- Avoid capture in the first place. Prevention is better than cure, in this case. If you know you're being hunted, do everything in your power to elude the hunters. If you can't elude them, eliminate them (read that any way you want to).
- Get away from your captors, if you have been taken hostage. This involves watching for opportunities to be out of the direct control of your captors. That means getting out of their immediate visual and physical contact. Then take advantage of avenues of escape that allow you to put more distance and barriers between you and them.
- Avoid re-capture after you have successfully escaped. Once the bad guys realize you're gone, they might decide to abandon the whole enterprise (unless you're an especially valuable target), or they might go nuts in a frenzy of trying to capture you again. If they do, life is going to get more challenging for you, so that should motivate you to avoid re-capture at all cost.
Avoiding capture falls under the category of Evasion. So, technically, the whole concept of E&E should be E&E&E — Evasion, Escape, and Evasion.
If you know, or suspect, that you're a target, the first priority is to evade your captors by avoiding close proximity to them. In simple terms, that means you stay away from wherever the bad guys are. If you suspect they might take you from your home or place of business, avoid those places. This is where "knowing thy enemy" comes in handy. The more you know about your potential abductors, the more you understand what they know about you — where you work, live, worship, play, etc. Then you avoid those places.
In a combat situation, you avoid the routes (roads, trails, paths) that you expect the enemy to expect you to use. In jungle warfare (or just out in the woods), take the most difficult route rather than the easy trail, because the enemy 1) won't know which way to go to find you, and 2) is lazy and will stick to obvious trails to attempt an ambush.
Avoiding capture might involve laying your own ambush and eliminating the enemy altogether. If there's more than one bad guy involved, this can become complicated. It helps if you cut off the head of the snake — go after the leader and make a "shock and awe" example of him.
Okay, now on to #2 — Escape. If you're in the custody of the enemy, there may or may not be viable opportunities for escape. It depends on how the bad guys are holding you. The tighter the quarters, and the tighter the security, the more difficult it is. But never give up. Look for every opportunity to be in a less restricted and less secure situation — a trip to the bathroom — during transport from one place to another, etc.
If you're being held in a place that is familiar to you, such as your home or office, you have an advantage of knowing where the possible escape hatches are. If you're in a totally unfamiliar place, you must be especially observant and analytical of your surroundings. Look for the vulnerable spots in the building, and analyze where those spots would put you on the outside if you were able to make your escape. It does no good to go through a window on the 3rd floor, if there's nothing but certain death awaiting you from a fall outside.
Escape opportunities arise from conflict among the bad guys. If you can manage to turn one or more of the hostage takers against the others, that increases your chances. It never hurts to try planting subtle suggestions that might lead to a schism among the bad guys. Use ego, greed, suspicion, promise of reward, etc. to plant these suggestions. If the conflict rises to the level of a battle among the hostage takers, that might give you a chance to make your escape.
Now for #3 — Evasion to Avoid Re-capture. Once you're on the outside, use the jungle evasion trick of taking unpredictable escape routes. Don't run down the driveway, or follow the road seeking help. If you're in a neighborhood, don't go to the first house with lights on — the bad guys will expect you to do that and head for that house to ambush you. Pick a house a couple blocks away, one that shows some sign of life. Sneak up on the house and observe it from concealment, watching for any indication that the bad guys have beat you to this location, before revealing yourself. Ask if you can use the phone, and call police.
If you are forced to hide out while the enemy is beating the bushes looking for you, be aware that they might use a tactic I call "recon by fire." In a war, the enemy might shoot randomly into the bushes, hoping to scare you out of your hiding place. In non-combat situations, the enemy might shoot verbal bullets — yelling that if you come out, they'll let you go, or something to that effect. All that means is that they don't really have a clue where you are and they're trying to convince you to give yourself up. There is NOTHING TO GAIN by falling for that ruse.
While you're hiding, be silent. Remove anything that is brightly colored, cause noise, or flash a reflection. If you miraculously have a cell phone, turn off the ringer. Use the cell phone only when you are certain that you won't be heard, and the light of the phone won't give away your position.
Move only when you are positive there is no chance you will be seen. Otherwise, be still as a rock. Movement causes both audible and visual signals of your location. When you do move, do it slowly and deliberately, testing each footstep before committing your weight to it, to make sure you won't snap a twig or kick a rock loose. Move like a cat sneaking up on a mouse. Watch where you're going, so you don't stumble or cause the vegetation to move noisily. Try to avoid scaring up wildlife, or alarming dogs, etc. If it takes all night to move hundred yards to safety, that's better than alerting the bad guys to your hiding place and suffering re-capture.
While you're in captivity, pay attention to details about your captors so you can describe them accurately to the police. This may also come in handy during your escape if, for example, you notice that your captor walks with a limp, or is obese, etc. That might allow you to use those conditions to your benefit by escaping on routes with barriers that would be especially difficult for him to overcome.
So there you have it — some thoughts on the subject of E&E. I hope you never have to use them, but it's wise to include these things in the arsenal of your survival tactics anyway.