By Jody Maki, CEO of GirlOnFire, LLC
I was driving home in gridlock traffic from an out-of-state training session and decided at the last minute to stop at a friend’s house since their place was on my path. As soon as I arrived there, my ex-boyfriend started texting me, I ignored the messages and shortly after, my phone rang. When I answered the phone he said “I know you are in Maryland right now.” I felt like I was in a horror movie, wondering if he was going to bust through the door at any moment.
Online dating has become the norm, more so than just meeting someone organically. Talking to single people (and sometimes married ones), you will find that most have not one, but multiple dating sites they are actively using. A statistic from 2012 says stalking, which considers any amount of fear (i.e., a little fearful, somewhat fearful, or very fearful), shows that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 13 men reported being a victim of stalking in their lifetime. These numbers only get worse as time goes on.
Every day people report their current location, where a particular photo is taken, publishing full names and regular work and play locations. We tell them where we are at any given time and provide these offenders with a play by play of our schedules. It’s never been easier for stalkers to find their prey.
Tips To Avoid Stalkers:
- If you are going to publish locations you visit online, only post after you have left and do not include places that are regular hang outs.
- Do not publish your full name or exact location on dating sites. Always use an alias and do not reveal your name until you feel comfortable with that person.
- Never let anyone pick you up from your home or work. Meet them in public location. Do not get into someone’s car.
- Understand that if you reveal your cell number, location can be tracked in various ways.
- Never allow apps to use your location unless absolutely necessary.
- Never leave your drink unattended, day or night.
- Follow your intuition. If you feel uncomfortable then find a way to exit quickly. You don’t owe anyone explanation or consideration. Your body/gut will tell you if something is not right.
What To Do If You Have A Stalker
- Stop regular social media reporting.
- Vary your daily routine.
- Document behavior, save messages.
- File police report. This behavior should be on record because the stalker can easily turn the tables on you if you don’t follow through with proper reporting. Don’t hesitate, wondering if it’s ‘bad’ enough. Any type of Stalking is a crime.
- Find people in your circle who can be your regular safe check-in people. Friends or family members who are aware of the situation should know where you are so if something is awry they can report it immediately.
- Tell people. One way to regain your power is to be validated that your fear is real and legitimate. Do not keep this to yourself, it is easier to allow the fear to take over if you don’t have supporters.
- Find personal safety options that are readily accessible, i.e. in your hand. My favorite is and number one option is always pepper spray. Anytime you are walking anywhere it should be in your hand and at the ready. If you are surprised by your attacker, you will not have time to access anything not already in your hand. There are many other options to explore, however, extensive training should be done prior to using any lethal or less than lethal options.
Stalking is a crime that can happen to anyone. Pay attention to your public presence and always make personal safety a priority. Smart defense is the best defense against any type of criminal. Be preventative and proactive in your daily life and ignite your power.
Jody Maki is the owner and CEO of GirlOnFire, LLC, a Personal Safety & Firearms Training Academy providing training nationwide for college campuses and high-level organizations. Click here to visit GirlOnFire.life