So, I Was Followed

PSA: This summer in my hometown I experienced a pretty scary thing and it was in broad daylight. Lots of women in my hometown area (Tri-State Area NY, NJ, and PA) have been followed by older men. There is no confirmed evidence that these followings are connected. Although they have similar features, there are some conspiracy theories in my area that it is a part of a sex trafficking ring (NOT CONFIRMED), but regardless, it is very scary and a real issue.

You may have heard the stories on the internet circling around about how many women have been followed recently all around the USA. I have seen these tweets all over Twitter and I was even a person who added to this discussion.

I was at my local K-Mart and I got out of my vehicle and noticed an older man right near me and did not think anything of it. I had to go into the K-Mart to simply use the bathroom quickly and then I was on my out again to continue my day when I realized the same man was right on my tail again. I quickly got into my truck and locked my doors instantly. The man backed his van out and pulled into the spot right next to me and rolled down his window, I could see him staring out at me in the corner of my eye.

I quickly got out of the parking lot and noticed him close enough behind me that it was scary, but far enough away that maybe some people wouldn't notice or pay attention. I did.

I went a way that is uncommon to go to see if he was actually following me, and he did. I kept going this way that normal traffic never typically goes and ended up at one of the car washes nearby. All the while, he was following me. I pulled into the car wash line and he pulled behind the car wash. I quickly did a k-turn out of the line and bam, there his red van was again in my rear view mirror. I knew at this point this was no longer a coincidence.

With shaky fingers I called my dad. For anyone else that this may ever happen to, never call a family member first. You should call 911 immediately and tell them you are being followed. My dad is one of five family members of mine in law enforcement. I have grown up heavily influenced by my family’s cop instincts and their way of thinking. I know all of the officers in my area as well. With that being said, looking back, I should not have called my dad, who was, at the time; out of work with a work related injury (chasing people sometimes can make you tear leg muscles and tendons). But in that moment, I did call my dad.

I told him the situation and he told me to get the plate number and that he was indeed following me. Once the man saw I was on the phone he got in front of me and quickly sped away so I was not able to get his plate number or even a good picture. All I had was his and his car’s description.

The police officers in my area looked for him but found nothing. He could have been charged for stalking.

The more my summer at home went on the more of these stories popped up from other women of all ages, many of whom described a number of different men. The police officers around my tri-state area are doing all they can with the little evidence each person has, and unfortunately, none of the followed women could get much of anything substantive to track these people down.

Lots of women in my area opted to staying inside a lot, or not going out alone. I, on the other hand, still live my life pretty much worry-free with going out. I will NOT let terrible people scare me from going blissfully about my life. I won’t let the fear win. I will continue on my way as the independent woman I am, knowing how to handle the situation better next time.

To all my fellow women, remember this: always, always keep your eyes peeled, be aware of your surroundings, and always update people on where you are going. Most people in this world are good—don’t let the bad eggs give you a fear of the world. After this situation, I didn't let myself be afraid of the random friendly strangers when I’m out and about. Am I overly cautious and do I closely study my situations? Absolutely. But I have been raised to be like this. To all men and women, look out for each other. There are so many more good people in this world than there are bad people. Still, keep your guard up and trust your gut.