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What to do if you are being stalked

Keep yourself safe with this expert advice

By Shivani Joshi  August 14th, 2017

Even if you spent the past 10 days in a Vipassana centre with no access to the internet, you would not be able to avoid hearing about the recent stalking incident in Chandigarh that captured national headlines. According to reports, Varnika Kundu, a local resident, was stalked by the son of Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala. The accused, Vikas, allegedly chased Kundu in his car, before local police came to her rescue. Though Kundu and her father, a retired IAS officer, were brave enough to fight back, even insisting the police file a criminal case against the accused, the shameful truth is that many such incidents go unreported.

The obvious physical danger aside, incidents like these can have a lasting impact on your emotional health too. While there is a higher likelihood of such crimes taking place in lonely areas after dark, that’s not a rule you can rely on. It’s important to know what you can do to keep yourself safe. Sub-inspector of Police, Toral Patel, at the Women’s Safety Cell shares some valuable advice on what precautions one must take when being stalked or followed.

What to do when you’re being stalked

Stay alert and calm:

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“Don’t ignore your surroundings when you are pretty much alone on the street at any time of the day”, says Patel. You can even be followed in broad daylight. It is always better to stay alert as it will help you to take steps in the initial phase and not make hasty decisions that could prove to be your downfall.

Save emergency contacts:

Save the women’s help line number 103 and police control room number 100 on your favourites list or any place you can immediately reach for a call.

Learn basic self defence:

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It’s important for everyone to learn basic self-defence tactics, either by enrolling in a class or even following Youtube tutorials. You can learn anything from karate to taekwondo basics and keep yourself safe. 

Know the area:

If you are travelling alone, especially late at night, have an idea of the nearest police stations you can go to in case of emergencies. “This will save you the time and effort of searching for one at the last minute,” she says. 

Keep the evidence:

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We live in a smartphone generation, where even the cheapest phones now come with a built-in camera. Try and take a photo that will reveal a few details of the stalker: his face, clothes, shoes, car, etc. This will help the police to catch the perpetrator quickly. Patel tells us, “Make sure you look at his appearance at least, this will ease a lot of trouble for you as well as the police in hunting down the person.”

Carry protective sprays:

Those oversized tote bags may be in fashion, but they do not allow for quick reactions. “Keep a small mint spray or any alcoholic spray in a pocket of your bag that can be easily reached.” The alcohol content of these sprays will burn the stalker’s eyes, hence allowing you some time to run away to a safer place. 

Shout and run:

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Make a noise or scream key words like ‘Help’ or start describing your situation to inform people around you. It’s easier to draw attention in residential areas, so run to a place that you feel will have a crowd. 

Image courtesy: Pinterest