The United States is in a very polarized time right now. There are people out there that are VERY passionate about their position on things, some even going as far as following people they disagree with, with harmful intent. Hopefully you’ll never find yourself on the eye-end of a dangerous follower or stalker, but if you do, here’s what you can do to get away.
To start, there are two general rules to follow, regardless of context.
- Do not go home, or to somewhere you consider private. While it may be tempting to go to a place you consider familiar and safe, bringing them somewhere private like your home will only lead them to where you live. I shouldn’t have to explain why that’s a bad idea.
- Stay in a populated, public place. Strangers tend to help people in danger. Attacking someone in a crowd is a good way to get a swarm of strangers on you. For that reason, most followers will wait until you are secluded or alone to make a move. Staying in public where there are others is a good way to keep them at bay and to have immediate help if something happens.
- Call the Police. Trying to be some brave, independent tough guy only gets people killed. If someone is genuinely following you with dangerous intent, the police should get involved. We recognize that some local police forces have a history of racial discrimination, however. If that is the case, please use your best judgement.
With that established, here are some further rules to follow, depending on the situation.
- In a Car: If you’re being followed while you’re driving. The main way to lose your pursuer is to take a route with plenty of stop signs and stop lights. This increases the chances that they will be stopped at the intersection while you continue forward. If they persist, record or remember their information, their vehicle make and model, the license plate, etc. Either drive to the nearest police department (if you can do so safely) or phone the police with the situation.
- On Foot: Use nearby businesses if you can. Going inside to places with cameras and security can deter a follower. Unless you are certain you are safe (next to a police officer or security guard, for example) then you should stay moving. Absolutely stay in public areas with people around. While moving, call the police.
- Do You Confront Them? This will vary, depending on the situation. Some experts argue that by confronting them in a firm, confident way, you can deter a criminal of opportunity. The reasoning is that these types of attackers rely on their targets being submissive and weak. Doing this can shake them of their own confidence. HOWEVER, if the person following you is doing so with the intent to confront you, this will only invite them to (presumably) attack you. See General Rule #2 if that’s the case.Using your best judgement here can help. But if you aren’t sure of their intent, then avoid them.
Be safe out there, folks.