How not to become a kidnapping victim

Abduction or kidnapping is the action of forcibly taking someone away against their will. Kidnappers may have various motives for their actions and may be driven by greed, perversion or psychological reasons. Kidnappers always control the Time, Place and Method of Attack. They decide when, where and how the attack will happen. Essentially the attacker thus has the element of surprise on their side. The victim does not have the luxury of knowing that the attack is about to happen but the victim can become a harder target by a strategy called the AAA Principle:

Any conflict has three phases or stages: Awareness, Alarm, and Action.

a) Awareness

During the Awareness phase, you stay constantly alert as to where you are, what you are doing, and what is going on around you. You should be in this stage all the time, in an effort to prevent an attack from occurring. But your awareness also allows you to realize as early as possible that an attack is indeed imminent,  hopefully before the situation gets completely out of control.

Signs you are in the Awareness phase:

  • Where are am I?
  • Who is around me?
  • Noting environmental conditions
  • Maintaining personal security level
  • Looking for suspicious circumstances
  • Listening to your gut feeling


b) Alarm

Once you become aware that something just is not right, you enter the Alarm phase. Even if you do not know yet exactly what is wrong or whether there is really anything wrong at all, you enter a state of heightened awareness. This is your body’s way of preparing to deal with a crisis. This is also a good time to shift course, and hopefully avoid the potential conflict.

Signs you are in the Alarm phase:

  • Feeling that something is not right
  • Recognizing a potential threat
  • Thinking accelerates
  • Auditory & visual exclusion (tunnel vision) occurs
  • Decision-making ability is impaired
  • Shortness of breath
  • Adrenaline rush (fight or flight)


c) Action

Now there is no longer any doubt, like it or not, you are under attack. Whether it is a verbal, mental or physical altercation, you have to take action. Your wellbeing is at stake,  maybe even your life. Whether or not you are prepared to respond appropriately and effectively will determine the outcome of this situation.

Possible responses to the Action phase:

  • Physically remove from situation
  • Defend
  • Panic/paralysis (fear/giving up)
  • Attack
  • Counterattack (instinctual)


Once you have entered into any of these three phases of self-defense, your mind and body are warning you that you are now escalating into a possible criminal act or crisis situation. By recognizing a potentially harmful situation in the Awareness or Alarm stage, you can likely avoid the Action stage. Remember, this is your body’s natural defense system, so listen to it.

To reduce your risk of being abducted, we have listed some commonsense steps below:

Parking lots:

  • Always park in well-lighted areas, if you plan to arrive/leave after dark
  • Don’t park in isolated or visually obstructed areas near walls or heavy foliage
  • Use valet parking or an attended garage, if you’re a woman driving alone
  • As you walk to your car be alert to suspicious persons sitting in cars
  •  Ask for a security escort if you are alone at a shopping center
  • As you approach your vehicle, look under, around, and inside your car
  • If safe, open the door, enter quickly, and lock the doors
  • Don’t be a target by turning your back while loading packages into the car
  • Make it your habit to always start your car and drive away immediately
  • Teach and practice with your children to enter and exit the car quickly


On the Road:

  • Maintain consistent situational awareness. Frequently check your rearview and side mirrors to see if you are being followed.
  • In the city, always drive with your car doors locked and windows rolled up
  • When stopped in traffic, leave room ahead to maneuver and escape, if necessary
  • If you are bumped in traffic, by young males, be suspicious of the accident
  • Be especially vigilant at busy intersections, stop signs or traffic lights where you are forced to stop.
  •  Beware of the Good Samaritan who offers to repair your car or a flat tyre. It’s okay to get help, just be alert


At home:

  • When approaching your home be especially vigilant. Do not park in front of your motorized gate while waiting for it to open. Press the remote as you approach the driveway and do not turn into the driveway until the gate is open. This will allow you to drive off if approached by a suspicious vehicle or person.
  • When leaving your home do not park in front of the gate and wait for the gate to close. Drive into the road and wait for the gate to close to allow you the opportunity to escape if necessary.
  • Trim away any vegetation at gates or areas where you have to disembark/get into your vehicle to eliminate hiding space for attackers.
  • Ensure that any area where you have to get into or out of your vehicle is properly illuminated at night to assist you to detect persons who may be waiting to ambush you.


When faced by an abductor/kidnapper

  • Refuse to become a victim. Fight with everything you have.
  • Scream to draw attention. Do not scream “Help” as nobody will come and help you and it also puts you at a psychological disadvantage that you are a victim. Rather scream something like “Back Off!” which is more likely to draw attention and which may also serve to intimidate the attacker.
  • Attack vital areas such as they eyes, groin, knees or spine which is more likely to disable the attacker and prevent the attack from continuing. Eye gouging, biting and using improvised weapons are all potentially lifesaving defenses.
  • Do what you can to prevent being forced into a vehicle.
  • Use techniques like the illustrations below to prevent being forced into a vehicle:


Window anchor to prevent door from closing


Window wedge anchor


  • If you cannot prevent being forced into a vehicle, attempt to force the vehicle into a controlled crash by hooking onto the steering wheel and pulling to one side. If the vehicle crashes, it cannot leave the scene and it also draws attention which is what the kidnapper/abductor does not want.


Steering wheel anchor to force a controlled crash


  • When forced into the trunk of a vehicle always resist as long as possible to prevent the trunk door from being closed. If resistance becomes impossible and you are forced in, look for improvised weapons such as wheel spanners, battery charging cables, screw drivers etc. which is commonly lying in vehicles and wait for the deal opportunity to use it as improvised weapons.
  • Whenever possible Escape. Always run away from the abduction vehicle in such a manner that you remain in the blind spot of the driver. Run over side curbs or jump over fences to make it more difficult for the vehicle to follow you.

Prevention is always the best defense against any attack. It is essential to prepare yourself not to become a victim in the first place and if it cannot be avoided how to realistically and effectively protect yourself. At C.O.B.R.A, we teach men, women, children, groups and corporations both small and large how to realistically protect themselves in today’s world. Our global brand was created from law enforcement training and field experience and anyone can learn it no matter what their experience level. For more information contact or visit our website: