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As you walk towards your parked vehicle late one night, you get that weird feeling in your gut. Then you turn around and notice someone walking some distance behind you.
While you can’t explain it, you get this eerie premonition that something isn’t quite right. Yet this person isn’t doing anything suspicious, really.
How can you tell when you’re in the presence of a predator? And what can you do about it?
Fortunately, there are some red flags that can keep you safe if you’re aware of them.
Sure, we all like the idea of being that Good Samaritan, helping a bystander who needs it. However, you should always be wary when a stranger asks you for help, especially if the request seems strange or out-of-place in any way.
For example, if someone asks for help with a flat tire when there’s a repair shop on the next block, or if they ask you for some food when you’re right in front of a grocery store, this is a red flag.
In this situation, always keep some physical distance between you and the person asking for help.
In some cases, a potential attacker will try to get in the door by offering their assistance to you. Sometimes, this might truly be innocent.
Most people like to help others because it makes them feel good.
However, a red flag goes up if this person insists on helping even after you’ve said “no.”
For example, if that person follows you around after giving you directions to make sure you know where you’re going, even though you’ve already said, “No thank you,” this is a sign of danger.
When a stranger volunteers a long, detailed, personal history, it’s at best annoying and at worst, dangerous.
While it may be innocent, be aware that this is often a technique for distracting you. If you’re listening to their story, you’re less likely to pay attention to the warnings that your intuition is giving you.
It is a known fact of psychology that when someone wants to hide their true intentions, they tend to cover them up with as much information as possible.
“What’s the matter? I’m not gonna do anything to you. I just want to talk.”
Statements like this are attempts to make you feel silly for trusting your gut. The desired effect is that you will doubt yourself and your instincts, thus opening yourself up to a potential attack.
Don’t fall for this ploy. Trust your instincts and avoid anyone who tries to make you feel silly for doing so.
While some of us may be victimized in our homes or workplaces, the research shows that the most negative outcomes still come from harassment by strangers.
Even so, not every stranger poses a threat. Some people are genuinely helpful and kind.
However, if someone goes out of their way to win you over through excessive displays of charm or courtesy, you should see this as a warning that their intentions are far from honorable.
In every situation, your best defense is to be aware of your surroundings and keep protection (in the form of pepper spray or even a small handgun) close to hand.