Many twenty-somethings plan big adventures as they complete college, and prepare to enter the work force. I know I was certainly not an exception to this and still find myself seeking big adventures. The problem is that many free spirits decide to go on these adventures without seeking out any travel awareness training. Two twenty-three year old women, one from Brazil and one from Germany, decided to backpack around Australia in February of 2016 and ended up fighting for their lives. While their story is an example of how hitchhiking is a terrible idea, these two young women are examples to all of us in not giving up on the worst day of your life.
The day started well for both travelers until they were picked up by their ride. Our intrepid travelers sought out a ride on Gum Tree, an Australian website akin to Craigslist, a few days earlier. The travelers’ primary ride was unable to take them so they went with an alternate ride. The two did not have any information on the man other than a name, and had not done any research. It turned out that the man was not only a convicted sex offender, but also a serial killer. The travelers reported that when they got in the vehicle with the man, they thought his behavior was really odd and they felt uncomfortable. We teach our anti kidnapping and hostage survival students to listen to their inner voice. If something doesn’t seem right, it likely isn’t. Our friends decided to blow off the discomfort and just chalk this up to the driver being a strange or weird man.
The driver took his victims to their campsite at Salt Creek and stayed with them while they set up their camp, despite his being forty years their senior. One of the girls decided to take a nap while the other girl enjoyed a glass of wine with the driver. Things went downhill from there as a brutal sexual assault began on the separated girl. That is where the will to fight and quick thinking began. She convinced the attacker that his assault would be more pleasurable for him if she untied her hands and went to the tents. The driver untied her hands and agreed to go back to the tents. As the driver and first young girl arrived near the tents, the fight began which included a scream to wake her traveling companion. Soon both girls were fighting the perpetrator with everything they had. We refer to this type of will to survive as harnessing your inner “Rapid Chipmunk” in our book, 365 Days of Survival. The story unfolded with both girls fighting for their lives, refusing to give up, and facing everything from being hit with a hammer to a wild ride on top of a Land Rover.
This story is incredible for several reasons. First, both girls were able to overcome their sympathetic nervous system. Humans are wired with three primary responses: 1. Fight 2. Run 3. Freeze. It is very common for untrained people faced with similar situations to freeze. The second incredibly fascinating part of this story is the resourcefulness of both girls. As the assault unfolded, one traveler used her brain to ensure that she could wake her friend and increase both their chances of survival. She then picked the time and place to launch her Rabid Chipmunk assault on her attacker. The girls both looked for opportunities to draw attention of third parties who came to the rescue. In the end, both girls survived and the perpetrator is now serving life in prison.
Have you trained to over-ride your sympathetic nervous system? Could you fight back if you were faced with a similar problem? Have you taken a travel safety course or an anti kidnapping and hostage survival course? We want to encourage all of our fellow travelers to pursue training that will improve your chances to fight or run instead of freeze. We want to encourage you to learn to trust your gut when you feel that something is not right, and to not be afraid to speak up. We at Captive Audience PTRT do not want others to live in fear, or to stop doing what you love. We want you to be informed, make solid decisions, and become a hard target. Train hard and travel safely, my friends.
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