Abduction - You Gain Control

(Paraphrased from a short article by Sanford Strong, security advisor to the America's Most Wanted television show. The full article plus other interesting case files can be found at www.amw.com).


Walking aloneRapes - except for acquaintance rapes - and murders generally occur in isolated areas, deserted streets and dark alleys, not in broad daylight. This is because the perpetrators of such crimes need time and seclusion to carry out their crimes.

An abduction has two crime scenes. The first is a public place (crime scene #1) where the attacker attempts to grab his victim. The second is a more secluded area (crime scene #2) where the actual rape, torture or murder occurs.

At crime scene #1, the attacker is under pressure, faces the greatest risk of apprehension and has the least control over his victim. At crime scene #2, the pressure and risk are greatly lessened, the attacker has the time to do what he wants and he has total control of his victim.

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Thieves rarely move their victims to a second crime scene, but rapists and murders generally do. This may be accomplished by dragging the victim off the street into some bushes or, as in the recent attempted abduction here at Queen's, by getting the victim into a car (either their own vehicle or one provided by the attacker) and driving them to a preplanned location. In the Bernardo case, young girls were approached in broad daylight and enticed into approaching his car. They were then grabbed, dragged into the car and taken to his house. The only chance these unsuspecting young women could have had would have been to scream loud and long and try to break Bernardo's hold before they were dragged into the car. At the very least, someone may have heard the screams and jotted down the license plate number. Once at his house, their chances of survival were zero. 

Your greatest chance to save your life in an abduction situation is in the first few seconds after the attacker
 grabs you, when he has the least control, and certainly before he can get you into a vehicle. Kick, scream, yell; do anything you can to draw attention to yourself and get away from the attacker. Most would-be rapists or murderers do not want attention drawn to them. Do anything you can to avoid getting into that vehicle because, once you do, your chances of living are drastically reduced.

If you are forced into a vehicle, or an attacker enters your vehicle, do what you can to crash the vehicle. The risks to you in a car crash are much less than the risks once the attacker gets you to an isolated spot. If he is driving, don't waste time trying to grab the steering wheel. Use your rage to save your life and gouge his eyes or even jump out of the vehicle if you can.  If the attacker has a gun or other weapon, you may feel too intimidated to resist. However, if you consider what an attacker who is willing to shoot you in public might do to you in private, you should be able to find the rage and motivation to resist before he gets you alone and under his control.


In a 1998 incident on campus, the woman who was attacked did exactly the right thing; she seized a split second opportunity by running and screaming as loud as she could, scaring off the attacker. This woman is not a victim of a crime, she is a survivor.

Page last update: February 10, 2000

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