If an ex partner is trying to track you down or you are being stalked by somebody known to you or an anonymous stranger, try to have an escape route. Whether in your place of work or on the journey in or out, wandering around the shopping centre, hanging out the washing or entering any social situation where there could be the slightest possibility that anyone that you may not want to see may appear, you should try to be aware of where you can go to summon help.
There are two main reasons for this.
- Self protection. This is the most obious reason. You are vulnerable if approached by anybody who is unwelcome – if you are fully prepared you can react in a calculated measured way.
- It moves your status from that of a victim to a fighter. It gives you back an element of control which can boost your self confidence, which in turn increases your strength. This is one important element which should never be underestimated.
Visualize what you need to do should an abusive ex partner or any unwanted guest appear at your workplace. Alert a couple of trusted colleagues to your personal situation and ask them that if you ever appeared distressed by the appearance of an ex or if you ask them to call security or the police that they do so immediately and without question. Do not feel embarrassed – this brief moment of uncomfortableness could save your life.
If possible, vary your route to and from work. Try not to be predictable. Alternate your bus or train routes if you can. If you walk change your routine but try to stay on main roads where there are people and cars passing you. Even better – try to vary your start and finish time in work or travel with a friend.
When out, continuously scan your surroundings so that you notice who is around and be aware of places of safety that you can turn to in an emergency.
A police station would be perfect, a shop or a pub is a good bet, a group of people at a bus stop or at the very least, an individual who looks as though they could be sympathetic or is in uniform and as a last resort, a house with lights on or with open windows and which looks as if it may be occupied.
If you are in a car or on a bike constantly revise your options so that you are prepared if you discover that you are being followed. Know where the police stations are and have some idea of which friends are likely to be home so that you can drive to them. It can be very tempting to take off at speed but be very careful. Your focus will not be on the road or the traffic conditions and you could have an accident. But if it is safe to do so and you lose sight of the person who is trailing you in a built up area, turn off the road and park up somewhere crowded.
Some people will accuse you of becoming paranoid but they are not living the situation – you are. It is too late if you find yourself in an awkward situation, panicking as you try to consider your options in a hurry. And I reiterate, it moves you from portraying yourself as a victim to the one in control.
And don’t forget, carry some sort of a personal attack alarm in your hand at all times, or failing this, a whistle