Your world slowly comes into focus as you groggily take in your surroundings. Your head quickly clears as you realize you are bound hand and foot. You've been captured. 

As things come into focus you can see you are not alone. There are others tied and bound such as yourself in various stages of conciseness. Your mind begins to wonder what will happen next....
First of all, let’s list some of the SHTF situations where anyone could end up having to deal with forced captivity: FEMA or Government internment camps meant to control the population after major disasters, unrest and lack of food, water and other resources.

Kidnapping or enslavement by any number of gangs — whether for sport/amusement, sex trade, slave labor, ransom or just because they can in a world without rule of law. This could include well-armed and well-trained drug cartels making their way up through America, small towns living and acting out of fear, racism, resentment or revenge, illegal or legal gangs that already existed prior to a SHTF event, individuals who have become psychologically disturbed through the course of SHTF events and may no longer have access to behavior modifying drugs (anti-depressants, etc.), and more.

Terrorist or foreign military prisoner of war camps.

A community or group of people, in a time of severe famine, using humans for food (cannibalism).

As you can see this is a real possibility in a collapse or hostile takeover. So let's talk about survival.


There are four parts to having the right mindset to survive a forced internment and they are: ATTITUDE, AWARENESS, ADAPTABILITY, & ACCOUNTABILITY.
These four concepts are a good set of cornerstones to base all of your skills on top of. They apply across the board in any survival situation, but are especially important in a situation of captivity. You must realize that physical skills are worthless if you are so frozen or paralyzed by the psychological and mental level of events going on around you that you are helpless.



Simply put Attitude means the will to survive.

It means developing the ability to let the negative experiences roll off your back like water on a duck, and focus on the positive. This can be everything from the attitude of survival in a life-or-death fight with someone who wants to hurt or kill you, to your ability to endure lack of water, food, sleep, basic comforts, etc.
The will to surive is an Attitude that can be taught by forcing people to work together under stressful and adrenaline-charged conditions, followed by review and discussion, and then more training as done by the U.S. Military. 
Being being a lot to adapt relates to your ability to create new tools or new ways of looking at problems with whatever you have on hand. In order to be adaptable you have to have some basic skills and understanding. For instance if you understand knots and levers, you can make a primitive winch with two logs and a rope.

Adaptability means knowing abstract and common-sense concepts and then applying them in a new and different way every time. This can also be taught by placing people in unusual circumstances with unusual tools, salvage materials and other resources to have to work with.

The act of creativity by thinking “outside the box,” is something that you can get better at by being in a situation that forces you to do it over and over again. You learn new tricks and new ways of thinking that have not occurred to you before, which, once you learn, you’re not likely to forget.



Awareness is crucial both as a survival skill unto itself, as well as an underlying concept that everything else can be based on. Awareness is something that you can practice literally every waking moment (and sleeping moments too) of your life. All it takes is remembering to open up your self to awareness. Allow yourself to observe each of the five senses around you individually and by shutting the others off. This will allow you to function if one or more of then are taken from you. Being able to do this effectively can give you an advantage that can mean the difference between life and death in many survival situations.
 This is both a teamwork and an individual concept. Give yourself credit for the things you do right, hold yourself accountable for the things you do wrong. Don’t beat yourself up over things that you did wrong, but hold yourself accountable and learn from it so that you don’t repeat mistakes. In a post-SHTF world, there may not be room for even one mistake, let alone two of the same kind. This goes for working with other people on a team as well. Reinforce the positive but address and hold accountable for the negative.

So how do these concepts work in the real world if you are being held captive?

Firstly, you must understand the state of being held prisoner against your will from the standpoint of awareness and attitude. Aside from helping you avoid the situation in the first place, if it is too late and you are already captive, your awareness and attitude are at their peak for the first 24-72 hours of being captive.

You must use this initial time to your advantage. Unless you are severely wounded, dehydrated, sick or malnourished, your best chances of escape happen while your captors are on the move with you and during that initial 2-3 days.

Most likely you will be strongest, most alert for chances to escape, and there will not be a “routine” set into your mind yet that will wear you down. Additionally, if your captors don’t have you in a permanent location, the fortifications of your own captivity will likely be relatively weak (for instance on the road or in a temporary holding facility) vs. in a permanent camp or confinement area.
Your best chances of escape happen while your captors are on the move with you and during that initial 2-3 days.


Keep your attitude strong internally but do not show this to your captors. Show physical signs of surrender or submission. It’s all an act. Head down, shoulders hunched forward, walk in a shuffle, acquiring a slight limp or feigning injury, illness or weakness, speaking softly, addressing captors with fear and ‘respect,’ crying and acting as though you’ve given up, are all a good start to giving yourself some advantage.

Whatever you assume as your weakness in roleplay, develop a fictional “story” for yourself around it. This will not only help you stay in role, but gives you a fake “breaking point” (a point where you break down and pretend to be emotionally destroyed as though you’ve completely given up) if you are being tortured or hurt for information or amusement by your captors.

For instance, maybe your fake story is that you saw a loved one murdered in front of you, or witnessed something so horrible that you can’t get over it. The world will likely be filled with people in this state of mind after a SHTF event, so you wouldn’t stand out much with this kind of a story and role-play going on, which is also good. You do not want to stand out in any way.


If you are a woman and are aware that you are captive by people who would use this against you, make yourself less attractive, using dirt (face, hair, clothing, etc.), posture, faking illness, etc. Make sure you know what may be happening first, though: You don’t want to end up in the “throw-away” pile of captives if that means execution for instance.

You need to buy yourself enough time and opportunity to escape, and you need to do whatever it takes to survive and be healthy up to that point. The sooner that point happens after being captive, generally the better off you will be for the period of time you have to evade and get away.

Playing the part of a weak and submissive person allows you the advantage of surprise if you have to overcome your captors. It also means you are less of a threat and likely someone they will not be watching as closely.
Having a knowledge of these skills can be the difference between indefinite imprisonment and eventual death or survival. These are skills I'd highly encourage you to get hands on training on and to practice on a habitual basis. Skills like these are perishable and will fade over time.  
Getting out of restraints is often not as difficult as it might seem. Ropes stretch and are very difficult to keep someone restrained with. Normal strength zip ties are broken easily, both in front and behind the body.

There are many videos on YouTube detailing how to break zip ties. Get you a person you trust and some zip ties and give it a try. Make it a learning experience.

A paper clip, bobby pin or any comparable thickness and strength of wire will allow you to pick handcuffs both behind and in front of your back. This requires some practice, but anyone can learn this in a matter of minutes, and with a few hours of practice can be moderately efficient at it. This requires having some type of metal that you carry with you, however.

Carrying a lock pick in your clothing hem, in your belt, in your hair, or elsewhere is not a bad idea if you suspect that being captured and detained is a possibility.
Once you have escaped, you must evade your captors. This is made a lot easier by a number of skills and other concepts such as:

* Preparation and knowing which direction to run.
* Ability to find your way (map, orienteering skills, etc.)
* Counter tracking (eluding trackers)
* Self-defense (armed and unarmed)
* Stamina for long distance travel
* Primitive and urban survival skills while on the run
* A destination
* Hope and a will to survive

Bear in mind that escaping is only getting to the point that you have a fighting chance at survival, and that again, survival alone is much more difficult than survival as a small group where you can divide the work and rely on skills and knowledge of others where you might be weak.
Bear in mind that escaping is only getting to the point that you have a fighting chance at survival


Remember that there is a big difference, however, between starting a friction fire in the summer when it is 90+ degrees out and has been dry for months, vs. starting a friction fire when it has been raining for 3 weeks straight, you’re soaked to the skin and is 50 degrees. This means you can never go wrong by practicing survival skills.  Don't always train under ideal conditions. Push your limits and simulate real world conditions. Not only will it help you appreciate the skills you are learning but it will also prepare you so you are not in shock on how bad it's gonna be when the SHTF. 

Remember friends their is no subsititute for real world training and all the skills in the world will not save you if you don't have the right frame of mind and attitude to survive. Stay safe and God Bless.