothing and unique physical characteristics.

►Try to prepare yourself for the situation and stay mentally active.


Maintain Self-Control:


►The moment of attack is the point of maximum danger since your captors are most likely to panic or use excessive force.

►Recognize the moment when resistance is futile.  Your instinct may be to struggle, but you should stop when faced with deadly force.

►Regain your composure and recognize your fear.  Your captors are probably as apprehensive as you are, so your actions are important.  Take mental notes of directions, times of transit, noises, and other factors to identify your location.

►Anticipate isolation and efforts to disorient and confuse you.

►If you attempt an escape, plan your escape for times that maximize your chance of success.


Dealing With Your Captors:


Remember always try to put your captors at ease.  Be calm and cooperate as best you can and follow these steps:


►Do not aggravate them.

►Do not get into political or ideological discussions.  Listen, but don't debate.

►Try to limit conversation to topics like sports, family, clothing.

►Comply with instructions, but always maintain your dignity.

►Attempt to develop a positive relationship with them.  Try to be seen as an empathetic person, not a symbol of their hatreds.

►Ask for small favors.

►Be proud of your heritage, government, and military association, but use discretion and don't be offensive.


While in Captivity:


►Exercise daily.

►Read anything and everything.

►Eat what is offered to you.  You must maintain your strength.

►Establish a slow, methodical routine for every task.

►Be observant.  Right from the start you should be making mental notes to remember as much as possible to help plan an escape, predict your abductors next move, or give information to police.

►Try to escape only if the time is right.  It is recommended that you wait to be freed, but sometimes the perfect situation presents itself and you should take advantage of the opportunity. 


Being Interrogated:


►If you need to make up a story to protect sensitive information, make it a simple, believable story you will be able to remember and stick to it.

►Be polite and keep your temper.  Try to ascertain why you have been abducted.

►Give short answers.  Talk freely about nonessential matters, but be guarded when conversations turn to matters of substance.

►Do not be lulled by a friendly approach.  One terrorist may play "Good Guy" and one "Bad Guy."

►Briefly affirm your belief in basic democratic principles.

►If forced to present terrorist demands to authorities, in writing or on tape, state clearly that the demands are from your captors.


During Rescue:


►Drop to the floor and be still.  Avoid sudden moves.  Wait for instruction.

►Once released, avoid derogatory comments about your captors; such remarks will only make things harder for those still held captive.

►You may be restrained as well until your rescuers determine who are hostages and who are the kidnappers.

►Remain calm.  This will help put the rescuers at ease.


Preparing the Family:


►Have family affairs in order; a current will, powers of attorney, and family financial plans.

►Discuss with family members children's education, family relocation, and disposition of property.

►Practice good OPSEC tell you family not to discuss details as this may put you, or them, in great danger.

►Assure them the government will work to obtain your safe release.

►Tell them negotiations can take a long time.  Your chances of survival actually increase with time.

►Tell your family to cooperate with authorities and to remain optimistic when dealing with the press.

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