Kidnappers, traffickers, slave owners, and captors of all kinds, use the shock of capture to quickly gain control of the people they hold. Captivity by itself is an extremely draining and emotional experience for the captive. The loss of freedom and control over oneself alone can be incredibly taxing. The methods that captors employ to gain immediate and unquestioned compliance, can be the most devastating and damaging part of captivity.
The shock of capture is caused by the quick, violent, and brutal methods used to capture another human being. Imagine driving down the street in Central Africa, while working as a humanitarian aid worker. It is unlikely that you received training on how to avoid being targeted, or what to do if you find yourself being kidnapped. Imagine yourself doing this service with what you know about the world right now. Ok here we go. You have been driving down the same street, at the same time, in the same vehicle every day for over a month. This time there seems to be an absence of people on the street, and things seem out of place. You feel a lump in your throat, and your heart rate is elevated but you cannot figure out why. Suddenly a car full of armed men speed past you and pull in front of you slamming on their brakes forcing you to brake and run into them. A car comes up from behind you and rams your vehicle from behind. The armed men rapidly exit the vehicle, pulling your driver out and beating him in front of you. At the same time the armed men smash your window yank open the door, pull you by the hair, and force you into their vehicle. Before you can process the event, you are in the back seat of the kidnapper’s vehicle. Someone is screaming at you and asking you questions about your phone and family in rapid succession. Every time you fail to answer, you are punched, slapped, or similarly brutalized.
The scenario I just described is one of many tactics used by kidnappers worldwide to capture and gain control of their prey. The initial contact, violence, and abuse may last for several days. It may consist of violence, isolation, sexual assault, emotional abuse, and generally a combination of all of these. It is not uncommon for victims to be beaten, interrogated, raped, and berated within the first twenty four hours of captivity. The captors use this methodology to force their prey into learned helplessness. The captors know that the faster they can break you, the sooner they can focus on the next victim. If you are unprepared for the shock of capture and the methods being employed against you, the shock could cause your captivity to cascade into deep depression, and a loss of the will to live. The long term effects of the shock of capture may take years to resolve, if they are resolved at all. The suicide rate among victims is extremely high, and the complexities of captivity are often more than conventional psychologists are prepared to handle.
There are some things that might lessen the effects of captivity. I am about to offer the best and most sound advice I can. Perhaps the best thing you can do if you are an aid worker, missionary, journalist, or traveler is take Anti Kidnapping and Hostage Survival training. The first and most important thing taught in this training is to how to avoid becoming a target in the first place. The second important thing taught is what to do when you get the lump in your throat and you feel like something isn’t right. The third thing you learn is how to defeat the amygdala driven “fight, flight, or freeze”, response driven by your sympathetic nervous system. The training then trains you how to keep your wits about you, be resourceful, and survive. At Captive Audience we believe the best way to deal with the scourge of human slavery and exploitation is to first prevent it. As a soldier I gained a healthy respect for my enemies when I went through SERE training. SERE did not ruin my desire to help others. It helped me to do so with trained skill, experience, and useable information.
The shock of capture does not have to defeat you, but now is the time to train out your harmful instincts and replace them with reasoned response. Respond, don’t react. Prepare your battle space in advance.