What to Do If You Feel Like You're Being Followed

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Have you ever felt, as you’re walking home alone at night, that you might not be quite so alone -- like maybe, someone’s following you?

If so, you’re certainly not the only one: More than 75 percent of women have reported feeling like they’ve been followed -- and worse, that they didn’t know what to do about it. Yikes!

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Luckily, former CIA agent Jason Hanson has a high-level tactic from his spy days to get you home safely: Create a surveillance detection route, or an “SDR” for short.

Even better, he broke it down for us.

Turn It
The first thing you do? “Take a turn,” says Jason. “This forces anyone who might be following you to turn the same direction -- and provides you with an opportunity for you to spot someone who is on your tail.”

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Create a Parallel Route
Still not sure? “Plan an SDR that parallels and crosses back and forth over that direct route,” says Jason.

To visualize, you’re moving forward in an S-like shape, back and forth over your direct route -- so you don’t lose it! -- while never exclusively on it. “If anyone’s following you on that long of a route,” Jason says, “that is a clue you’re being followed.”

“Reversals are also another very helpful way to see if you’re being followed,” says Hanson.

To do this, you have to make a 180-degree turn, and one great way to do this is to take the stairs.

“This allows you to get a look at the person following you. That way you know exactly what they look like without looking suspicious,” says Hanson.

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Make a Stop

“Stop at a newsstand or go into a bank,” advises Hanson. “Making a stop while on a SDR can be a very powerful tool.”

Why? Because going into a coffee shop, a bank or a store allows you to see if anyone comes in after you -- or even if anyone slows down while they walk by, looking in the windows.

So what to do if you are being followed? “Stay in a public place,” advises Hanson. “Call a friend, call the police or get a security guard’s help. That way you’re not alone.”

Thank you, Agent Jason!

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