As a security and safety expert, I often lecture about all the facets of a kidnapping. There are three basic stages or phases of the kidnapping experience.
Kidnappers premeditate and precalculate every move. Months of planning could go into an abduction that takes only seconds. The circumstances have to be perfect, like a solitary female at night in a barren area. The kidnapper has honed his charm skills and knows who will fall for his sob story to gain his trust.
On the other hand, some kidnappers don’t use charm or a ploy; they pounce out of the blue and take the victim by force.
At this point in a kidnapping, the charm or force is dropped because the victim is in the kidnapper’s domain. The victim is made to feel powerless.
But don’t forget that the kidnapper knows ahead of time who’s most likely to psychologically succumb to a feeling of hopelessness. Kidnappers often have excellent radar for feeling out perfect victims. Even then, the kidnapper will often torture the victim to further fragment them, including using elaborate restraints. The victim learns to be helpless.
The de-powered victim may still try to escape, but feebly: a tap on a window rather than hurling a chair at it. The fear of punishment for a more aggressive escape attempt becomes greater than the will to escape. The victim’s mind morphs to adapt to the harrowing situation, sometimes to the extent of sympathizing with the kidnapper (Stockholm syndrome).
The victim may have many chances to escape, but fail to even flinch when the opportunity arises, such as the case of Shawn Hornbeck, who, during “captivity” for several years by the man who repeatedly raped him, was permitted to ride a bike throughout the neighborhood. We hear about extraordinary cases such as these, but cases in which the victim escapes (sometimes using aggression) after only two hours of captivity don’t get as much attention.
The three phases of a kidnapping do have subphases, but those presented above are the main elements.
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