Whether an adult or a child, this self-defence blog post will look at “How to Spot The Abductor’s Luring Strategies.”
Violence may be physical instantly, as in an ambush or set up through a process. I will take you through some of the most common approaches to attracting and luring a victim.
The abductor, whether searching for an adult or child, wants an easy target. Most people think of children being lured, but people of all ages fall for any of several abduction lures. This first lure, I am calling the “Could You Please Help Me” abduction lure.
This one is common. It is a successful abduction lure some of the most notorious rapists and murderers have used. One name brought up often is Ted Bundy, who confessed to 30 murders, although most agree the actual number was much higher.
His name and story might be the most recognizable to people. Therefore, I will not focus on how he became so evil but want to point out how he used this abduction lure.
- Sometimes, he went immediately to the step of violence with his victims. Others, he lured them in by appearing to have a physical disability like a broken arm. He would ask for help near his car, ad many complied. He would use force to abduct them and put them in the car. They would be taken to another location where he would sexually assault, torture, and kill them, disposing of the body.
- Others said in the location of some of these abductions, they recall a man on crutches struggling while carrying a briefcase or fumbling with books seeking help when they fell.
- Another example is when he approached a 14-year-old girl in his van and initiated a conversation. He intended to lure her, but her brother arrived, scaring him off.
- Another story in ATI is, “The brazen abductions happened in broad daylight. Later, witnesses reported that a man with his left arm in a sling had approached them, introduced himself as Ted, and asked for help rigging his sailboat to his car. One young woman initially obliged but grew hesitant when she approached his brown Volkswagen Beetle with no sailboat in sight. “Oh. I forgot to tell you. It’s at my folks’ house — just a jump up the hill,” he said in a slight British accent. When he motioned to the passenger door, she bolted. A little while later, she saw another woman walking beside the man toward the parking lot, deep in conversation.
- He was also, to many, a handsome man, which is another strategy one may employ.
Could you please help me?
Why does this abduction lure work on both children and adults? Because it is human nature for most people to want to help someone else. Children, teens, and adults cannot often see when someone is pretending or faking their need for help. Their overriding desire to help someone in need takes over.
The abductor can sense if they have chosen an excellent potential victim or need to choose another. And because the abductor has a plan, they are one or multiple steps ahead of who they have targeted. Also, apathy and denial come into play with adults. If they are the ones being targeted, many adults feel being adults, they would and could never fall victim to this lure, only to find out they have when it is often too late. Both children and adults fall for this abduction lure. Let us first look at kids. It is critical to understand that many adults think telling children not to fall for these tricks is enough.
They will tell their kids something like, “Never go near a stranger who asks for your help. “They may say it once or several times, but with seldom more than saying it and asking if the child understands. Even with a significant amount of training where a parent tells their child not to go with a stranger or fall for the “could you please help me find my puppy.” Teaching them over and over by just telling them not to do something is not enough.
It takes in-depth chats to understand their age, what they can keep and understand, along with knowing your child’s personality. Where is your child more susceptible mentally and physically to this lure? Kids are innocent, trusting, and without experience to identify this lure. This is why with younger kids, parents mustn’t leave their kids alone at too young an age, even if for a few seconds.
I have shown parents VIDEOS of child abductions to illustrate how fast an abduction can take place. Most parents are in a state of denial that it could happen to them. But with repeated examples and asking if they think those parents in the videos thought the same as they do, they begin to see how it could happen.
Sure, the chance of this happening may be slim, but it is too high a risk when you can adopt some simple strategies. For example, the “could you please help me?” strategy may only take a few seconds if the abductor is in one store aisle while you are in the next. Or they may have much more time to implement the strategy depending on the location and number of people around.
Also, with the abductor being skilled, they can often drop the lure and explain their actions if confronted. If attempting to abduct a child, their explanation may be more challenging to present, whereas an adult can successfully be explained.
Too often, when an explanation is given, people feel bad for having thought the worst. Never feel that way. I would much rather feel foolish than the alternative. Remember, criminals are particularly good at what they do, and their ability to manipulate through questions, and explanations, makes people feel “bad,” which helps with their success.
And due to their ability to manipulate you into feeling bad, the next time a similar situation arises, you are more likely to fall victim to their manipulation. Your intuition overrides everything and is unique each time you get it.
Further to my comments on manipulation, if you do not want to help and you express that, many abductors will make you feel guilty for not helping. This, again, is remarkably successful in luring in the victim. If they see you hesitate to help for just a moment, it may signal them to use the strategy of guilt.
Now it may appear I am saying you should help no one. That is not true but consider several things as an adult.
Where are you being asked for help? Are you in an isolated location with no one around?
Are you by yourself? You are a more attractive target if you are alone.
What are they asking for help with? Is it reasonable to ask you for help with whatever their issue is?
What does your intuition tell you? If any feeling of being unsure, decline and move on, keeping awareness of where they are.
Do they make you feel bad for not helping? This enormous warning sign should confirm why you want to escape to a safer location.
Then consider how I mentioned Ted Bundy being good-looking. If not handsome, it is hard to argue he is not at least “normal looking.” This again plays into the success of the abductor on adults or children.
One example is a famous case in Canada of a guy called Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka often referred to as the “Ken and Barbie Killers” because they were attractive. I used to show a picture of 4 headshots of men to high school girls I was teaching and asked who they would most trust at first glance. Now, of the four images, three of them were of men who were not particularly good-looking. I suspected most would pick the picture of Paul Bernardo, but I did not imagine they would pick him about 90% of the time.
When asked why they almost invariably said because he was “very good-looking” or “hot.” More important is for the person to understand the behaviour of the person in front of them. Is what they are asking reasonable? What does your intuition tell you at the time? Disregard looking strictly at their appearance. Many do receive a bad gut feeling based on looks, whether good-looking or not. There is no one simple step, but never strictly decide on helping based on their appearance. They may be hoping that is how you will decide.
Regarding children, no adult should ask any question at all to begin with. Most often, the abductor will not if the adult is present and paying attention. Therefore, I would never consider asking a child for any help. Telling kids not to do something may be enough for some or not. But depending on age, you also want to avoid sheltering kids from anyone and everyone. They need to learn to trust their own intuition. It is more important to let your kids experience conversations with you by their side and ask them how they felt afterward.
These are opportunities to discuss what is appropriate and not appropriate when you are with them. This is all dependent on age and maturity. Keep the kids within your view and not more than a couple of feet away.
These are topics we discuss in our courses and in-depth with our SAFE Violence Prevention & Self Defence Certification.
Chris Roberts, Founder SAFE Violence Prevention & Self Defence