This guide was originally created by /u/SpookyMcPants, with input from the entire /r/LetsNotMeet community. Do you have a tip, advice, or a resource that we should add? Please send us a modmail!
This should not be your only guide, and we cannot promise that the advice below will help in every situation. There are a multitude of resources out there that we recommend you check out as well. If you are actively being stalked we recommend contacting your local police department.
- VictimsOfCrime’s Stalking Resource Center
- While this program is no longer updated, it still contains useful advice
- VictimConnect Resource Center
- While they have limited hours, they provide chat and phone services to people experiencing stalking, human trafficking, assault, or abuse
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline
- Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to anonymously talk to an advocate
- Anonymous chat is also available on the website
- The Office of Women’s Health: List of Resources by State
- US-only, many of these resources will also support men who need help
- The BBC: What to do if you’re being stalked
- OneLove: Inside the Mind of a Stalker
- WomenOnGuard Safety Tips
The Guilt Game
THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Period. There is no excuse a creeper can make that should make you feel otherwise. Some of them are really good at using guilt. Some people blame themselves for being stalked, but everyone, whether they be male, female, transgender, non-binary, LGBTQ+, straight, and no matter their race or religion… everyone has the right to enjoy their life without being stalked or creeped on. Period. You didn’t ask for crazy. Crazy happens. Don’t let ANYONE fool you into thinking you asked for it.
The guilt process can be slow. They can be charming at first, only slowly making you feel bad for ignoring them. Spurning them. Don’t buy into it, and don’t ignore the obvious signs. If “no, thank you” isn’t getting it through, it’s time to consider they might not listen no matter the setting.
The Name Game
If you’re concerned about somebody stalking you or creeping on you, make a fake first and last name. Think of it as a little story. Tell friends and family that if you tell someone THAT name, it’s a signal, and that person has been stalking/creeping on you, or you don’t like the vibe. It’s a silent signal, but with supportive friends it won’t be ignored, and the creep is none the wiser.
Early tips for Avoidance
The easiest way to stay out of danger is to avoid it.
- Stop taking shortcuts into dangerous areas. Common sense should be a priority. Is being 15 minutes early to a party worth the idea of you being killed? No, it’s not. It never is.
- Make sure you stick to well lit areas at night. Streetlights are friends, especially if you think someone is following you.
- Look for the cop/security cars around, and flag one down to explain the situation if you are feeling unsafe.
- Avoid dark corners. It is surprisingly easy for someone to yank you out of the light, and into a dark corner.
- Do not wear headphones and listen to music/shows at night where you can’t hear surroundings. You want to be extremely aware of everything around you.
- Alert friends or family before going on blind dates. Make sure someone knows where you plan to be, so communicate where you’re planning on seeing a movie, where you are eating, or anything else that could be useful if your night goes south. Try to not be a silent victim of “I should have”.
- Be vague with details when talking online. Don’t volunteer information about where you are, what your name is, or your age. If the person you’re talking to ends up being creepy, it’s harder for them to harass you without vital information like a first/last name and or town to find you.
- Install a call blocker on your phone. There are many, many options, and the best one is a matter of opinion. Check reviews, and online reviews on them to pick your best one. Make sure you set them to automatically reject/block private and blocked numbers. This helps you get both peace of mind, and makes sure you automatically reduce the options a potential stalker has to harass you.
Tools and gear
There are plenty of things you can carry in a purse, backpack, or your pockets. So let’s go over some good and bad ones.
DO keep an “emergency” card on you. What is it? A business card, blank, that you write something like “I am in danger, ring the police.” Why? To hand someone in public if you are being followed, stalked, or otherwise in danger. When would this best be used? Any time you want help, but fear retaliation from drawing too much attention to your situation.
- LED Pocket Light
- This is the most overlooked item for many. They’re cheap now, and available all over the place. Well lit means well informed of what that banging sound was. Shining it at a creep following you? It might just spook him, since you can make out his details better. It’s not a weapon, but light is still your friend, and it is for this reason that a strong LED flashlight is our top recommendation for defence.
- Pepper Spray
- The old standby. If you go this route, DO get one with the marking ink in it. If you can’t find it in your local stores, order from Amazon. Even if said harasser runs, there’s a chance you’ll tag part of him or her with that ink. And it doesn’t wash out easily. Perfect for a police lineup.
- Check your local laws before carrying pepper spray. Wikipedia has a writeup on where it is and isn’t legal, but do your own research to verify that it’s correct.
- Canes vs Sword Canes
- This is a hotly debated issue. Always pick a cane. Why not sword canes? In many states in the US, and in many other places, they’re a concealed weapon. That’s a felony. You don’t want to get arrested while trying to help protect yourself. A cane on the other hand, is a good prodding/poking tool. And, should it be necessary, a good whack to the knee of a potential assailant should make them think twice.
- Stun Gun
- Please check your local laws on these, as they do vary. If you can’t carry one, pepper spray may be your best option.
- Cell Phone
- Don’t have a cellphone plan? Still charge and carry a cellphone. In most areas, cellphones will always be able to dial your local emergency number.
- Why knives aren’t an option
- Carrying a knife is legal in some states. In others, it can get you arrested. More importantly, knives are poor defence options. They’re extremely short ranged, and it’s very easy for them to be taken from you and used against you.
- Pepper sprays work faster and reach farther. And frankly, you are trying to defend yourself long enough to retreat. You’re not trying to stick it out and fight a battle.
- Why guns aren’t an option
- Guns are not legal in a large part of the world. In addition, handling a gun effectively in a high-stress, life-or-death situation (which is the only situation a gun should be used in) is extremely difficult for highly-trained soldiers and police officers. It is unlikely you would be able to use a gun effectively in a situation that you needed it in, and it brings with it a high risk of it being used against you.
While not a tool, a commonly-recommended book on /r/LetsNotMeet is The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. The mods take no particular stance on this book (and most of us haven’t read it), but it is pretty popular among our community.
The worst thing a stalker/creep can take from you is the sense of security, and we tend to associate home with security. So, let’s set that in your favor. Keep in mind we aren’t building Tony Stark Iron Man things. We aren’t spending a fortune. We’re using simple tricks and simple devices to increase your chances of spooking off crazy.
Please note we’re not recommending specific products, merely categories of products we think may be useful.
- The old standby
- The motion light. Annoying, sure. But cheap. If you’ve explained the creep situation to neighbors, and you should have immediately, get on the same page with this one. Set that light to be damn near as sensitive as an actor/actress winning an Emmy. You want it going off if the wind blows wrong. You want it bright. It’s a pain for someone who wants to creep around in darkness, to have to fight the bright light all the time. And it’s lovely for you. Hell, it’s lovely for the neighbors who might be concerned about their own safety too. What you might not see? They might.
- The camera dilemma
- Yes, these can be rather costly, true., depending on the setup. However, we advise against buying the fake cameras that are supposed to act as a deterrent. There are many inexpensive options for cameras these days, whether that’s building your own with a Raspberry Pi and a webcam, to a full PTZ camera that can record to the cloud. You want them pointing at the dark spots the lights don’t cover. Time lapse recording is wonderful. Sincerely amazing as evidence.
- We all know crazy LOVES to hear itself talk, doesn’t it? If you receive threatening voicemails, save ALL of them. Every one. In a police report, these are lovely. Get enough, and they become a mountain of evidence. Do not underestimate this.
- Are you the Keymaster?
- Stop hiding the house key outside. If you are prone to losing your key, do a little hand sewing. Stitch in a flap and pocket to hold the house key in a hoodie. Anything but leaving it somewhere around your home. The less opportunity you have to let someone enter, the better.
- Automatic light plugins?
- Ironically, these still work well enough. It’s not rocket science to imagine if a creep thinks you are sleeping, they’re going to be more likely to get bold. Keep one set for a main floor room when you go to bed. You want the illusion that someone is awake even when they’re not. Hook a second up to a stereo on an FM station. Make it sound like someone is a little busy in the house, and you’ll give pause to someone considering breaking a window.
- Going Guerrilla
- It may sound silly, but cans tied to strings in places they wouldn’t expect. As in, twine, with empty and clanky soda/beer cans strung through are versatile. Near the bottoms of window sills, for example. Nice to hear some clanking before someone gets right up to peering in. Mix and match things like this. You’d be surprised what you can find, and how cheap you can get that kind of enforcement working.
So you’ve got a creep
Alright. So you’ve landed yourself in a situation. Make sure you’ve set up a fake name. If not? Now’s a good time. Even if they know your real name, any confusion you can throw at a stalker/creep is good. Right now, being in public is your friend. Well-lit places. Stores. Make sure you walk up to clerks, or other folks. Be brave enough to alert someone to what’s going on. You never know if that walk home is going to be safe, so make sure you increase your odds. Tell people about the creep.
Do NOT ignore odd signs/sounds –
Animals get spooked a little too much? Are they acting weird near the door/windows? Ring the police immediately and report a possible prowler. If you hear crashing sounds, etc., do the same. Ignoring the creep only lets them think they’re getting away with invading your space and and your life, and you want to minimize this. You want them to be aware that you know the moment something is off in the place you live. Easy marks are what they usually want.
Turn the tables –
Creeps usually depend on one thing: their plan. Now, it’s impossible to determine what someone is thinking, and let’s be honest. Crazy is a whole Disneyland of fetishes, likes, and weird signals someone perceives you send them that gives them a right to bother you.
If they are following, but not running after you. Or, if you have had to talk to them and they are literally too close for you to avoid, wave. Wave to anyone else. Speak very, very loudly. Put THEM on the spot. It does indeed put them in the defensive. It may even screw up a sick plan of theirs. Mouth the words help, to anyone you can. Modesty is not your friend when surviving an encounter. Bravado is. Make sure anyone you DO wave over is someone you don’t get an equally bad vibe from. In most cases, running into a store is safest, so you can alert clerks, and then police.
Think of the situation. How dangerous did this person seem? What did they look like and wear? Did they seem skittish, nervous, on medications or drugs? Write every detail about them you can on paper. Especially times. Every encounter, every window peek. Everything. If possible, transfer that to a notebook. Hard copies on paper are still the best evidence. Times help stop alibis.
Tell parents. Tell friends. Alert neighbors. Local shop owners. Why ALL of these? The more eyes that see this creep around, the more talk begins generating. Someone who gets labeled “creepy” in a neighborhood by enough people won’t get a moment’s rest. You want that level of safety for you. Tell someone.
First step after a creepy encounter? TELL SOMEONE. Without fail, every time.
Ring police with your notes. Make a report, that puts the creep on file with police. This is important. Think not just of yourself for a moment, but other possible people this person might be harassing. Enough reports means more eyes on them, and that’s what you want. You making that report starts the chain of proof you need to halt the drama and bullshit in your life.
Lastly, make sure you go back to that name. It’s not just a fake name, it’s a code. Get used to saying it, so when the moment happens, you won’t stall. If you’re Jerry from Maine, now you’re Tom from Ohio, who’s just visiting family for a day or two. The difference is that name’s meaning. It’s safety. It’s a “let’s get the hell out of here please.”
Social Stalkers! In the bars, clubs, or at parties
Firstly, the Golden Rule. Do not ever, every, EVER set your drink down and walk away. Not even to turn your back and talk to another friend. Assume someone will slip something in it. Why? Because for every nice person, there is a mean/creepy one. If they see a drink left by a guy or girl that they dig, it makes you an easy mark. You want to avoid being anything close to that. Music is loud in any one of those settings, which makes it difficult to hear when somebody may be messing with your drink.
Never go to any one of the three alone, charge your phone before going out, and establish a simple hand signal for help. Using a friendly system of bailing one another out helps to avoid pushy men and women. Again, keep the signals simple. Things they wouldn’t notice, but friends would, such as scratching your chin. It’s not a big deal, but it lets your friends know you don’t want to be talking to whomever is bothering you.
At a bar/club, do not hesitate to tell a bouncer about a creepy person. It’s their job, and they often do that job because they want to help others. You aren’t a bother. You are a person who they want to be safe. Never forget that.
- In some places, you may be able to ask staff for “Angela”, or order “Angel Shots”. This is a common codeword used to identify when people are in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation. It’s not universal, however, and not every bar or club will know what you mean.
At a party, before going anywhere, tell a friend or group of friends exactly where you’ll be. Give them an address and a list of people who might be there. This cuts down on the need to explain more, and frees you up to get out of there if things go south.
Social Awkwardness vs Creeps
In closing, it’s a good idea to note that there IS a difference between the two. A person smiling at you and waving, doesn’t instantly denote the next serial killer. It may be someone who has almost no idea how to socially approach someone they find attractive.
What if I see someone else I think is in trouble?
The worst thing we as a society can do is ignore others in trouble. It is vital to help, because that person in trouble needs help, and you’d want the help of someone in a time of need yourself.
- Assess the situation.
- Does it seem genuine? Is it a case of two strangers, where one person looks genuinely frightened? Make sure it’s not friends being goofy with one another. That said, the look of fear in someone’s eyes should tell you that they are in over their heads. That’s where you can make a difference.
- Check in.
- Get close enough behind the creep bothering them so that the person in need of help can see you. Make sure you catch their eye. Mouth a very simple question. “Are you okay?” This step is one of the most vital.
- Why this step? To make sure you aren’t reading things wrong. If they seem reluctant to answer, or give some signal that no they are not okay, then proceed to call the police or interrupt the conversation.
- Make a difference.
- If you think there’s a risk of violence, call the police. It may take them a few minutes to show up, but it’s better to have them on their way when they’re not needed than it is to need them and not have them.
- If you choose to interact in the conversation, you’ll want to address the creep. Say something like “Hi. How are you two today? I swear you look familiar, but I don’t recall your name?” You want to quiz them. Inquire. You want them nervous and off guard. Meanwhile, nod to the scared person. Tell them something along the lines of “go on ahead of me, I want to catch up with this person for a few.” The point of this is to break up the pattern, and to give the person in fear a way to get out of the situation. Adlib the conversation. Give a fake name yourself when they ask for yours. If they try to turn the tables on you, flat out tell them that the situation looked uncomfortable and you decided to do something about it. If they seem angered, especially to a point of being flustered/frustrated, you can likely be sure you’ve done the right thing and screwed up their plan.
- Follow it through.
- If you didn’t call the police before, look for a local cop. Inform them of the incident as best you can, with any information you’ve gotten. Include descriptions. If you run across the person you helped, encourage them to report it as well. Consider alerting neighbors, local shop owners, etc.
This may seem silly, and it may feel like you did jump the gun. Perhaps it was innocent. But there’s no harm in simply hopping into a conversation. Read the body language. Look at both people’s eyes. Use your judgement.
Helping someone when there is clear and violent danger
If you are witnessing someone being assaulted, robbed, or shoved around. DO NOT stand there and witness what may be a potential murder. Knowing you could have helped is never going to leave you.
- DO NOT put yourself in danger.
- Call your local emergency number immediately, and follow their instructions.
- Take pictures, if you can safely do so.
- If you think it is safe for you to do so, and the dispatcher doesn’t object, consider shouting at the attacker or causing a ruckus. You want them to stop what they’re doing, but you also want to remain safe yourself.