People Who Got Kidnapped (or Almost Got Kidnapped) Are Sharing Their Stories, And I’m Now Terrified To Go Outside

People Who Got Kidnapped (or Almost Got Kidnapped) Are Sharing Their Stories, And I’m Now Terrified To Go Outside

A while back, Reddit user u/throwaway_district9 asked about people’s most bone-chilling experiences, and people had a surprising number of stories about almost being kidnapped. Because this is one of my worst fears and I’m apparently a masochist, I had to read every one. If you’re curious about what it’s like almost to get abducted, read on to hear people’s stories.*

*We also included some stories from these two Reddit threads.

NOTE: There are mentions of rape, assault, firearms, and violence in this post.

1.“When I was 14, I was walking around the mall where my parents worked before it opened, and I was headed to my favorite store so I could be there as soon as they raised the gate. The store was in a relatively quiet part of the mall and right next to a rarely used stairwell, but I always went that way because it was the shortest path between my parents’ store and this one. On my way down the stairs, I saw a guy standing in the corner on the bottom level next to an ’employees only’ corridor that led to the rear entrances to stores and eventually outside. I paid him no mind, but as soon as I got to the bottom of the stairs, he was suddenly right next to me. He touched my arm and said, ‘I don’t mean to seem weird, but you’re absolutely gorgeous.'”

“I said a polite ‘thank you’ and started to walk away. I guess he wasn’t finished with the conversation because he grabbed my arm, stopped me in my tracks, and asked my age. I was really uncomfortable but decided to be polite in hopes that he’d go away eventually. I told him I was 14, and he said, ‘No way! I would’ve guessed 18!’ I felt relieved when he said that because I naively thought he would become disinterested now that he knew my real age. Wrong again. He proceeded to tell me that he had a small kiosk selling purses and asked if I wanted to follow him to the back corridor to see his backstock. I said, ‘No, thank you, I’m just headed to browse some clothes.’ As I turned to go, he grabbed my arm again — this time violently — and began dragging me toward the corridor. I screamed, but since this was a sparsely populated corner of the mall, it took people a few seconds to realize where the scream was coming from and what was happening. He put his hand over my mouth to shush me, and I instinctively dropped to the floor and became a dead weight. This got his hand off of my mouth long enough for me to scream bloody murder and for a couple of mall employees to run out and see him dragging me. When he saw them, he let go and ran off into the corridor. The police came, statements were taken, security footage was combed, etc. They never found him. He was not an employee and did not own a kiosk, but he had been seen on security footage for a month or so prior, presumably casing the mall. I was very lucky to get away. To this day, I deal with PTSD, and I can’t walk anywhere alone…not even to my car in my driveway. That was 15 years ago, and it messed me up big time.”


2.“I worked in a retail pharmacy that closed at midnight. A guy came in and kept asking me questions like, ‘Where is this? Where is that?’ He then asked me … when I finished work. I said 1 a.m. even though I was done at midnight in case he waited for me. Well, when I left at midnight, he came running across the parking lot asking if he could give me a ride home; he then opened his coat to reveal a gun (which looked ridiculously fake). Thankfully, my work was having renovations done, and one of the construction workers walked over to us and asked if there was a problem. I went back inside with the construction worker and called the police. I never saw him again.”


People Who Got Kidnapped (or Almost Got Kidnapped) Are Sharing Their Stories, And I’m Now Terrified To Go OutsidePeople Who Got Kidnapped (or Almost Got Kidnapped) Are Sharing Their Stories, And I’m Now Terrified To Go Outside


3.“When I was 15, a friend and I got into a guy’s car who lived on our estate (council estate for the Americans). Once we were in, we drove around for a while, as he said he’d take us for some beer and to meet some girls. We, of course, accepted. He went outside on a country lane for a piss. He spoke on the phone, and we could hear him say, ‘I’ve got the boys; you get the clients ready.’ So, we ran, not knowing. Turns out, he used to drug young boys and sell them to men for sex. He was arrested and sentenced to 10 years.”


4.“I was walking down the street with my mom when I was five. She was carrying my sister, so she wasn’t holding my hand. A man approached, coming from the other direction, and as he got to us, he bent down, grabbed me under the arms, and tried to take off. My mom is a superhero, though, and felt something was off as the guy approached. So by the time he got there, she had switched my sister to a different arm, grabbed my arm with her free hand, and ripped me back from this man. A grocery store was nearby, so she ran there and called the cops. I don’t think they found the guy, but apparently, they did say that kind of thing was common in the area.”

“Nothing even happened, and it still messed me up. Men were very scary to me for over a decade after this. I couldn’t bring myself to trust them; they looked like predators to me, not people. I’m really glad I got over that bit. The part that still bugs me is a mild form of survivor’s guilt related to the awareness that not everyone gets away. It’s especially terrifying that people will try to steal children from their parents in broad daylight.”


5.“I am 33M, and this was in the mid-late ’80s. I was kidnapped for a few hours with my cousin. We were dropped off later and had to walk a few blocks home unharmed. It was and remains inexplicable.”

“My cousin was seven, and I was four, and we went to my uncle’s car parked on the street to get cigarettes. It was nighttime. Some guys pulled up in a sedan; they had guns and wore masks and told us to get in.

I think we joyrided for a bit, and I don’t remember being terrified, but I was curious about the guns. I’m not sure of the timeline completely, but we were dropped off around ten blocks away. Our parents were waiting with the cops because we had been missing for so long.

I still can’t explain it. I’m not traumatized. … It’s just something weird that happened to me when I was a kid.”


Three movie scenes: a man and a woman talk, he comforts her as she cries. Text reads: "I don't even know what Lucas is wearing," "The policeman asked about Lucas," "You're not gonna have to."Three movie scenes: a man and a woman talk, he comforts her as she cries. Text reads: "I don't even know what Lucas is wearing," "The policeman asked about Lucas," "You're not gonna have to."

The WB

6.“I was seven, and I was at a state park camping. There was a small playground in the park so I went by myself to play. The state park wasn’t that big, and I was only a few sites away from my camp. A guy came up to me (he had to be in his 30s) and sat next to me on the swing. He started asking me a bunch of questions, like where I was from, who I was with, and whether I came to the park with anyone. I was answering and didn’t feel threatened at all. He asked me if I wanted to come back to his campsite with him and have dinner, and I said yes. He ended up grabbing my hand, and we started walking off the playground together; my stepdad came running up and told him to F off, grabbed me, and asked me if I was okay. I went back to our campsite and never saw that guy again. Looking back on it, I didn’t realize the gravity of the situation. I had no idea what I was walking into. I knew not to talk to strangers, but there was nothing threatening about the guy.”


7.“This happened when I was an 11-year-old girl living in a developing world country in a town where reports of missing kids were common. That Monday morning, I was walking alone to my school (which was three blocks away from home) when two male adults dressed in suits, one of them with silver hair, stopped and tried to chat with me. I felt terrible in my gut, and the hairs on my neck stood up. For the first time ever, all my body felt really weird, it was like it was telling me ‘run the fastest you can.’ They talked about being part of a model agency and forced me to pose for them in my school uniform. They took pictures of me without my consent with a camera.”

“Suddenly, a lady appeared behind me and pretended to know me. She took me by the hand and left me in the school. It turned out that the lady was the aunt of one of my classmates, and she had a bad feeling about these two people. She also said that I should change my route or ask my parents to drop me at school, at least for that week. Two girls from my school disappeared that week and were never found.”


8.“A guy followed me back to my apartment the year after I finished undergrad. My car was the only one in the parking lot in front of my building, and no one else was in the car, so I guess he figured we would be alone. He knocked on my door, and I opened it to a gun in my face. I wrestled with him over it in the door, but he was huge, and I pretty much had no chance. I only remember scraps of the following three hours, and all of it is terrifying. Eventually, he decided he wanted money and forced me into my car as we drove around to various ATMs nearby. I kept dropping various personal effects at each stop, like my work badge, security keycard, license, and credit cards. Finally, we wound up at one in a busy parking lot where you had to walk into a well-lit glass booth to use.”

“He wouldn’t come in with me, and when I got in there, I told him from the doorway that I wouldn’t be leaving the building. I watched him struggle to weigh his options and then take off. I was in denial about it for years because I wanted to believe I was stronger than this, but I haven’t been the same person since that night. He gets out of prison this summer, and I worry about fear destroying the slowly won progress I’ve made in the years since.”


Three-panel meme showing a man with blood on his face saying, "No one's gonna save you." He gets tasered and falls. A woman asks, "Are you okay?" He shakes his head noThree-panel meme showing a man with blood on his face saying, "No one's gonna save you." He gets tasered and falls. A woman asks, "Are you okay?" He shakes his head no

The CW

9.“I almost got kidnapped when I was younger. I was 11 or so and walking back from my friend’s house with my dog. Their house was the street behind mine; both houses were the first ones on the street, so I was going a few hundred feet. And this guy in a dark green pickup comes up beside me and starts asking me if I want a free puppy so my dog has a friend.”

“He started asking me which house I lived in, and when I just waved vaguely, he asked for the specific house, and then, he started getting pushy about how unless I come with him right now, he can’t give me the puppy for free, etc., etc.

Lucky for me, I watched a lot of Unsolved Mysteries when I was that age because my sister didn’t like to watch it alone, so I knew something was weird, and I just had this weird nervous feeling that kept getting stronger the longer I had to stay there and talk to him. But my parents always talked about how you have to be nice, respect your elders, etc., so I didn’t want just to run away and be rude and get in trouble later.

Luckily, my friend came out at that time because she was going to walk her dog, and she started yelling, ‘Stranger danger! STRANGER DANGER! Alice, come back!’ And she went and grabbed her dad. The guy was frantic and trying to convince me to go with him still, up until her dad came out and came running toward me, at which point he slammed on the gas and ran a red light to get away. I still think about it all the time and how if my sister didn’t only want to spend time with me when she was scared and watching Unsolved Mysteries, I wouldn’t have known any better, and something bad would’ve happened.”


10.“When I was about six or seven (can’t remember), my neighborhood friend and I were at the park hanging out. The park was right behind my house, so it was pretty close for reference. Anyway, an older lady…approached us in hysterics, freaking out about her dog who had gone missing. She asked us to help her look for the little guy, and I wanted to help. … I loved dogs, and she seemed scared. I was never warned about female strangers, really, so I didn’t think anything of it.”

“Well, my friend is kinda freaked and whispers he wants to leave, so I say, ‘It’s okay, I’ll help her.’ The other kid runs off. I thought he was running home. But the lady then said he might have run off far, so we should take her car to go find him. This is when I kinda felt odd but still obliged like a fucking idiot. Her car was across the park, and we started walking toward it.

That’s when I heard my mom screaming for me, running like hell to get to me. … The lady sprinted away toward the car and sped off. Turns out my buddy went and told my mom about it. The kid probably fucking saved me, and the worst part is I don’t even remember his name.”


11.“I was led out of the playpark by some shady man who said my mom had sent him to pick me up. I went along until the man discreetly pulled out a switchblade, which is when my head went, ‘Oh shit.’ To get away, I remembered what my teachers had taught me and ran towards the nearest woman while screaming, ‘Mommy!’ and that man bolted.”


Three-panel sequence from a TV show or movie where a child runs toward someone with a dog, then slams into them. No celebrities identifiedThree-panel sequence from a TV show or movie where a child runs toward someone with a dog, then slams into them. No celebrities identified


12.“My dad had an unwell ex. Or co-worker. Or something, as the police could never figure out who his stalker really was. She would send letters to my dad saying, ‘We’ll be together soon,’ and to my mom, she would send, ‘I’ll be Jaded’s new mommy.’ She even sent a letter when my mom experienced a death in the family, which wasn’t in the obituaries.”

“One night, when I was four, I woke up to loud scratching noises outside my window. It was her ripping the screen off to get into my room. I couldn’t scream. My brother panicked and screamed for our parents. If I didn’t share a room with him…I’ve still got a few issues with dark nights and nighttime.”


13.“I had no clue I was being kidnapped because I knew the person. I thought I was going on a trip for a little bit. About a week later, a bunch of police busted in the door and took me outside, arresting the chick. My mom showed up shortly after bawling her eyes out. I was so confused at the time because the person who kidnapped me was my half-brother and sister’s mother. She was upset because my mom was with my dad and wanted to get back at him.”


14.“My mom took me out of school. She had my little sister and her new boyfriend, Raymond, in tow. My sister was four, and I was eight, and we hadn’t seen Mom in a few months, so it was pretty nice, even with Mom’s new boyfriend being there. They bought train tickets, took us across the country to my grandma’s house, and enrolled me in school. In CA, I was in advanced classes, but in this small town, they didn’t offer those, so I was considered very bright because I knew everything they were teaching. … It was basically an extended stay at Gramma’s. Though my mom wouldn’t let me call my dad, so that sucked. Then, these two detective ladies showed up and shoved my sister and me in a car while my mom cried. I was scared, but my little sister shouldn’t see her big sister cry, so I put on a brave face and told her everything was fine. I had no idea who these women were. I don’t remember them calling themselves detectives or any sort of name.”

“Honestly, I feel they kidnapped us, not my mother, because of how scared I was. Anyway, we made it back to my dad’s place, who had sole custody of us, and I had to go to summer school because I was so far behind.”


A woman kneels to speak with a young boy in a suit. Text: "Come on." "I'm not supposed to leave the church." "Jamie. You know I love you. Don't you trust me?" "Okay."A woman kneels to speak with a young boy in a suit. Text: "Come on." "I'm not supposed to leave the church." "Jamie. You know I love you. Don't you trust me?" "Okay."

The CW

15.“I grew up in a well-off neighborhood with a tight-knit community and a somewhat overbearing local police force. I was at the local park with family and friends one afternoon; I was probably ten years old. Some kids set off one of those model rockets; it blasted high into the air and ended up behind a house next to the park. Being a kid, I ran after the rocket and left the boundaries of the park, noticing an old beat-up Dodge van in the parking lot. Some shady-ass man rolled his window down and tried to convince me to get into his van because he saw where it landed and would take me to find it. I promptly ran away and told my dad. He and his friends stormed over there to see what the hell this shady guy was doing.”

“The man peeled out, and we all looked at it as a close call. Later that night, a police officer came to my house because someone had reported him. They ran his plates from the city camera at the park, and this man was from a small town hours away from mine. He was a registered sex offender, and the cop told me I did the right thing by running away. If I had gotten into the van, I’m sure he would’ve driven away with me, and who knows what would’ve happened.”


16.“It was a setup by my first ex and his best friend. I was barely 17. I was naive and thought I’d still be friendly with our mutual friends, so when his best friend called me in the middle of the night, distraught his girlfriend had broken up with him, I didn’t question it. I didn’t question it so much that I left my house around midnight and walked to the closed convenience store a couple of blocks away (without telling my parents, of course) to meet up with him so I could be a shoulder to cry on. When I get there, he’s acting super strange. Not distraught, but stressed. He was also trying to come onto me, constantly checking his watch and phone. His phone rang, he got this wide-eyed look, said he had to go and ran off into the night. I went home with a really weird feeling.”

“Turns out, my ex was a few blocks away in his car. The plan was to kidnap me, rape me, kill me, and dump my body. My ex had a panic attack and thus missed the time slot to drive by for them to grab me and stuff me into the car. I got a call from the hospital saying my ex was asking for me, as he’d called 911, thinking he was having a heart attack.”


17.When I was 14, I was waiting on an elevator to go up to my friend’s apartment on the fifth floor. It was taking a long time. This guy came into the building and stood beside me to wait. He seemed normal enough, but I got a really bad vibe from him and could feel him watching me. I got so uncomfortable waiting there that I eventually went to the stairwell. As soon as I was in it and out of sight, I ran up the stairs, and after a moment, I heard the door slam open and someone running up them. When I glanced down, I saw him chasing me. … I am thankful I was very athletic back then, as that likely saved my life. I got to my friend’s apartment and pounded on the door, crying and begging her to let me in…her older brother heard me tell her what happened and ran out to find the guy, but he was gone.”


Two images show a distressed woman yelling and crying while knocking on a door. Text: "OPEN THE DOOR!" and "(Crying) 'Open the fucking door!'"Two images show a distressed woman yelling and crying while knocking on a door. Text: "OPEN THE DOOR!" and "(Crying) 'Open the fucking door!'"


18.“When I was in sixth grade, I was a latch-key kid who walked home from school. One day, I forgot my house key and found myself locked out and very bored. I sat on the curb across the street dragging a stick across a metal sewer grate because it made a fun melodic clanging noise. I slowly became aware that there was a silver hatchback idling on the side of the road down the street with two people in it. Then I noticed they were looking at me. Staring at me.”

“I started to get freaked out, and I got up and walked toward my house, which was a townhouse at the top of an inclined driveway that we shared with our neighbors. Between the front door and the driveway was a fenced-in area where the trash cans went. The silver hatchback followed me up the driveway. I’m not sure what my plan was exactly, but I ran up to the alcove where the front door was and pressed myself up against the wall. I was obscured from the driveway by the trash can fence.

I heard the car reach the top of the driveway and the doors open. A man’s voice said, ‘Damn, the kid got away.’ They got back in the car and left.

When my parents got home, I couldn’t wait to tell them, but I don’t think they believed me. My dad said that if they were really trying to get me, they would’ve followed me to the door instead of giving up on the driveway, which makes some sense. I don’t know if they were just trying to mess with me or what, but it definitely happened and scared the hell out of me at 11 years old.”


19.“I snuck out of the house when I was 13, just two stops away on the tube (subway), and hung out with my friend for a few hours. I was getting the last train home, sitting in an empty carriage. A big bald man got on and just started gunning it toward me. I was further down enough that I just booted out the door nearest to me (the train was waiting to leave as it was the last stop on the line). I hid behind some standing billboards that separated the platform. The guy got out, looked around, and marched into the next carriage, looking for me, and then he looked in the next. I still shudder thinking what could have happened that night if I hadn’t hidden quickly enough.”


20.“My GPS crashed, and I pulled into a parking lot to fix it. A guy knocked on my window, asking for directions. I spaced out, thinking of the directions, and when I looked back at my window, he was pointing a gun at me. He made me drive to take out money since I didn’t carry cash. Then his ‘getaway’ bailed, so I drove him to a random location across town while being held at gunpoint. I didn’t realize I was even kidnapped until I talked to the police later. They said he had so many charges on him that they could’ve chased him to the end of state lines. They never caught him, though.”


Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley inside a car, looking serious and engaged in a tense conversationNina Dobrev and Paul Wesley inside a car, looking serious and engaged in a tense conversation

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21.When I was 16, I had a pickup truck, and my parents asked me to pick up some new furniture on the way home. As I was driving home, it started pissing rain, and I was worried the furniture would get destroyed, so I pulled over on the side of the road under an overpass to wait it out. As I’m waiting, another car pulls up behind me.”

“A bald man steps out and begins walking toward my car. I tell him I’m waiting for the rain to stop so I don’t ruin the furniture for my parents. He was acting very odd and telling me he would help me out as he was fingering his belly button. I was creeped the fuck out. He says one minute, he has to grab something to help and leans into his car window. All of my alarm bells were going off, so I figured fuck it, and just sped off, furniture be damned. So glad I did; who knows what would have happened.”


22.“I was walking home from school one afternoon when a guy flagged me down on the sidewalk and said he needed help lifting a heavy box onto his cargo van. I stopped to pick it up and found it was probably like five pounds. That was strike one. Then he asked if I could please enter his van, put the box on a seat, and strap it down. That was strike two. I came to my senses and found the whole thing sketchy. As I was about to run from the van, he tried to hold me back and throw me back. Thankfully, I didn’t stop fighting and managed to run away as fast as I could. Looking back at it, it was extremely dumb to even get inside his van.”

“This was around my final year of middle school, eight years ago. So I was like 13.”


23.“My sister had a very close encounter that I think is appropriate to share. One Sunday, she was coming out of the grocery store after parking her car in one of the front rows. … My sister’s driver-side door of her car didn’t open from the outside, so after putting her groceries in the trunk, she proceeded to climb into her car from the passenger side — as she did on a daily basis due to the handle not working. A man saw her do this and took the opportunity to slide into the passenger seat beside her and close the door.”

“Once he shut the door, he pulled out a knife and put it to her throat and told her to drive the car. The man didn’t realize (thankfully) that her door opened from the inside. She opened the door and made a run for it, and when she told me this story, she told me, ‘It was either run and get help or drive and probably die. I took my chance.’

After running and screaming for help, the man jumped out of the car, and a man — whom I will always be thankful for — tackled the asshole, and he was charged with attempted kidnapping. I guess the message I can pass along from this story is that even during the day, at a crowded grocery store on Sunday, women by themselves (or anyone for that matter) must have their guard up.”


A sequence of images showing a person's hand with a car key fob, a blue car with headlights on, and someone getting out of a car at nightA sequence of images showing a person's hand with a car key fob, a blue car with headlights on, and someone getting out of a car at night


24.“I was working for a vet clinic when I was about 16. A man came in a rush, explaining there were some dogs across the street that needed help. I followed him across the street, and he offered to give me a ride in his truck to get us there faster. I declined and jogged over to where I heard the dogs barking. I found the dogs just simply barking in a fenced area — absolutely nothing wrong with them. The guy immediately drove off like a bat out of hell. It took me a second to realize what just happened.”


25.“When I was about 11, this house down the street from my grandparents’ had a reputation for being haunted. One day, I was walking to the shop to get supplies for my grandparents, and I saw the owner of the house outside. He was about my dad’s age and started talking to me. I really wanted to be the first of my friends to go in the haunted house, and I was asking a million questions about ghosts and stuff, and he told me I could come in and see if I wanted. I said I had to go do my errands, but he was pretty convincing and promised he wouldn’t tell anyone.”

“So, up his driveway and into the haunted house we went, but I heard him lock the door when we got in, and for some reason, I was hyper-aware of it. I said I changed my mind, and he kind of blocked me from the door, trying to change my mind and calling me a scaredy cat and stuff. I don’t remember exactly what happened for him to let me out, but he did, and I ran for my life. I Sat at the shop for ages, just shaking and wanting to puke without even knowing what I was scared of.

Anyway, it turned out later it wasn’t a haunted house. The guy was a … serial child rapist. His house burned down while he was in prison.”


26.“Once, when I was, like, eight years old, I lived in a trailer park with mostly normal but occasionally sketchy folks around. I was really bored at home and asked my parents if I could walk up the street to my friend’s house (not very far, maybe just out of sight of my parents’ trailer). It was, like, the middle of the day, and we knew a lot of people on our street, so my parents said yes. So, here I am, an 8-year-old little girl, walking to my friend’s house. Just as I got out of sight, I saw an adult man walking toward me straight ahead.”

“I immediately had my alerts on ’cause I was alone, of course, and had never seen this dude before. I kept hoping he’d veer off on another course away from me, but he kept coming toward me, and I noticed his eyes were locked on me, and he was smiling. I got the creeps, but I was pretty close to my friend’s house now. I looked around and realized there wasn’t anyone else outside to witness anything. He finally got close enough to say something to me, which made me run. He said, ‘Hey, do you think you could take your shoes off? Please, I want to see your feet.’ And I said, ‘Huh? What?’ And he asked me again to see my feet!!! Y’all, I turned around and sprinted so fast back to my house. I was terrified.”


A young man sits in a kitchen, looking worriedly at his red laptop screenA young man sits in a kitchen, looking worriedly at his red laptop screen


27.“I was 16 and going to meet my friends at the beach. Unfortunately, there was a pretty high human trafficking rate in the area, but I still wasn’t afraid to be out on my own. I stopped at the local grocery store to get a bag of ice to throw in the cooler that I brought. I got to my car, and two men got out of a truck a few spots down. They just stood there and watched me walk in. They followed me around the store and stood at their truck again when I came out. I threw the bag in the cooler, and one of them asked if I needed help. I ignored them. I got back in my car, and they immediately got back in their truck. They followed me out of the parking lot and around town for about 15 minutes.”

“Luckily, I grew up in that town, and I knew it like the back of my hand, so I was making dumb turns every few blocks. I called my friends and told them the situation, but I lost the two men while I was on the phone.”


28.“After my parents divorced, my dad moved abroad. He came back for a visit for a week and was taking me and my sister out on day trips shopping and to the park; all normal. Then he took us to the ferry port. And that was about when I clued in. I panicked, grabbed hold of my sister, and started yelling, ‘He’s trying to take us away!’ and raising hell — I was about 11, so my options were limited. Security came running, and my dad took a swing at them and got piled on. I’ve often wondered what would have happened if he’d stayed calm and just said, ‘They’re my kids, and they’re just acting up,’ because we were legitimately on his passport at the time.”


29.“When I was about four years old, I was playing alone in my front yard in a very rural area. Maybe, like, five cars would drive by a day. My parents were both inside, keeping an eye on me, but from the outside, I looked alone. I remember a grown-ass man pulling up in front of our house and rolling down his window to call me over. Even at that age, I knew I wasn’t supposed to get close to this guy. I took a few steps forward, and he said, ‘Hey, can you tell me how to get to such and such place??’ I was 4. So, I was like, ‘Huh??’ And he repeated himself. ‘I was just wondering if you could give me directions to this place.’ Next thing I knew, my dad came storming out of the front door asking WTF this man wanted. He mumbled something about needing directions and sped away.”


Great advice, btw: “One of the things I told my kids was, ‘An adult will never ask a kid for help. They know you’re too little to really know how to give directions or help them do something. Do you know the way to the store? Do you know where (xyz) Street is? If someone calls you over, you immediately come to get me or Dad. You’re allowed to be rude and walk away from strangers.”


Editor’s note: Another one I learned as a teenage girl was “a man never needs your help.” Obviously, this does not apply to, like, a guy in your math class who wants to know if you got the same answer on the homework, but to a grown man who is asking you for help with some kind of physical labor (especially putting something in a truck). If he really wants your help lifting something, it’s still better to be rude and say no just to be safe.

"They don't need damn directions!""They don't need damn directions!"


30.“[I] was about 15 and was walking to the grocery store up the street just like I had done dozens of times before. As I was exiting the apartment complex, a man in a beat-up yellow Toyota drove toward me, and as he passed me, he looked at me, and I got the eeriest feeling.”

“I turned out onto the main street, and a few minutes later, the truck drove past me again, coming from behind. A few minutes later, he passes me again from the front side. I ducked into a side street and hid behind a bush. A few minutes later, the truck drove by again — he would have been coming from behind this time. He was looking and looking, and he was looking for me. I happened to have a cellphone with me — back when cell phones were rare and the size of a novel. I called my dad and told him what was going on. He asked if I could run to the store and lock myself in the bathroom until he could get me. So, I did. When I was on the main street, the truck drove toward me, and the guy saw me. I ran so fast. I knew he would be coming up behind me the next time. [I] got to the store and stayed in the bathroom until Dad came. I am positive that man was going to try and kidnap me.”


31.“Seven years ago, I was a dumb teenager. It was 3 a.m.; I was walking home from a birthday party. I was alone because the man that was supposed to walk with me said he was too tired. … This man approached me [and] offered [me] a cigarette. I thanked him, but suddenly, I got this really bad gut feeling. He asked where I was going. I said, ‘My dad is waiting for me at home.’ He followed me. Then, he asked if I wanted to earn some money. I firmly and loudly said ‘No.’ He asked if I had any friends that would want to. ‘NO.’ I started to walk very quickly. I was just two minutes away from home. And then, he started running toward me at full speed. I ran and called my dad. Told him to go outside and get me.”

“Dude heard it and stopped. He yelled, ‘Will we meet again!?’ I was scared out of my mind, and sometimes, I wonder what could have happened if I wasn’t so close to my house.”


32.“I was walking home from work along a busy street. He was driving and slowed way down to keep pace with me. He said he was a firefighter and that it was about to storm, and I should get in his car. I said no thanks. He kept pushing. Finally, I was about to walk past a hotel, but he pulled partway into the hotel parking lot, enough to block my path. Thankfully, the hotel guard saw me looking uncomfortable. As soon as the hotel guard took a step toward us, the guy peeled out and sped away. Which just confirms he was not a firefighter, and I would have been in danger if I went with him.”


"I am a semi-professional racecar driver and an amateur tattoo artist.""I am a semi-professional racecar driver and an amateur tattoo artist."

Sony Pictures Releasing

33.“I was in middle school — sixth grade, I think — and to get my bus in the morning, I had to walk about a mile or so to the back of our neighborhood. At about 6 a.m., I was chilling, waiting for the bus alone. This man walked up to me, and I can’t remember what he was talking about, but I do remember him trying to get me to go to a house across the street. I kept telling him no and that if I miss my bus, I’m getting my ass whooped (early ’90s, smh). The more I said no, the more agitated he got, and I remember being more scared than I’d ever been and trying to figure out where I could run. I was literally trying to gauge if I could jump into a bayou that’s opposite to us (Houston lol) and not die.”

“But like a fucking boss, my old elementary school bus driver came hauling ass down the street, stopped the bus, and flew out the door screaming at the guy who ran to a car parked in front of the house he was trying to get me to go to and drove off. She banged on the door to the house, and they told her everyone who lived there was accounted for, and they had no idea who the man was. She took me home, and from that day on, my stop changed to a block away from my house. Her name was Ms. Francine, and I’m convinced she saved my life that morning. I’m in my 40s now, but telling the story to my kids still makes me sick to my stomach.”


34.“When I was 18, I was in a South Asian country where I didn’t speak the language. I stood out like a sore thumb, blonde and tall. One day, I was walking around a Buddhist temple doing Puja, reflecting on how to be a better person, when a woman approached me to ask if I could buy milk for her baby. I said yes, and she led me to the grocery store, talking to me along the way about how her husband was abusive and provided no money to support her child. Except we passed many shops and grocery stores and didn’t go in. Then, we went into one far away from the central part of town, where she rang up the milk for $50. It should have cost 50c. At this point, I knew I’d been scammed and wanted to leave. But she wouldn’t let me.”

“She insisted I come to her flat for tea as a thank you. When I said no, she physically pulled me with her. I let go and ran back. I had no mobile phone. I started crying. This country is one of the top countries for human trafficking. I believe I was almost trafficked.”


35.“When I was a child, probably around…seven or so, I had an encounter I won’t forget. This happened in the American Southwest. It was my mom, my grandfather, and me, and we were walking dogs together through a path that led along the outer walled edge of a park. At the back of the park was a gate leading to a parking lot and a gated community. As we approached the aforementioned gate, I stopped to look at something and became distracted while my family continued forward. I heard a voice coming from the gate: ‘Hey, hey’ and turned my head to see a gangly, scruffy man standing at the gate.”

“I would have to guess he was somewhere in his 30s or so. The man called me over to him. So, I got a little closer but knew to keep a good distance from the gate, so I only came close enough to hear him.

The man said that he needed me to open the gate for him so he could come into the park. He continued by presenting a pocket watch, opening it, and then dangling it by its chain. In lieu of a watch face, the item had a holographic green eye that shifted in color and shape as the object spun on its chain. ‘I’ll give you this if you let me in.’

I looked at the gate more closely, and I could see that the gate did not have a lock of any kind. I said to him, ‘No thanks, I’ve gotta get back to exercising,’ and re-joined my family.”


A woman in a black dress, first looking worried and calling "Jamie." She then asks a girl in a white dress, "Have you seen Jamie?" The girl responds, "No."A woman in a black dress, first looking worried and calling "Jamie." She then asks a girl in a white dress, "Have you seen Jamie?" The girl responds, "No."

The CW

36.“I’ve only felt this gut-wrenching, uncomfortable feeling twice. Both times, it was a sketchy white van. The first time, I got off the school bus, and I was waiting at the corner of my street where a white van was idling. As I walked by, the window rolled down, and they asked me if I had lost my report card because they had found a report card and thought it might be mine. I say no and don’t answer anything else. They rolled up the window and sped off.”

“The second time: I was walking home from the theaters with a friend, and we got passed by a white van. It was nothing that unusual, but it slowed down as it passed us. It’s not impossible that you’d need directions, but it’s a pretty basic layout, and you could see establishments. Except they didn’t ask for directions. They just slowed down as they drove past.

Then, they did it again. After the second time, we were both slightly uncomfortable. … The third time, they slowed down even more but then kept driving after. My friend and I looked at each other and started sprinting home. [We] genuinely felt frightened that someone was out to get us.

I didn’t even connect the dots of the two incidents, but I genuinely wonder if some creep has a bunch of pictures of me from over the years for a kidnapping.”


37.And finally…”A friend and I snuck out of the house around 1 a.m. We just walked about a block away from my house to the park. While sitting on the swings, a group of men pulled up in an SUV and started saying some odd shit (clearly drunk). My friend yelled at them to fuck off, and this triggered something. We both got extremely scared very quickly. We ran through a small path that actually led to the elementary school. We hid behind a power unit for a long time. They had come around the block and parked on the street by the school. Clearly waiting for us to appear. Eventually, they left, and we snuck back to my house. … I never walked around at night again.”


Have you ever nearly been kidnapped? Share your story in the comments!

Submissions have been edited for length/clarity.

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