Things To Do If You Think You’re Being Followed
There might come a time when you’re walking or driving home and you notice someone following you. It could be by an ex who’s not ready to move on, a driver hopped up on road rage, or even a creepy admirer who isn’t so secretive about their admirations. Whatever the motive is, it’s scary to be followed. In this event, you might be overcome with fear or panic. Ultimately, though, there are many things you can do to protect yourself from being hurt or robbed by someone who is following you. By figuring out if someone is indeed following you, taking steps to lose the person in a crowd, and acting to prevent injury to yourself, you’ll be much more equipped to protect yourself from being victimized.
Statistics say that 16% of women have experienced being stalked. And if you feel like someone’s getting on your tail, it’s always good to know how to safely manage the situation.
Below we have some practical tips that will help you keep a level head and stay safe.
1. Be aware of your surroundings.
Pay attention to every detail, including street names, house numbers, buildings, stores, and cafes that are around. Knowing your exact location will help you acquire the necessary aid. Avoid narrow and dimly-lit pathways, like alleyways and corridors, where there are only one or 2 ways in and out.
2. Call for help.
Use your phone to call friends or family members who may be nearby. Tell them your location and ask them to pick you up. It’s better to arrange the meeting in a public space, like a coffee shop or store. If you don’t have a phone or your phone is dead, go into any establishment, tell them you’re being followed, and ask to use their phone.
3. Go toward crowded places.
It’s easier to lose a pursuer among a crowd and they’re likely to be more hesitant to make a move in front of other people. If you previously were walking away from busy main streets, act as if you’ve suddenly forgotten something: check your pockets, loudly sigh, announce that you’ve forgotten your wallet, and change direction.
4. Don’t go straight to your home.
You may be cornered while trying to get into your house. Also, the stalker will learn where you live and might wait for you to leave the house or come back later. It’s not safe to go home until you’re 100% sure that you’re no longer being followed.
5. Make a lot of stops at unexpected places.
Cross the street to buy a coffee. Visit a friend at work. Go shopping at the mall. Make your route as complicated as possible. It will simultaneously make it harder to keep track of you and it may even bore the stalker enough to give up their pursuit.
6. Use any opportunity to study the appearance of your pursuer.
Try to study the person who’s after you while managing to stay unnoticed. Don’t look back outright. Watch through car windows and mirrors, take turns, and look around while crossing streets. If you decide to report the incident, knowing the appearance of the stalker will be of major help.
7. Change your appearance.
If you’re wearing several layers of clothes, take off the outer layer. Without the jacket, hoodie, or coat, it would be harder for the pursuer to recognize you in a crowd. Adding or removing a scarf or sunglasses would also be useful. Additionally, tuck in your hood and let down your hair to make it harder to grab you.
8. Speak to someone.
Try to engage in conversation with someone on the street. Pretend they’re your friends to give a pursuer the impression that you’re not alone. You can also talk to staff members of any establishment you’ve entered. Inform them that you’re being followed and ask if you can walk together in public until you find a safe way home.
9. Turn around and look at the pursuer.
Resort to this only if all methods to avoid outright confrontation have failed. Direct eye contact will help you to better remember the pursuer to describe them later. Do your best to give off a confident vibe. You’re letting the stalker know you’re well aware that they’re after you and that you’re not afraid. But don’t try to stare them down: your effort will most likely fail and only enrage the pursuer.
10. Make a noise.
If you feel that things are going south, scream. You can yell, “Fire!” instead of “Help!” since people react to this word more often. Loud sounds can simultaneously draw attention to the situation and scare the attacker off. But be aware that in some cases, you can provoke more violent actions from the offender.
11. Hold your keys at the ready.
If you have a car, the faster you can access your keys, the better. It’s your way to safety, and you want to spend no time searching for them inside your bag. But also, in the worst-case scenario, it’s your weapon. Hold them with the keys’ teeth sticking out between your fingers. Now you not only have your fists, but also something pointy inside them to defend yourself with.
Bonus: How to check if you’re being followed
The most important thing is to understand whether you’re really being followed or just being paranoid.
*Change your pace. If the potential pursuer is catching up to your walking speed, your suspicions are probably correct.
*Make a few irrational turns (for example, circle around the same building) and cross the street, and see if they’re still following you.
*Trick them to walk after you inside a store, then leave. If they’ve left too, immediately come back inside. They have no other reason to go back if they’re not following you.
*Have you ever been stalked? What did you do to deal with it? What helped you?