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Has anybody else been followed by a random stranger?

(135 Posts)
Godxilla Sun 20-Oct-19 22:03:24

I was in a mall when I saw a bloke in front of me, he kept on looking at me intently. I thought, "freak", as you do and stared back at him. Thinking nothing of it, I perused TX Maxx, purchasing a couple of items (after waiting patiently in a very long queue). I decided to head out of the mall and pop into a supermarket nearby. As I entered the supermarket, I thought I noticed the same man, which I thought was odd. I had a feeling he had followed me. Whilst picking up a few items on my list, I kept an eagle out, but could not spot him, thankfully. Eventually I made my way to the till, and at the opposite till, the man was there;again he turned around to check me. I noticed he was purchasing croissants only (in my gut I felt that that purchase was a cover, and I thought to myself, nobody would do this would they?) I was going to the exit of this supermarket, and this man was in front of me, and I made sure I checked out whether he would turn left or right. He turned left, and he made his way that way, so I turned right (which was the way I needed to go). I was marching along and I noticed footsteps behind me and then a presence next to me; it was that man, walking alongside me. I got really pissed off, i stopped (he did also) and faced him. He smiled at me (I had a stony expression-so I think). I said "are you following me". He got a little flustered and said he thought he knew me (which I knew was complete bullshit). He then walked away from me. I walked to the car park quickly and checked I wasn't followed which I wasn't.
Anyway, this was in a town, full of hustle and bustle, during the day ; who and why would someone have the audacity to do this? They picked the wrong woman (even though I was feeling a little agitated). In retrospect, he was scanning my ever move which creeps me out. I don't think he expected me to stop and confront him but I do wish I had said more. Should i have taken a photo and reported him? I feel a little guilty now that he may feel free to do this to another woman (perhaps younger and/or vulnerable women.)

4cupsofcoffee Sun 20-Oct-19 22:07:24

Oh god he sounds very strange!

SarahTancredi Sun 20-Oct-19 22:11:57

Yes I've been followed before. Been randomly approached and asked personal questions too.

Last time I.was followed was a few months back i was walking home with someone else. ( another female)we went and hid inside a shop as there was no where else to go and it was dark.

He started yelling and screaming and threatening us and talking bollocks. With the help of the staff we got rid police seemed more interested in taking down my details despite hearing the guy yelling and me telling him to get out of my face than getting anyone to help us hmm

A few days later he assaulted someone else.

Hawkinsxmaslights Sun 20-Oct-19 22:22:56

Sadly I think most women have had this experience. Driving also.

MrsWednesdayteatime Sun 20-Oct-19 22:34:25

So when you asked he didn't deny following you?

You could report on the police non-emergency number, if there are other incidents it will help the police build a picture and track down relevant cctv

VashtaNerada Sun 20-Oct-19 22:39:09

Yes, this happened to me a few times when I was younger. It’s horrible.

holidays987 Sun 20-Oct-19 22:46:39

You could still report this incident. He might have tried it before at the same shopping centre & already be known to them. He'd have been captured on CCTV.

I used to work in public building. We had a member of the public who would try to engage young girls in conversation, in a creepy way. He was known to us and when he entered the building staff would keep an eye out. He never did anything too out of line or illegal so wasn't at that point a concern to the police (though I dread to think what he may have done elsewhere & under different circumstances). We kept a log of his strange behaviour incase it was needed at a later date.

Karabair Sun 20-Oct-19 22:51:09

Yes, I was followed by a man very late at night when I was walking home. I ended up going up to a house with a light on to ask for help I was so scared. Luckily turned out to belong to an aquaintance of mine.

I was also followed down the street by a very tall scary man flashing at me when I was 14.

And people say women are scared of men because we've read something in the papers. Most women have had an experience or experiences like this.

beingchampion Sun 20-Oct-19 22:51:18

Yep. Followed late at night in a rural remote area in my car. Was about 3am and whatever speed I did it just followed at a distance, and it did a route only people driving to my house from a particular village would do. I made a last minute decision to turn into the drive and it bloody followed, only when I u-turned with lights on full beam the bloody police car flashed blue. I was furious and got out and bollocked them - all on adrenalin - I was only about 17 at the time. It was horrible, even though it ended well.

PJsatMidday Sun 20-Oct-19 23:06:19

Yes, several incidents in my 20s/early 30s.

I was coming out of the tube and passed him going the other way at the top of the escalator. He was quite distinctive looking. Walked home. I lived in a mansion block. entrance up some stairs. I was putting my key in the lock when he came up behind me. Asked me the directions to a road. I said I didn't know (I didn't). He then got angry with "why are you being a stuck top bitch" type comments. Started to come up the steps. I turned the key and he pushed his way in behind me. Pinned me up against a wall inside. Assault. I pushed him off, managed to get up the stairs to my flat. Called the police, they came and told me he probably just danced me, I should be nicer and wear longer skirts (I had an ankle length coat over my "provocative" knee length skirt, but ho hum). Tried to make a statement, the female officer wasn't interested. I lived in a nice area, and that sort of thing didn't happen around here. A few nights later, he was waiting outside my mansion block, I managed to get passed him and inside. I moved to the other side of London after that.

2 years later, I was contacted by the police. An off duty police woman had been assaulted and a man arrested. Her account of his M.O. matched mine and that of another woman, whose account had been dismissed the same as mine. A police colleague had trawled through previous reports and linked the 3 of us. Victim 2 could have been my twin sister. The 3 of us picked him out of a line up. It went to court. I was a far too dispassionate witness, needed to show a bit more emotion (but not as much as the police woman victim, who went to pieces on the stand). When doing such humiliating things as showing the judge and jury how far my skirt came down my thighs, I didn't show the appropriate emotion.

Turned out, he lived on my road (one of those very long London roads that can be beautiful and wealthy at one end and a scary shit hole at the other). Also turned out that the police completely fucked up the evidence (including CCTV footage of him doing a 180 to follow me out of the tube), and a load of evidence had to be ignored. He was found not guilty. Found out afterwards that t the time he assaulted me, he had recently been released from prison for rape.

I once had another man follow me from the tube, talking at me for a good half mile. He only fucked off when I got to the restaurant where I was meeting a friend. He claimed we were good friends at university. He couldn't remember which university that was, what my name was or what either of us had studied. I honestly cannot fathom what goes through the heads of men like this. Is this some sort of seduction tactic that works for them?

Not exactly followed; but, when I was heavily pregnant and standing on the tube, some random got off his seat and came right up to me, his face right into mine, and started screaming incoherent nonsense. The rest of the passengers just sat there. No doubt, if I had bothered to report it, it would have been dismissed as some poor disturbed fellow I should feel sorry for.

I am glad that I am now old and invisible.

OneEndedStick Sun 20-Oct-19 23:08:41

Yes! I have, from age 8, and upwards, experienced being followed by strangers; in slowly driven cars and on foot.
I'd say 'random strangers' but in all honesty, it doesn't feel that way. Not now that I look back and consciously realise, these weren't all different kinds of men and women from various, random demographics: Every weirdo creep who's followed me has been an adult male.
An older, white-looking, adult male.

SuchAToDo Sun 20-Oct-19 23:12:16

Report it to police op, there's bound to be CCTV in the shops and carpark that capture him clearly....and if he is bold enough of follow you so openly, what is to say he won't do it again...he may know where you live but you only noticed him on the shop....I would tell the police

runwithme Sun 20-Oct-19 23:18:43

I was around 13, and noticed a guy- red, curly hair- following me in my local town. I didn't tell anyone, just walked and walked. Went into an independent store that my parents and I had been in the week before and went straight upstairs to a mezzanine type area. He came in shortly after, and spoke to the owner. I hurried out and decided to get the bus home. Walked about 500 metres to the bus stop. Waited in line. Turned around...there he was. Decided to walk home, and at that point he gave up. I think he just enjoyed seeing my fear. Utter wanker.

Creepster Sun 20-Oct-19 23:41:36

A lot of them really seem to enjoy seeing our fear.

Karabair Sun 20-Oct-19 23:44:49

Indeed, it makes them feel powerful.

Destinysdaughter Sun 20-Oct-19 23:54:25

Yes. A few years ago I was in the queue in Ikea and there was a man in front of me in the queue. He then left the queue and was just hanging about in front of the tills. I paid for my purchases and walked out. He followed and was walking towards the carpark, but when he saw I was walking out of the shop, he changed direction and followed me out of the shop. I then went into the Co-op over the road and suddenly I spotted him hanging about in the supermarket section, not looking at the produce or buying anything. Now I was feeling v uneasy and thought about telling the security guard, but didn't think I'd be taken seriously. I mean, what could I say, really?

So, I scooted upstairs via the escalator and escaped out of the other side of the shop. My suspicions were confirmed when I was quite a way down the road and he came out of the shop looking for me. I managed to turn the corner and escape into the crowd but it really freaked me out! I didn't know if he wanted to rob me or sexually assault me, but he was definitely following me! Shudder...

Kallyderon Sun 20-Oct-19 23:55:35

Yes, many times. Followed on foot and in car, flashed at, don't even know how many times starting from 12 years onwards. All of my flashers have been wanking as well, don't know how common that is. I reported a couple when it's happened in parks just because there are kids around but the police couldn't have been less interested.

I'm nearly fifty now so ofc it happens less frequently but the last time was only a couple of months ago. I went into a local shop - it was only streets away from my house - and told the owner I needed to stay in there to get away from the guy.

I agree that it's about scaring women and having power over them. There is no way that this behaviour could be even an inept come on. These guys know exactly what they're doing.

OP I would report but I'd also resign myself to nothing being done about it. It doesn't count as a hate crime either even though you'd have to hate women and girls to act this way towards them.

FrothyDragon Sun 20-Oct-19 23:58:28

Not a stranger, but a former colleague. I was, unfortunately, very non-confrontational at this time, and had recently left the job due to his harassment (inappropriate comments on photots, and then him retrieving my email address from company files to email me an "apology" for his behaviour, before telling me I was "unreasonable" to throw away our friendship.)

He saw me in town, followed me, but also talked at me until I was able to get on a bus home. I still feel a huge wave of discomfort when I see him.

Apollo440 Mon 21-Oct-19 01:46:34

These stories are so disturbing and I fear most women have similar stories. There is no shortage of creepy and entitled men and saying none of them will take advantsge of self ID is beyond stupid. Being unable to challenge a male in a previous safe place will be disastrous for women and girls

YellowBup Mon 21-Oct-19 03:59:47

I was in a big clothes shop a few days ago - exactly the same experience.

After the whole “is he following me or not” I paid up quickly, left the shop and had to play “ducking into another shop” to avoid him.

It was horrible how vulnerable I felt - he first started staring at me on a floor with both men’s and women’s sections.

After clocking him/feeling uncomfortable, I went down a floor and crossed into the women’s shoe section to avoid him and after five minutes thought I’d lost him and was trying stuff on.

Lo and behold, I look up and he’s looking at women’s shoes in the next aisle angry

Like pp said, this “type” would quite happily do anything to get into women’s space/female changing rooms etc.

The thing is, this isn’t even an unusual incident or a notable one in being an adult woman (no make up, black tracksuit on - not that it should matter of course).

I actually remember being youngish and in a Marks and Spencer’s ages ago and had taken off my long black boots to try on some shoes (fairly worn ones, clearly not stock) . I walked to look at myself in a mirror and returned to find my boots had disappeared - and I tracked them down to an (elderly) cross dresser who claims he thought they were for sale.

TheProdigalKittensReturn Mon 21-Oct-19 04:45:20

Many, many times, starting at about age 10. The last time I was already in a bad mood so I turned around and said "what the fuck do you think you're doing?", which probably wasn't my best idea ever but luckily he was so startled he froze for long enough for me to vanish into the crowd.

The best ones are when you turn around and look, the look back and stop, and then you start moving again and they keep following, and they do that multiple times, each time looking right back at you like "what are you going to do about it?"

It's not an attempt at a pickup, they just enjoy scaring us and reminding us that we exist in public only for as long as men allow us to.

Godxilla Mon 21-Oct-19 05:29:22

Oh god! This is just awful. I felt I took the power away from this man by confronting him but I felt safe to do so, due to it being busy and daylight. I really don't know how I'd react if the situation was different. What a difficult path we unfortunately have to navigate.

JustaScratch Mon 21-Oct-19 05:47:00

Yes, was followed by a man on the tube last year. He followed me along the platform and then I changed carriages and so did he. We got on parallel escalators and I saw him whisper to his mate who turned round to look at me. Original guy then walked off and mate stayed. I lost him in the (very busy) tube station and ended up hiding in a phone shop next to the station for ten minutes before getting on with my journey.

WatchingTheMoon Mon 21-Oct-19 05:49:59

Many times, as well as to every woman I know.

Since I moved to Korea, it has happened often, presumably because I'm a very visible minority.

smemorata Mon 21-Oct-19 05:59:09

I politely told a young man not to litter. (I was following him down the road and he was literally unwrapping stuff and dropping it on the ground). I work with teenagers so tbh I am used to speaking to them and telling them off!) He came up really close to my face and didn't say a word. He was young but a lot bigger and stronger than me. He then followed me close at my heels for 10 minutes until I went into a business to lose him. It really shook me up even though it wasn't half as bad as some of these. It was the realisation that he was determined to intimidate me. Of course I told dh and he said it was my fault. hmm

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