Jeannette Tamayo was nine when she was abducted in June 2003, and exhibited a presence of mind that few adults would have in a similar circumstance.
Home from school, Jeannette entered her house, unaware that a man had been following her; he entered too, and that’s when the nightmare began. Soon after, her mother and brother arrived but were promptly beaten up by the man, and he then handcuffed the girl and crammed her inside a box inside his car.
The man took her to the second story of a house where he raped her for a few days and threatened to kill her. As a story on abcnews.go.com reports, Jeannette realized that her only chance of survival was to gain the man’s trust.
Predators see their victims as objects more than as human beings. Instead of constantly screaming and crying, Jeannette communicated with thoughtful words and kept her cool. To her abductor, she wasn’t some shrieking, pleading object. She was a person who started conversation. This approach is highly tactical and is considered a life saver in many abduction and hostage cases.
The young girl said she treated the man like a “normal” person. Soon after that decision, he took off her handcuffs, even allowing her to roam the house. The girl was too infuriated to let Stockholm syndrome poison her, but she continued keeping collected, even sharing with him her plans for the future.
While watching TV Jeannette saw something about asthma tests. She told the man she had asthma and would die without her medication. Next thing she knew, he drove her to a street corner and dropped her off.
However, Jeannette had made a point during the ride to his house to imprint the directions. She relayed them to the police and they arrested him.
Who knows, this could have ended up a Michelle Knight or Jaycee Dugard type situation. Instead of being blindly compliant, this little girl was strategic. Had she been nothing more than a crying, shrieking object, it’s easy to believe that her captor, David Montiel Cruz, who was sentenced to 100-plus years, would have killed her or kept her hostage for years.
Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.