Opinion: What do I do when I hear a scream?


Feature Photo by: Eric Huynh – This is where I looked out and witnessed the kidnapping: it happened on my street and essentially in front of my house. All I could do was watch what was happening…

Eric Huynh, Opinion Editor

I believe I’m a witness of kidnapping.

Just recently, I stayed up till around 1 AM like many other teenagers — it’s usually to do homework, not being able to fall asleep, or just wanting to. That night, I had to stay up because I needed to get my homework done. I even had a close friend of mine on call just so we can keep each other company and from falling asleep. 

With my lamp on and wearing a tightened hoodie, I remember comfortably lying on my bed with my laptop and my phone, typing out my research notes for a dual enrollment class while chatting with my friend. All of a sudden, I heard what I thought was a car alarm going off because that had happened frequently in my neighborhood before. I continued to do my work while ignoring it until it stopped; however, I realized that the supposed car alarm was actually a car horn: *HONK* *HONK* *HONK.* 

Paired with those honks were screams, screams of a woman: “AHHHHHH” “NOOOO” “AHHHHH.” I was not completely sure if she screamed out “NO,” but regardless of what she may have screamed out, I knew something was wrong.

“What the hell is going on outside?”

My eyes dilated while my curiosity and my fear grew. My heart was beating faster and my blood pressure was rising, but I had to know what was going on outside. I peeked through my blinds and vaguely remember seeing two cars: one was parked on the side of the curb while the other one was in the middle of the road. 

Then, I saw the shadowy figures of a couple of men on the streets, specifically one standing outside the door of his car. I couldn’t really tell what was happening because of how dark it was, but I was able to connect the dots: these men were forcing this woman into a car, while her only means of communicating for help were her screams and the honks. Besides me, I doubt anyone heard this ruckus. 

Keeping my eyes on the incident, all of the noises suddenly stopped once the door was shut. They must’ve tied her up or of some sort. The shadowy figures got back into their cars. One of them drove off while the other decided to park in front of my house for a couple of minutes. Why are they parked in front of my house? What are they doing? Suddenly, I became anxious because there was a possibility that they saw the lights of my room and a pair of eyes looking through the windows. Although they could’ve seen me, I just couldn’t take my eyes off of their car. Eventually, the car left and I, on the other hand, was left in shock.


I was so fixated on the disturbing situation that I totally forgot that I could’ve recorded a video of this incident. That would’ve been my only way of helping that woman; the proof I needed to show that I saw it happening. I didn’t think calling the police would be effective because first, it was 1 AM, and second, I wouldn’t be able to describe the situation well enough. What should I have done? As a witness, I felt powerless; I felt useless; I felt guilty.

After witnessing this, I looked back to my friend who was still on the call and was confused too on what just happened. 

“I didn’t think much when you were looking out the window, but I had suspicions because it was late at night and you looked cautious,” said Senior Erica Carlos-Perez. “Hearing you talk about it made me feel scared for you and that woman.” 

Released by the Los Angeles Police Department, the outside surveillance camera involved a woman on her porch witnessing a possible kidnapping in November: the victim’s hair was being pulled while she was screaming. Just like her, I had to go through a similar experience (ABC News).

I hope that woman is safe, but I can’t imagine the type of trauma that woman would have to go through. Francis A. Akwash, part of the Department of Psychology Faculty of Social Sciences Nasarawa State University, Keffi, researched and discussed about the psychological impact of kidnapping:

  • Thinking: Intrusive thoughts, denial, impaired memory, decreased concentration, being overcautious and aware, confusion or fear of the event happening again
  • Emotions: Shock, numbness, anxiety, guilt, depression, anger and a sense of helplessness. 
  • Interactions: Withdrawal and avoidance of family, friends, activities and being on edge. 

Just imagine having every single one of these symptoms listed above; they would be hard to recover from them if you never feel safe. 

Kidnapping is a big threat worldwide and can happen anywhere — you can get taken off the street or even from your house. It can happen to anyone — adults, children, teenagers, etc. I hate how frequent kidnapping cases are these days and it disgusts me, imagining what horrible torture victims of kidnapping go through. If you searched about kidnapping stories, I guarantee you a lot of stories will pop up, but most cases aren’t reported through the media.

“Getting to discuss about it with you made it more prevalent and how people ignore these types of situations, despite how much people talk about it,” said Carlos-Perez. “Being in the actual moment [even though I wasn’t physically there], you feel an immense rush of adrenaline.”

How would other people react? What would they have done if they were in the same position as I was?

“If I witnessed a kidnapping, I would instantly call the police,” said Danny Pham, a senior at Gateway High School. “Then, I would try to hide just in case the kidnapper saw me. After the police comes, I would report them of what I saw and hope for the best.”

If I witnessed a kidnapping I would feel the need to help that person being kidnapped out. I would feel terrible and frightening for that person,” said Ryann Nelson-Jaiyesimi, one of the assistant principals at Rangeview. “There are many factors that would influence what I would do in a kidnapping situation. If no weapon was viable, I’d run over and try to get the person being kidnapped away and safe. If that meant me having to physically restrain the kidnapper, I would most likely do whatever I could to free the other person. If a weapon was visible I’d yell for help, call 911, try to observe and remember as many things as possible to help police find the kidnapper like the description of the kidnapper or vehicle information.”

Students walk down the sidewalk away from Rangeview High School. Personally, I think it’s important to never be alone or at least let people know where you are (Eric Huynh).

First, I want each and every person to be aware of their surroundings; I’m not an expert on how to avoid kidnapping, but it’s important to know where you are and who is around you. Even take WorldAware’s advice; they seem like they know what they are talking about when it comes to avoiding and surviving kidnapping situations. Although there’s a low chance of being kidnapped, it’s something people should always fear and have in mind. 

On the other hand, if you witness (or notice anything related to) a kidnapping — either you physically see it or you just hear someone screaming for help — if possible, try to intervene. Otherwise, you need to report it to the police. Even if you don’t know the full details, just let them know and what possibly happened. I know I’m a hypocrite for saying that, but I want people to learn from my mistakes and make sure nobody has to go through that type of torture.