Prepare to survive: law enforcement, advocates discuss abduction escape

Prepare to survive: law enforcement, advocates discuss abduction escape

MONTGOMERY CO., AL (WSFA) - Two kidnapping cases with ties to Alabama sparking new conversations about kidnapping and what adults and young people can do to try and avoid becoming victims.

It's been 13 years since Julian Hernandez was kidnapped. He disappeared from Vestavia Hills just outside of Birmingham in 2002. Police say he was located Wednesday, safe and sound in Ohio. In a completely unrelated case, a woman was allegedly kidnapped and sexually assaulted Tuesday evening near Birmingham.  Police say she freed herself by grabbing the alleged assailant's gun and killing him.

First and foremost authorities say don't put yourself in a situation where you could be taken advantage of. Beyond that, when it comes to survival there is no set list of "safety tips" on how to avoid a kidnapping or how to survive an abduction.

"If someone tries to abduct me, everybody around me is going to know because I'm not going to be quiet. I'm going to be screaming, and yelling and slapping and scratching. I'm going to do everything to do in my physical power to get away from that person," said Leah Costello with Victim Services of Cullman.

Leah Costello, Victim Services of Cullman's Sexual Assault Program Coordinator as a plan if faced with a kidnapping situation, so does her colleague, Portia Shepherd.

"Do what you need to do in order for you to survive," said Shepherd, a domestic violence and sexual assault advocate.

Leah and Portia's plans are spot on with what law enforcement advise.

"Set it in your mind that this is what I'm going to do that over the next four or five minutes, this is what I'm going to do in order to survive the next four or five minutes. That may be to scratch, claw, bite, if I got the advantage, to get away. That may be to be complacent for the next five minutes, "said Lt. Randy Pollard with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office.

Lt. Pollard says every situation is different and there is no specific tip or set of guiltiness for these kinds of situations. "You can't tell somebody that's in that situation that this is the way you address it, there's no way that I can tell you how you save your own life," said Pollard.

Pollard's most tangible piece of advice is to mentally prepare yourself for what you're willing to do to survive. "If there is a firearm there, would you use it? Could you use it? Should you use it? If there's a knife there, would you use it? Could you use it? Should you use it?" said Pollard.

Both advocates and law enforcement agree that kidnapping situations typically don't involve strangers, so while there's no need for paranoia, mental preparation could be a matter of life or death

"There's no step that would prevent kidnapping, there's no step to provide rape but if you find yourself in that situation you do everything you can to keep yourself safe," said Shepherd.

The FBI's National Crime Information Center reveals that 43% of kidnapping cases are considered family kidnapping's while 74% are classified as acquaintance kidnapping, often occurring at homes and residences.

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