It may seem like a random and an unlikely scenario, but when it's happening to you, you'll want to know the specific, safe steps to take to help yourself.
I have learned key tips and tricks over the years from unfortunately having experience with this scenario myself. At the age of 22, I can say that I have been followed 8 times in my life beginning at the age of 15, and most recently two weeks ago as I was walking back to my apartment in my new city.
8 times. Not so unlikely now, huh?
I feel that it's vital for me to share what I've learned with all of you in case you're ever in a similar scenario. It's a scary world out there, and every man and woman needs to know how to protect themselves in this situation. Because let's face it, the police aren't able to teleport to you in a matter of seconds. You need to know how to help yourself and stay as safe as possible so you have time to wait for professional backup.
So, if you're ever being followed, here's what you need to know:
Always try your best to stay calm.
I know it's scary knowing someone creepy is following you by foot/car. Being calm rather than panicking will help you stay alert and focused. It also will help you remember the situation better if you need to report this to law enforcement.
Do not talk to/acknowledge them.
These people are like bullies. They want the satisfaction of knowing you are bothered. They want a reaction. Do not engage them in conversation. Do not look right at them. Do not make a face. You don't even know if they have armed weapons. Pretend they aren't there and keep walking.
DON'T GO HOME.
I know it's instinct to run home in this situation, especially if they happened to be following you near your home. However, DO NOT GO INTO YOUR PLACE OF RESIDENCE. You don't want this person to know where you live or worse, follow you inside. Instead, walk right by your place and go to the nearest building. No stores in sight? Go to an apartment building, the front door is usually unlocked to the public due to the lobby.
Crouch down behind the front door. Ring a doorbell inside or knock if you see someone. At least one of those residents will assist you. There's a chance the potential attacker may have seen you enter so the sooner you make contact with another person the better. This is also the time to call the police.
(I was lucky enough to have a friend who lives close by who let me into their apartment during the most recent situation. So, of course, if someone you know lives in close distance to where you are, go there first.)
Gather as much info about the person as you can.
Try to get any sort of information about the person: their appearance, their car, their license plate, their age, etc. This way if you feel the need to call the police, you can give them vital information they will use to find this person. If you can, try to take a picture of their car/them but ONLY if you think they won't see you do it.
If you don't want to call the police.
Wait where you are for 30 minutes. I know it's long, but it's enough time to ensure the stalker has lost interest and left. When they feel like they have to put in the effort, they will likely lose interest and leave; you are no longer "worth it" to them. During these 30 minutes, call/text as many people you trust who are close by. Let them know where you are, see if they can come to get you or at least be with you.
If you do call the police
When you are in a safe enough place, call 911 and say that it isn't an immediate emergency but that you would like to be connected to your local dispatcher. They will locate where you are and put you through to the dispatcher's line in your area. Tell them where you are and then wait for them. Don't leave if it's not safe.
Talk and ask questions.
When the cops do arrive, make sure to have them search the area to make sure the stalker is gone. Police will usually circle the area in question a few times. Ask the cop anything you feel you need to know to protect yourself in the future and also where to go from here.
Take care of yourself.
This incident will sure to leave you feeling uneasy and possibly paranoid. Take care of yourself. Take a shower. Cook your favorite meal. Watch your favorite movie. Call someone and talk about what happened. If a friend offers for you to sleep at their place that night to feel more secure, maybe take them up on that. Being alone after something like this may feel a bit scary, so I definitely recommend taking the opportunity to surround yourself with people instead of being alone right now. It's also a good way to talk out what you're feeling and get support and advice.
Don't blame yourself.
What happened was not because of anything you did; not because of what you wore, not because of what time of day it was., not because of your appearance, etc
It was because of them.
THEY made the disgusting decision to bother you and cause you, terror. You are not in the wrong and should not feel at fault in any way.
So remember, if someone's following you:
Stay calm, don't acknowledge the person, don't go home, get to a safe place, gather as much info as you can, call the police and/or others you trust, talk about it, and most of all,
be aware at all times and never blame yourself. Don't let shitty human beings ruin your quality of life or stop you from feeling joy.
Carry on. Carry strong.