Kidnapped: Five Lessons on How to Handle a Loved One’s Abduction

On a quiet Sunday night, I was getting ready to go to bed when I got the call that my dad had been abducted. That was the beginning of a torturous week of waiting and desperate pleas to authorities to facilitate his release. Everything else stood still. Nothing was more important than negotiating for his safe release.

I learned a few things from the frenzy of activities that ensued. Things I didn’t think about until I actually experienced the horror of being the family member to a kidnap victim. It’s not something that anybody wishes for but since it happened to us, there are several lessons that I want to share here.

Hysteria and theatrics won’t solve anything: my initial reaction was panic. I screamed. I cursed. I kept prodding my mom, asking banal questions that she couldn’t possibly have answers to. It wasn’t until she snapped at me that I realized how much pressure I was mounting on her. Our house was like a theatre during the first few days. The emotional outburst from the people around was distracting. It’s important to keep a cool head especially when you’re the next-of-kin negotiator. The kidnappers will use your desperation to make ridiculous demands. Giving in to panic can only lead you to promise more ransom than you have.

Be prepared to pay a ransom: Unfortunately, kidnap for ransom has become a profitable business for the morally decrepit. One that yields high returns with little to no initial capital investment. I used to argue against the idea of paying ransom to kidnappers. I felt it only emboldens them and encourages more people to take up the act. But such an obscure thought didn’t even cross my mind. Until you wear the shoes and feel the pain, you will never know how to react. So, be prepared to pay a ransom. The kidnappers don’t care for sob stories. They don’t want to know where you’re getting the money from as long as you get it.  They are desperate to conclude the “transaction” so they can move on to the next victim.

Be careful what you say and to whom: people will call and visit to sympathize. Naturally, they’ll also ask a lot of questions. But you don’t know who is a friend or foe. In some kidnap for ransom cases, someone close to the family is usually the one passing information to the abductors. Sift the information you give to people. Keep the sensitive bit private. Like what steps the security operatives are taking and how much money you can afford to pay as ransom.

Don’t listen to hearsay: There will be people trying to use your anxiety to their advantage. Some will call claiming to have the ability to intervene on your behalf if only you can give them money to enable them “act.” We had people making absurd demands. They asked for money for prayers and anointing oil. Some others wanted money to “consult” a powerful herbalist who could reveal where my dad was held. I heard the most ridiculous things. Filter out the noise and focus on the task at hand – the release of your loved one. Listening to speculations will only compound your worries.

Stay positive but prepare for the worst: you’re not dealing with sane individuals. These are hardened men with no scruples about harming a fellow human being. What’s the worst that could happen? A while ago, I had an insightful conversation with someone who told me about a simple strategy to deal with my anxiety attacks. She said that whenever I’m worried or faced with a difficult situation that is out of my control, I should think of the worst that could happen if things don’t go as I plan. It is very difficult to think of the abduction of your loved one in a worst-case scenario. But it’s vital to be prepared for whatever happens. You have limited control.

That’s it.

The incident is behind us now. It’s been over three weeks but it’s something that I’ll not forget in a hurry. 
8 comments on "Kidnapped: Five Lessons on How to Handle a Loved One’s Abduction"
  1. Terrible Terrible Experience, I don't even know how to begin to rationalise it.

  2. The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life.
    And that's the promise of God's protection. Thank God its over

  3. Wow insightful post!! you are getting the hang of this blogging oh!! Niceeee :)

    1. Thanks Dabs. I'm learning a lot. Thanks for your help too

  4. Oh and didnt know your Dad was kidnapped oh!! Thank God for His release!!

  5. Oh! SEG, this must have been traumatic. Thank God for his safe release.

    I agree with you, I have 2 coping mechanisms when dealing with anxiety, I either Expect the worst or "Become an Ostrich" by burying my head in the sand and becoming aloof to the situation.

    I sincerely appreciate the openness of this post :-)

    1. Thank you nedoux. It was a horrific experience. We've waded past all that now... I appreciate your presence here on my blog. I've been snooping around yours. Enjoying myself immensely.


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