What if Someone Wants to Leave Your Shelter?

What if Someone Wants to Leave Your Shelter?

We spend an awful amount of time planning and preparing for bugging-in or out, and rightly so.  We need to have supplies, tools and resources on hand to sustain us until whatever threat we are facing passes.  However, one of the things that we rarely think or talk about is what to do if someone in our party or under our care decides they want to run away.  This is not an easy thing to consider, but it is a very real possibility that we all should be prepared to address.

Don’t Keep Them Hostage

The first thing to remember, unless they are young children, is that you can’t forcibly keep someone in your shelter.  They have the right to make their own decisions based on whatever reasoning they may have.  Forcing them to stay can also pose a danger to yourself or others if they decide to get violent, lose their mind or find a way to sabotage your sanctuary out of spite.  While there are a few tricks to consider that may be useful in helping them to see the sense in staying, at the end of the day you may just have to let them go.  Prepare for this possibility, and the shock and pain you feel if and when it happens will be easier to deal with.

Reason With Them

Listen to their concerns and try to find out the underlying reason that they want to leave.  Are they freaking out?  Do they want to be close to someone they love?  Do they feel unsafe?  Do they not trust in your abilities?  Is there a disagreement as to whether everyone should stay or go?  These are just a few examples of a million and one different reasons that someone may feel the need to flee or venture out on their own.  Listen to them.  Understand where they are coming from, acknowledge their concerns and then try to reason with them.

One very beneficial option is to plant a seed in their mind that they can digest once they’ve had time to think things through.  Sometimes being patient and letting emotions cool down is the more prudent course of action to take as opposed to continually confronting them.  The name of the game is to try and give them reasons to stay, but how you do that depends on the situation and the person.

Give Them Something to Do


Many people start to get uncomfortable and think about things too much if they don’t have activities to keep their attention focused on something else.  People may also feel as though they are simply existing instead of making an essential contribution to the team.  Make sure that you give them something to do that they can value and run with so they will be less likely to abandon everyone else.  This won’t always work, but it’s definitely worth a try as a way to buy some extra time.

Give Them Resources

If all else fails, and the person is going to leave no matter what, make sure that you equip them with basic items that will help them along the way.  They need to be equipped and prepared to venture off and contend with whatever obstacles they encounter.  Instead of throwing up your hands in frustration, it’s more prudent, kind and beneficial to give them a bug out bag along with tools that will help them to get to their destination.  Make it clear that you still care and love them, bless their journey and tell them they are always welcome if they change their mind.

These are just a few things to consider when dealing with someone who is not happy about staying where they are after a crisis.  It’s a possibility that we should all consider and practice dealing with now so that we will be better prepared to have this conversation later.  Hopefully you can find ways to keep everyone safe and tucked away in the shelter, but you should also be prepared to let them go if they really want to leave.  It’s also important that you accept that decision, and don’t brood over it after the fact.  You need to stay focused and on target for your sake and the sake of everyone else under your care, and sometimes letting someone go and moving on is the best course of action to take.

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