People Who Were Kidnapped — And Survived To Tell The Tale — Are Sharing Their Pulse-Pounding Experiences

Few things are scarier than the idea of you — or one of your loved ones — being kidnapped. Over on Quora, people who have been kidnapped and lived to tell the tale are sharing their stories...and they're frighteningly pulse-pounding.

A man lies on the ground with a gag in his mouth, appearing distressed and injured, from what seems to be a dramatic scene in a film or TV show
© Bleecker Street Media / Via Courtesy Everett Collection

Check out their first-person accounts below:

Warning: this post contains mentions of physical and sexual assault. 

1."The worst part of being kidnapped? For me, it was quite a few things: His threatening to hit me with a huge branch, grabbing me and tossing me into his car, and just the whole unknown of it all. Unknown grown man, unknown car, nobody around to hear or see what was happening or hear me loudly crying. The complete helplessness that way too."

<div><p>"I was 7. I'm 31 now, and I still remember exactly what my kidnapper looks like to this day; his face pops up in dreams and nightmares sometimes. Police never caught him, so I don't get to have any solid answers.</p><p>However, I have a strong feeling and suspicion that the man was going to sell me for money into human trafficking. Something very strong came over him, though, and he suddenly changed his mind in the moments before he reached over me, opened the door, and told me to get out. I believe the universe had something to do with that, given my purpose in life."</p><p>—<a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Maddy G.;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Maddy G.</a>, Quora</p></div><span> Courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection / Everett Collection</span>

2."It happened in Delhi, India. I was new to the place, just 45 days into my first job. I had a huge bag full of clothes, and was at the bus stop, waiting for a car. A Maruti Eco van came, which looked exactly like a shared taxi, which is common in Delhi. I got in after asking if they could take me where I needed to go. Three people were in it, two in the front and one in the back. They all looked like villagers and were 20-25 years old. After a few minutes, when the van reached empty roads, one guy from the front came into the backseat, and I was between two guys. Suddenly, they started to hit me in the face, and they snatched all my stuff — bag, phone, and purse with ATM cards."

"They asked for 25,000 rupees, and I told them I'd give whatever I had if they let me go. I told them to take me to a nearby ATM and I will give them all the money that I have, but they kept on riding along empty roads. Whenever the road got crowded, they tried to hold my neck and once even bit my cheek to keep me silent and avoid attracting attention. After a while, they entered a deserted road into a wild place, and I was almost sure that they would stop there and do something worse to me, but somehow that path led to an open road. By then, I was sitting quietly because there was no point in making noise and getting beaten up. Fighting back was also out of the question when the road was empty because three people were around me.

Around half an hour after I got into the van, I could see the van reaching a market, where I saw two policemen standing near the road. Somehow I felt that it was my last chance to escape, and, in a flash, I remember pulling the van's handbrake. I kicked on the van's side window with both my feet to break it before jumping out onto the road, landing on my shoulders and head on the road.

The next thing I remember is sitting on a chair at the police station, where they asked me to write what happened. I did it and they took me to AIIMS trauma care Delhi for medical check-up. Luckily I only had minor injuries and returned home by 4 a.m. with my friend.

I was lucky they did not have any weapons with them. The van had safety glass on the side, and somehow, I could see those two policemen outside!

To my surprise, on the very next day, the police called to say the men had been caught and that they wanted me to go and identify them. I went there, saw the van, and saw that two of them were in the lock-up. All of my friends told me there was no chance of catching them, but in less than a day, the police got those guys. I wish I could get my phone and bag back, though!

Take care when roaming around alone. Do not get in closed vehicles or vehicles that can become traps, and try not to travel alone to such risky areas."

Arun M., Quora

3."When I was in my early 20s in St. Louis, I lived with my boyfriend. We had a large group of friends who would all party together. At one party, there were a lot more guys than women. The guys were all playing foosball, air hockey, and some other games while drinking excessively. I've never been a huge drinker, so I wasn't drinking. I was just hanging out in the kitchen looking at magazines because I found the party boring, with mostly men playing games. At one point, a guy I had seen around town but didn't really know walked into the kitchen and started chatting. He said, 'Your boyfriend seems to be ignoring you.' I told him my boyfriend was really into competition and loved playing in the foosball competitions. Then he walked over to me and unexpectedly grabbed me. He picked me up and started walking out the back door. I was kicking and punching him while struggling to get away."

Two people are playfully struggling in a parking lot; one is lifting the other off the ground. Their expressions seem to convey excitement

4."There are no winners when it comes to parental abduction. Everyone loses, especially the children. I was abducted by my father when I was four years old and was missing for 14 years. I lived those years on the run, in hiding and in fear. We lived on Greyhound buses and traveled through three countries and 34 states — all to run away from a mother who loved me. I had to dress like a boy, dye my hair different colors, beg for money and food, and change my name and identity many times. I didn't go to school much or live in one place for very long, and I was exposed to inappropriate and dangerous situations. It was a life of fear and homelessness."

"As a very young child, I believed that my father did what he did because he loved me. He told me that the reason my mother wasn't with us was because she didn't care about me and was a bad person. Since I was so young, I quickly began to forget her face, her voice, everything. She soon became a faceless stranger who wanted to take me away from all that had become familiar. I helped my father hide me and saw him as my hero. I, like most children, preferred the familiar to the unfamiliar, even if the familiar was abusive and awful.

Only as I grew older did I begin to see things differently. From things that my father said and did, I began to realize that his reasons for abducting me had nothing to do with my well–being. An aunt of mine, my father's sister, told me that she thought my father was wrong to do what he did. She told me that my mom was a loving, responsible parent who wanted the best for me and wanted me to have a good relationship with my dad and that, before the abduction, I had spent nearly as much time with him as with her. My aunt said that my mother had come to her house crying, begging her just to let her know if I was alive and okay. This really touched me.

Another thing that made me rethink the abduction was that my father had abducted other children before, two of his three sons — my half-brothers from his first marriage. (My mother was his second wife, and she didn't know that he had abducted the boys. He was granted custody of them by a European court, using forged documents stating that their American mother didn't want custody of them.) It seemed to be the way he dealt with his frustrations and made me think that maybe what he did had less to do with protecting me than I was led to believe it did. As a teenager, I nearly destroyed myself, both emotionally and physically. I felt betrayed by those who were supposed to love and protect me, and my world fell apart.

I managed to find my mother when I was nearly 18. It was a difficult reunion since part of me desperately wanted to hang on to the belief that what my father did was justified. It was almost too painful to believe otherwise. But I wanted the truth. I called my mother before my 18th birthday, and we met shortly after. The pain didn't end with my meeting my mom, a wonderful person. (I tried hard to find the fatal flaws that would have justified my father's actions, but they aren't there. She's wonderful.) I had to figure out who I was, where I came from, and where I was going. It took many years to reestablish a relationship with my mother, come to terms with my past, and learn to trust myself, others, and my perceptions of the world."

Terra M., Quora

5."I was kidnapped eight years ago, and it changed me forever. It's an experience you wouldn't want to wish on your worst enemy. I was running some errands with my mom, and we returned home around 9 p.m. In our part of the world, it's normal to have a guard (ours was unarmed) because robberies are common, but kidnappings aren't. The gate was opened by a stranger wearing a guard's uniform. Later, we found out he was one of the kidnappers — he'd beaten up our guard and was wearing his uniform. There were three others, and we found them in the house pointing a gun at my dad's head — his hands were tied, and I can never forget the look on his face and his body language (total helplessness)."

A person is seen in a rear-view mirror with their mouth taped shut, looking worried. The image is from an article categorized as Internet Finds

6."I was held in a room by a guy and wasn't allowed to leave. He threatened to kill me or at least inflict a lot of pain on me. It wasn't the kind of kidnapping situation I assume you are thinking of (i.e., the guy didn't plan on kidnapping me and taking me away somewhere and potentially holding me hostage). The kidnapping I experienced was more of the kind that conforms to a legal definition of kidnapping (confining someone to a space and not letting them go), but it was still scary as hell."

"The guy who kidnapped me was psychotic (he made a creepy statement about how 'He could have protected me,' which was his eery way of suggesting that things were going to turn out the other way, i.e., he was going to kill me), hungover (making him more likely to snap), an expert in martial arts with weapons in his home (including a sword and ninja stars that he showed me), and pissed off (because he caught me in a white lie).

The situation became so intense that I got on the floor of his kitchen in the fetal position and started praying (not to him, just to God or whatever). I was convinced that if I put up any sort of fight, he would have killed me instantly, so by making myself more vulnerable, I think it might have confused him a bit. He started yelling at me, 'You don't look fucking humble.'

I don't remember much of what happened after that, except that I suddenly ran out the back door of his house (without my shoes on), past his killer dogs, and then jumped over his back fence (waiting for a ninja star to penetrate my back) and landed in the backyard party of a family screaming for help.

I then ran down the road to the police, who didn't give a shit about what I told them. It was a very intense experience. Eleven years later, it still haunts me. I was only held captive for about 30 minutes."

Anonymous, Quora

7."I was kidnapped and raped when I was 8, and fortunately, set free the same day. It's rare these days it seems that children who are kidnapped return home. I only know who I am now and have no idea who I would be otherwise, but I definitely struggle with some anxiety and expect bad things to happen purely because they have happened. I suppose I suffer some form of PTSD, but it has never been diagnosed. I can't imagine anyone could go through what I did without long-lasting effects. With that said, people are more resilient than they think. Most who know me today would never guess that is my story. I'm successful and appear very confident to others. Although I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone else, it shaped who I am today, and I'm able to help others because of my experience."

A girl with a pink backpack, wearing a blue dress and striped leggings, looks hesitant near a car with a person gesturing from the driver's seat

8."I was 11 when a bunch of guys kidnapped me seeking political favors from my dad, who, at the time, was a Member of Parliament in Uttar Pradesh, India."

"Being a born foodie, I used to skip out of the school compound with my friend Manu to eat chaats (Indian snacks) by the streets. It felt like any regular day as we went outside and saw a new pani puri stall by the bus stop. We were obviously going to give the new guy a shot, so we decided to share a round of pani puris. The guy was pretty sweet and talkative, which I found unusual since most stall operators are always pissed off, working in the sun with the traffic noise and people sheepishly asking for that extra puri all day. We started eating, and the guy suggested we get out of the sun and sit in a nearby auto-rickshaw, which he claimed to own. It was indeed sunny, so we carried the full pre-prepared pani puri plate (which is unusual considering pani puris are usually served individually, but they were delicious, and we were hungry) and sat in the auto-rickshaw.

Seconds later, a decent-looking guy came to the side where Manu was sitting and asked for directions to our school. Manu, excited to be able to answer an address query for once in his life, handed me the plate and started drawing lines in the air leading to our school. Almost instantly, I felt someone pulling me out with extreme might and throwing me inside a minivan. It felt like a dream, and it took me minutes to realize what the hell was happening. I tried to scream but was too in shock to have sound come out of my throat. I realized I was in deep shit.

They immediately blindfolded me and tied my mouth shut. Then one of them said, 'If you move, you're dead.' I believed them. I was desperate for some kind of sign that I was not going to be killed, so not moving in exchange for my life seemed like a pretty neat deal. And the fact that one guy was holding my right arm so tight I felt it go numb went to show these people meant business.

Long story short, they asked for a political favor from my dad in exchange for my life. Days later, they released me on an empty, far-away street, then called my home and gave four different locations where they might have left me — just to be safe themselves. I was eventually found and taken home."

Anonymous, Quora

9."A friend was kidnapped by three strangers from a grocery store parking lot and put into her car trunk. They drove her to a remote location about 150 miles away, where they had lots of survival equipment. They raped and beat her for four days and told her they were going to kill her. They made her dig her own grave. She saw a man and a child canoeing in a river far below where she was handcuffed and sitting by a fire with two of the men. She ran and jumped off a very steep cliff to the river below, knowing that she would likely die, but she survived. The man in the canoe was an off-duty police officer, and another officer was in a boat behind him. They radioed for an ambulance and backup, and the men were apprehended, tried, and convicted."

A masked man, labeled "Daniel" on a service uniform, appears to be interacting with someone inside a car trunk on a sunny day

10."I was in Nairobi visiting family when I went out for a drink. I ended up being held hostage by three very unsavory characters who proceeded to strangle and then beat the shit out of me. After they'd put the fear of God into me, they proceeded to rob me blind by forcing me to hand over the pins to my ATM cards. By a coincidence, I was carrying all my cards with me that night (moral of the story, never go out with all your cards). Every once in a while, they would proceed to beat the shit out of me, probably just to keep me in fear."

"While all this was happening, I remembered something a woman had told me many years ago. In 1994, she was in Kigali, Rwanda, during the Rwandan genocide. She wasn't a target because she was a Kenyan, so she and her family managed to get out of the country when foreigners were being evacuated. In the evacuation, they had to be escorted through groups of Hutu militia armed with all sorts of crude weapons hunting for Tutsis. She told me, 'If a mountain gorilla charges you, you don't run. You get down on your knees, bow your head, and show deference to him. It's the same thing when you're in a conflict situation. Do not show soldiers or militia any hint of anger, defiance, or contempt. Avoid eye contact at all costs, keep your head bowed, and your mouth shut. They are hyped up on testosterone and the killing fever, so any hint of defiance or aggression could get you killed."

So that's what I did. I showed deference, kept my head low, and avoided eye contact as much as possible. I didn't want them to see me as a threat. As long as they felt they had subdued me, they didn't beat me up. Eventually, after robbing me and forcing me to borrow money from my friends, they bundled me into my car and dropped me off in the middle of nowhere.

So here's my advice if you ever get yourself kidnapped:

Cooperate with them. Give them what they want. If it's money, give it to them. As long as you're alive, you will make more money. Money means nothing to you when you're dead.

Don't fight back until you have an opportunity to do so. Don't show anger, defiance, or contempt; this is the real world, not a Hollywood movie. You'll get yourself beaten up or killed.

Find a way to connect to your kidnappers. One of mine laid off me after he found out I'd taken my mum to hospital the previous day. I think I'm probably alive because of him, but who knows?"

James M., Quora

11."I was very young and inexperienced, from a decent but broken family, and a particularly psychopathic guy got ahold of me. He effectively fought my boyfriend, got rid of him, and moved in on me. When he forced me to sell my stereo and give him the money, I realized that he wasn't interested in me as a person. Unfortunately, when I told him I didn't want to see him, he said he would kill every member of my family if I left him. I believed him."

A man in a plaid shirt appears to be yelling at a frightened woman in a kitchen, with the woman cowering near a microwave