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Ever get the feeling you’re not alone? If you suspect someone is tailing you, you need to take quick and immediate action to avoid becoming a victim yourself. Especially in a crisis, when everyone is out for themselves.

But why would someone be after you? Well, it could be for any number of reasons. Perhaps you crossed someone earlier in the day and they’re holding a grudge, a road-rage incident they’re looking to escalate. Or perhaps it’s pre-meditated, an acquittance or an ex-lover stalking you through the night, or it could even be random. A criminal seeing an opportunity for an easy score, or you’ve just caught the eye of a certifiable lunatic.

It doesn’t matter who is after you, with the right approach you can escape. But before we get into the steps, I want to share the four most important rules you need to follow.

  1. Be prepared for a fight, the person following you has bad intentions.
  2. Do not lead them to your home, or any important location in your life.
  3. Stay in public places with lots of people, using the crowds as witnesses.
  4. Never go anywhere that boxes you in, and you’ve not got a path to escape.

Right, now with that in mind, here’s what to do next.

Check your instincts

Now, your gut is an impressive thing, and often you’ll get a sense of unease as a warning that something just isn’t quite right. If you ever get the feeling you’re being followed, it’s important to check your instincts and confirm what’s going on. Perhaps noticing the same person, or the same car following you. Use your instincts, and do some testing. This is when things get fun.

You could vary your pace, slowing down or speeding up, or do something completely random like dashing across the street. If there’s enough people around you could even pull a 180, turn around and head back the way you came. In a car, make a series of turns in the same direction (four has you driving in a circle), and watch your alleged pursuer as you do, if they still come after you, it’s highly likely you’re being followed.

Still not sure

If you’re still getting a bad vibe but you’ve not been able to confirm your instincts, there’s one of two possibilities. You’re either paranoid, or the people following you are a team of professionals and they’re working with multiple operatives to remain unnoticed. In this instance the best you can do is head to a crowded space and wait for reinforcements.

Call for backup

In everyday life, this is the police. Let them know with as much detail who is following you, describe their appearance and what they’re wearing, and if I was in your shoes, I’d start heading in the direction of the police station, or any other place where there are authorities present, like a hospital, fire station or any other government building with security present.

Even if there’s no authorities around, now’s the time to rely on your friends, family and survival group. Let them know what’s happening, where you are, and to come act as your backup. Trying to fight on your own should only ever be a last resort, because there’s just too much at risk taking matters into your own hands. I’d much rather a car full of armed friends backing me up, than trying to take down even a single opponent by myself.

Lose your tail

There are a few ways you can do this, but mostly it involves using the obstacles and structures around you to your own advantage. If you can duck around a corner and have a few seconds being out of sight to your pursuer, that would be the ideal time to sprint and rapidly increase the distance between you. Especially if you can make it out of sight a second time, because they simply won’t know where you have gone.

In a car, this also works. If your tail gets stuck in a red light you can extend your lead, though you will have to plan this well. If you’re really in trouble you could run the light yourself, but you need to be cautious doing this as you’re in the wrong, and you’re also risking an accident with this kind of aggressive driving.

Change your look

When someone is following you they’re usually focused on something in particular. Your red hat. Your green jacket, or whatever it is. It helps them to focus and not lose you in a crowd of people, but it also creates tunnel vision. They’re scanning for something that’s easily recognizable, so all you need to do is change it. Toss your hat and jacket, or if you haven’t been wearing it, put it on.

Time this with a handful of seconds you’re out of sight, and you may just pull it off. Then you can about face and slip right by them. Though this only works well if you’re of average height and look pretty normal. If there’s anything about you that’s quite distinctive, be it your platinum blonde hair, your height, or even your weight, this may not work.

Escape with a ride

This technique works well if you’ve got a transit pass already, but jumping into a taxi or an Uber is a viable alternative if not. Essentially your goal is to get a head start on your pursuer by doing something erratic, and they cannot follow. Like jumping into a train just before the doors shut so your follower is left behind. Or quickly hailing a cab and zooming off before they can find one of their own. Done right, and they’ll be stuck scratching their head while you zoom off into the night.

Stand up to them

It should be obvious that this is your last resort, but it can work well, especially if you’re in a public place. Because they’re trying to avoid attention, you want to flip this on its head and make the biggest scene that you can. Stand up to them, shout, and tell the world that “THIS GUY IS STALKING ME!”

The downside is this can escalate the situation, so be ready to fight, but it’s leagues ahead of leading your follower back to your home.

And you never know, if you act psycho enough it may get them to back off. Though it could also be the last straw they need to break before they start swinging, so be ready too for a fight. I’d only ever recommend this if you’re not going to be able to escape on your own.

It’s scary when you’re being followed, but that doesn’t mean you need to end up a victim. By sticking to the rules and using these techniques, you can gain the upper hand and escape those who are following you. Stay safe out there everyone.

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