Every once in a while you’ve got to walk somewhere alone through generally considered “unsafe” territory. Maybe it’s on your way home late from a library cram session and the shuttles have stopped running, you can’t get ahold of your roommate and you have no vehicle of your own. Yup, you’re probably going to make the sketchy walk from the library to your dorm. We get it; we’ve been there.
So what happens if you’re being followed? Well hopefully you have the new iWitness phone app, for one, but if you don’t here are some basic tips to keeping yourself safe with a stranger on your trail:
1.) Stay calm. Panicking is only going to cloud your thoughts. Besides, how do you know they just don’t happen to be walking to a similar area as you are? Slow your breathing and try to clear your head.
2.) Find other people. Do you see any businesses nearby with people in them (a bar, a coffee shop, or even a warehouse with night shift workers)? Do you know of a friend that lives nearby or a party that might be going on just a block down the street? If so, you might want to take a quick detour, at least for a few minutes.
3.) Don’t stop. If you think you’re being followed, the worst thing you can do is stop and let them catch up. Keep walking at a brisk pace until you get more details about the situation.
4.) Have your cell phone ready. Arm your iWitness app, call a cab or anyone that can come help you. Just be sure you keep moving.
5.) Run. Just have an idea of where you are running to. Running straight into a dark, dead end alley isn’t going to help your cause at all. On the other hand, if you see a spot a block away with people, run there, don’t walk. Your follower may see the people too and understand the time they have to make a move are limited.
6.) Yell. No criminal prefers to attack a screaming victim; it draws more attention to the scene. And don’t let the fear of embarrassment stop you; would you rather be an idiot or a dead idiot?
7.) Get as many details as possible. Don’t stop to turn around and see your follower, but if it’s possible to get some details make a mental note of it. Is it a male or female? How tall do they seem to be? Are they following you on foot or in a car? If it’s in a car, can you get a license plate number?
8.) Look for a weapon. This is listed last for a reason; weapons are only useful if you know how to use them and if they won’t be taken away from you and used against you. A metal pipe might only be handy for a second, so you’d better be ready to get your blows in. Just make sure you’re not stopping to look around for something. Just grab it and go.
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