There are few things more chilling than the feeling that you’re being watched, but there are a couple of things you can do to shake off a stalker.
There’s nothing wrong with being at least a little paranoid because it may protect you while you’re out.
At first you might not be sure that you are being followed because it seems so odd that anyone would follow you. Don’t be fooled. It happens all the time to all kinds of different people. Assuming that someone would never follow you, could be what makes you vulnerable.
The other evening someone tried to follow me home after work when I made a stop by the grocery store to pick up a few essentials. The guy tailed me for two-and-a-half blocks, even running into oncoming traffic to follow me across the street when the crosswalk light turned off before he could get to the intersection. This is what validated my suspicion that the man had been tailing me. Although I had two bags full of groceries, I pulled out my smartphone to snap a “selfie,” which was actually an over-the-shoulder shot of the stranger that decided to tail me. This shot meant that I could now identify him to police if I needed to. When he saw that I had taken a picture of him, he immediately stopped in his tracks and ducked into a stairwell. That gave me just enough time to blend in with a crowd of people getting off of the bus.
As soon as I got in my building, I told the person at the front desk (a good friend of mine) what had happened and gave them a general description of the stalker in case they showed up at the building. I was fortunate to get away safely because I was aware of my surroundings, but this did leave me to wonder what else could have been done to deter the stranger sooner. In my research I came across four key pieces of advice:
1. Get To A More Populated Area
Walking by yourself can be dangerous in some cases. The NYPD suggests that you try to get to well-lit area with more people because you are less likely to be attacked in a crowd. You might do this by changing your walking route or stopping into a shop or restaurant.
2. Use Your Phone
Whether you’re pulling your phone out to snap a selfie, or you’re going to call the cops, having your phone at the ready can help. The key is to be conspicuous while carrying it, though.
3. Change Directions
Sometimes you might be able to shake off a stalker by changing the direction that you’re walking in, or even crossing the street. This may discourage them from tailing you, but it can also validate your suspicion that you’re being followed. The same logic follows when changing your pace.
4. Take A Look
Several websites have suggested that women not look behind them constantly, but Johns Hopkins Medicine disagrees with this conventional knowledge. It argues that looking directly at your stalker will help you identify a potential attacker more accurately because you’ll be able to pick out some details about them. This will also help you to keep track of their location in relationship to you.
As a final piece of advice from me: Tell someone what happened. Whether you call the cops (which is highly recommended anyway) or even just a close friend, someone besides yourself will also be on alert that this behavior is taking place in your area.