Recently, 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, of course I had to read every one.
If you're curious what it's like to *almost* get abducted as a kid or teenager, read on to hear people's stories.
1. "This happened when I was an 11-year-old girl living in a third world country in a town when reports of missing kids were common. That Monday morning, I was walking to my school (which was three blocks away from home) alone, 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 of 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 they 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."
2. "When I was about 6 or 7 (can't remember), my neighborhood friend and I were at the park hanging out. The park was right behind my house so 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 ran 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 start walking toward it.
That's when I hear 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."
3. 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 are going off so I figured fuck it and just sped off, furniture be damned. So glad I did, who knows what would have happened."
4. "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. Sat at the shop for ages just shaking and wanting to puke without even knowing what I was scared of.
Anyway, turned out later it wasn't a haunted house. The guy was a pedophile and serial child rapist. His house burned down while he was in prison."
5. "Once when I was, like, 8 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 have my alerts on 'cause I was alone, of course, and had never seen this dude before. I keep hoping he veers off on another course away from me, but he keeps coming toward me, and I notice his eyes are locked on me, and he's 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 gets close enough to say something to me, and this is what 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."
6. "When I was about 4 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 says, 'Hey, can you tell me how to get to such and such place??' I’m 4. So, I’m like, 'Huh??' And he repeats himself, 'I was just wondering if you could give me directions to this place.' Next thing I know, my dad comes storming out of the front door asking WTF this dude wants. He mumbles something about needing directions and speeds away."
Great advice, btw: "One of the things I told my kids were, '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 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, not applying to, like, a guy in your math class who wants to know if you got the same answer on the homework, but for a grown man who is asking you for help with some kind of physical labor (especially putting something in a truck). On the off chance he really does want your help lifting something, it's still better to be rude and say no just to be safe.
7. "[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 me dad and told him what was going on. He asked if I could run to the store and lock myself into 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."
8. "Seven years ago, I was a stupid teenager. It was 3 a.m.; I was walking home from a birthday party. I was alone because the dude that was supposed to walk with me said he was too tired. ... This dude 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 want to earn some money. I firmly and loudly said 'No.' He asked if I have 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 run and called my dad. Told him to go outside and get me."
"Dude heard it and stopped. He yelled, 'Will we meeting 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."
9. "I was walking home from work, along a busy street. He was driving and slowed way down to keep pace with me. 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."
10. "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, blond and tall. One day, I was walking around a Buddhist temple doing Puja, reflecting about how to be a better person, when a woman came up to 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 rung 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."
11. "When I was a child, probably around...7 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 very back of the park was a gate that led 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."
12. "I’ve only felt this gut-wrenching, uncomfortable feeling twice. Both times, it was a sketchy white van. First time, I get off the school bus, and waiting at the corner of my street is a white van that’s idled. As I’m walking by, the window rolls down, and they ask me if I lost my report card because they found a report card, and they think it might be mine. I say no and don’t answer anything else. They roll up the window and speed off."
"Second time I’m walking home from the theaters with a friend, and we get passed by a white van. Nothing that unusual, but it kind of 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. Just slowed down as they drove past.
Then, they did it again. After the second time, we were both slightly uncomfortable. Maybe you need to U-turn, but slowing down as you drive next to us (we’re safely on a sidewalk a few meters from the street, no need for cars to slow down to pass) is weird. Third time they slow down even more but then keep driving after. My friend and I look at each other, then just start 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."
13. "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. 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've ever been, and trying to figure out where I could run. I'm 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 comes hauling ass down the street, stops the bus, and flies out the door screaming at the guy who runs to a car parked in front of the house he was trying to get me to go to and drives off. She bangs on the door to the house, and they tell her everyone who lives there is accounted for, and they have 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."
14. "Me and a friend 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 came 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."
15. "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 stupid 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."
16. "I almost got kidnapped when I was younger. I was 11 or so and walking back from my friends house with my dog. Their house was literally the street behind mine; both houses the first one 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 starts asking me which house I live in, and when I just waved vaguely, he asked for the specific house, and then, he starts 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 to just 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 starts 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."
17. And finally, this person actually did get kidnapped:
"When I was 15, me and a friend 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 here 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."
Have you ever nearly been kidnapped? Share your story in the comments!
Submissions have been edited for length/clarity.