Celebrities aren’t the only people who deal with stalkers. Normal people get followed from time to time for all kinds of reasons. 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.
If you’re suspicious that someone is following you, we have some practical tips that will help you keep a level head and stay safe.
If you see a potential stalker in the rearview mirror, don’t slam on the gas to rush away from them as a knee-jerk reaction. On the contrary, it’s better to slow down because it gives you time to think things through. Personal security expert Robert Siciliano suggests driving to a police station or other authority office if you suspect someone is following your car. If you’re on foot, stop to look at a store window or tie your shoes, all while staying aware of your surroundings. Use that time to gather your thoughts, do a little deep breathing, and take stock of what’s happening around you.
We do a lot of things on auto-pilot. How many times have you driven home only to pull into your driveway and realize you don’t recall the last three turns you made? If you think someone’s stalking you, make it a point to be extra observant.
This is doubly true if you feel like it’s an ongoing issue. Don’t play on your phone while taking a stroll or zone out behind the wheel. Instead, keep an eye out for things that are out of place. Make note of pedestrians you pass, especially if someone pops up repeatedly. Look for cars making all the same turns you’re making.
Mix Things Up
People make wrong turns all the time, but it’s rare for two people to make the same wrong turn at the same time. If you sense someone’s following you, try a short detour. Turn away from your destination, and then double back. This works as well on foot as it does in the car. If a potential stalker mimics your maneuver, your suspicions may be warranted. If this happens, head to a public place or police station.
Go Where the People Are
Instead of walking home, go into a busy coffee shop. If you’re in your car, drive to a full parking lot, like one at a mall or large shopping center, and go shopping. Crowds can help deter stalkers from continuing to follow you or approaching you, as there are too many witnesses around. If you return to your car, make sure you aren’t walking alone. Speak with a security guard and ask them to walk you to your car. Be sure to check inside and under the car before you get in and always keep your doors locked.
Break Out Your Phone
There are several apps build specifically for personal safety, like bSafe or Canopy. Both offer a host of personal safety features and are available for Android and iOS. You can alert authorities with these apps if you’re in trouble, so they’re great tools to have on your phone.
Kitestring is another excellent mobile tool. Kitestring is an SMS-based service that gives you a simple way to set up automated check-ins, alerting a friend if you don’t respond. As there’s no app to download, it works with any SMS-enabled mobile phone.
Even if you don’t have access to a personal safety service, you can still use your phone. Call a friend or family member, tell them where you are, and stay on the phone with them until you feel comfortable.
Call the Police
If you feel you are in immediate danger, don’t hesitate to contact the police. Calling 911 or the non-emergency police dispatch line in your area are always options, as it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Whether you’re walking or driving and feel you’re being followed, it’s important to stay safe. Keep these tips in mind and use them to help you protect yourself from any stalkers.
Written by Hillary Johnston
A proud mother of four, Hillary is passionate about safety education. She holds a degree in Public Health and Disaster Management. Learn more