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Friday, 13 December 2013

Ladies Beware - Dealing with Stalkers

Have you ever walked home late at night and start feeling uneasy along the way? You hear footsteps close behind you, and you keep feeling like someone was following you? You see him / her at every turn, even when you try to dodge or change your route, they are still trailing you? Yes? You have probably been stalked.

The Startling Discovery
All right, face it - stalkers do not just follow in your wake during late hours or at secluded places. I have been stalked thrice, and two out of these three times were at rather open spaces. 

They follow you on the roads. Sometimes, they may hide behind lamp posts, trees or pillars when you turn around to check on your tail. They quicken their pace to match yours when you start to run to try to shake them off.

The Motive
Unless we confront them, or have been successfully ambushed by our stalkers, we would probably never learn of their motives. Probably they wish to harm / molest you? Perhaps you resemble someone they used to know or are currently obsessed with? Or maybe they just follow you because they find you good-looking, and wish to get to know you.

Either way, it is frightening to be followed, especially if you are alone and defenseless.

How To Determine if You Are Really Being Followed?
Firstly, we need to assess and ascertain that we are really being tailed. It does not matter whether you are walking along the streets, in a mall or just cutting across the parks. As long as your instincts tell you that someone is walking too close behind you, or everytime you turn around, you see the same person behind you, it is better to test it out to see if you are really being followed.

Do something subtle first - do not start running, if not you will alarm the follower. Cross the road to the opposite side, pop into a shop, or stop to talk to someone (ask for directions, maybe?). See if they follow suit, or are waiting outside the shop you popped into.

If you are confident enough that you can deal with the follower, slow down or stop (pretending to check out a tree or lace your shoes) to see if they would pass you by and continue walking, or if they would stop right behind you and make their moves.

If you need to repeat the above a few times just to test the potential stalker out, do it, but with great care. Do not trap yourself in corners where you may get attacked inevitably, or cause unnecessary danger to yourself (i.e. jaywalking).

Confirmed Being Stalked
Once you have ascertained that you are indeed being followed, your senses would be on alert. 

You can choose to run, but do not run into deserted dead-ends or rivers where you may cause yourself unnecessary harm or danger. Run to shake him / her off, or run to a public area where you can then shout for help (if he / she follows, of course). If you know there is a neighborhood police post nearby, run towards there.

Or you can continue to walk, dodge and lure him / her to a public place with many people around, for instance a crowded bus stop or coffee shop. On the way, call the police and inform them that you are being stalked and inform them of your location.

Once you find your safe destination,  turn around and confront him / her on why they were following you. They would probably be taken by surprise as they do not expect you to confront them; usually they will try to deny or say something lame like "I thought you were my ex-classmate" or "I wanted to ask for directions" (yes, I got the latter once, after the guy stalked me from Crawford area all the way to Kallang area).

Let them know that you do not appreciate being stalked, and inform them that you have called the cops. Do not walk away, stay at the destination and wait for the cops to come. Your stalker would try to run away at this point in time; it is all right. Keep his description in mind (clothes, features etc) so that when the police arrive on-scene, you can describe your stalker to them.  They will then conduct a search around the area.

The End
You may then proceed to your original destination slowly and with caution. 

If there is a distance between your current location and your destinated area, take a cab or public transport. Ensure that you are not being followed in the cab or bus / train; ensure that when you alight, the stalker is not still following you.

If there is a need for you to ask for the police to escort you to your destination, ask for it. It is better to play safe. Keep safe.

Tips to Remember
(i) always be alert to your surroundings, especially when travelling alone at night
(ii) when there is a need to travel by foot, whether long or short distance, refrain from having your earphones/ earpieces on. It is very dangerous as you will not be able to detect your stalker.
(iii) when there is a need to travel by foot, whether long or short distance, refrain from focusing on your phone or tablet. Stay focus and alert on the roads.
(iv) if you know there is a need to pass by secluded areas or travel by foot alone at odd hours of the day, do not wear something revealing or provocative. If need be, have a shawl or jacket along. You would not want to be inviting trouble unnecessarily.
(v) have a weapon with you, i.e. a pen or key (but ensure you know how to use it, and have the guts to use it swiftly and forcefully enough if the need arises). If need be, take a self-defense course.

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