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Personal Safety Advice: What to Do if You Suspect You’re Being Followed

22 March 2017
 March 22, 2017

The feeling of being watched is something that most of us can relate to experiencing at some point. Thankfully in the majority of cases this is often just down to an overactive imagination, but what if your fears were correct? Worse still, what if you were being followed?

In this frightening scenario, instinct can play a key role. It’s important to trust your senses and keep a calm head to protect yourself and get to safety as quickly as possible. We have produced some advice on how to tell if you are being followed and what you should do.

Stay calm and in control of your fears

If you suspect someone is trailing you either on foot or by vehicle, your first thought may be to panic and speed up to try and lose them. In fact, this could actually make matters worse and put you in more danger, especially if you are driving. Instead slow down and take a deep breath. Note how the person responds, do they adjust their pace to match or hang back?

Be aware of your surroundings

Being alert whilst travelling about is something that should go without saying, but we all know how easy it is to become absorbed in our thoughts or smartphones and not pay full attention to what’s going on around us. It’s important to keep your wits about you at all times. That way, if something untoward is happening you’re able to respond quicker and people can’t creep up and take you by surprise. If walking beside a road, it’s also advisable to walk in the direction of oncoming traffic so a vehicle can’t come up behind you.

Take a detour to confuse your follower

Try to deliberately go a different way to see if you are still being followed. The best way to do this is to turn away from the direction you’re heading, then go back on yourself in a loop. Alternatively, if you’re walking along a road, find a safe place and cross the road, then a short while later cross back and see if they follow. At this point if they continue to be on your tail, it’s best to seek help as quickly as possible.

Go somewhere public

Avoid going home, or trying to lose your stalker by taking a side street or alley. Instead head somewhere busy, as this may put off anyone wishing to cause you harm. Go inside a busy shop or restaurant and tell somebody you can trust about your suspicions. At night, it may be harder to find a safe place to go, although 24 hour supermarkets may be an option. Stores also usually have security staff who may be able to provide help or stay with you until the Police arrive.

Don’t keep looking over your shoulder

Even though you may be tempted to keep looking round to see who’s following, its best to refrain. If you’re focusing on what’s happening behind you, then you’re not fully aware of what is going on in front. Turning around may also give the game away, so they’ll know you’re onto them which could provoke a confrontation. Whilst they are unaware, you can use this to your advantage.

Get help

If safe to do so and you feel under immediate threat, then call the Police straight away. If you are driving, pull over where you can, making sure the windows and doors are secured.

Carrying a personal safety device or app can provide vital assistance in these situations, especially one that allows you to speak directly with someone who can offer reassurance, send for the emergency services and stay on the line until they arrive. If the scenario described is not a one off, then it may be a good idea to invest in a panic alarm so that you know you have back up should you need it.