Note: This article does not deal with being followed while in a vehicle. To learn what to do if you are being followed while driving , please refer to our blog: What To Do If Being Followed In A Vehicle
At some point, most people will be followed for one reason or another. Having a plan in place prior to this occurring can keep you safe.
People tell me when they feel they are being followed, they don’t feel comfortable running and screaming for help. They feel they aren’t really sure if they are in danger.
The good news is, that prior to an attack, there are usually multiple “pre-attack indicators” present. If pre-attack indicators are not blatantly obvious, you can force them.
Prevention – Make Yourself a Hard Target
Ideally, you will try to avoid putting yourself into situations where someone would want to follow you. The goal is to make yourself “prickly”, so a potential attacker will find you unattractive and move on to another target.
- Unpredictable Time & Place: Do not establish patterns that others will notice. Predictable equals easy target.
- Safety in Numbers: Attackers single out individuals who are alone and easily approachable. Surround yourself with witnesses.
- Be Alert & In Charge: Look like you belong and are aware. Avoid distractions such as cell phones. Do not diminish your senses by wearing headphones. Move with purpose and always be confident and deliberate in your actions.
You need to gather good information on which you can act. It is imperative that you determine the intent of the individual following you. For starters, consider the following:
- If you see someone once, it’s random.
- If you see someone twice, it’s a coincidence.
- If you see someone three times, it’s a threat.
Once you are certain you are being followed, it’s time to confirm you are in danger and take action.
Force Pre-Attack Indicators
Very few people are attacked without warning. The problem is that people don’t know the warnings signs. Almost without exception prior to an attack, multiple warnings or pre-attack indicators will be present. These include things such as hidden hands, clothing not appropriate for the seasons, furtive glances, etc.
If pre-attack indicators are not present or you need confirmation that you are in harm’s way, you can force pre-attack indicators.
Let’s use the example of someone walking down the street who fears they are being followed. The following two pre-attack indicators can be forced in order to determine intent.
- Closing of Distance: Speed up the pace at which you are moving. If the person following you also picks up the pace in order to stay close to you, they are probably following you.
- Correlation of Movement: Once you have established closing of distance, you can verify you are being followed by forcing one more indicator. Simply cross the street. If the person following crosses too, there is no doubt you are being followed and you must deal with this immediately.
Get to Safety
The goal is to prevent or break contact with an aggressor and get to safety. You must determine an aggressor’s intent before they get too close and can prevent you from getting to safety. Safety may be the presence of other people, your locked vehicle or going to an occupied home and banging on the door. If you are alone and others aren’t around, get on your phone and call 911. Familiarize yourself with the SoS features of your mobile device. Make noise and do whatever it takes to create space between you and the aggressor.
Being alert and aware of your surroundings is key to determining if you are being followed. Practice good situational awareness and always have an escape route and way to summon help. If pre-attack indicators are not present, learn to force them. Remember, you don’t want to confront an aggressor and get into a physical confrontation. Rather, you want to create an avenue of escape and avoid a confrontation at all costs.