By: MCCC Hernandez | Founder of Silk and Steel Self Defense Studio
Urban Covert Surveillance Operation (UCSO) qualified
I’ve survived several stalking incidents since I was a teenager, but the most serious stalker was a known rapist who stalked me for two years after I reported his inappropriate advances, resulting in the loss of his job. This is about how I got away.
Years after the initial incident that resulted in the loss of his job, he reappeared one Sunday while I was with my family. He had enough charm to get people to help him photo and video me, whether I was at church with my family or just in the mall on an errand. I’d catch him following me into a crowd and when I turned to look at him, he’d beeline away or hide, confirming my initial suspicions. I had friends discreetly tag along, confirming the identity of the stalker (that it wasn’t just paranoia) and that he appeared to be armed with a knife or a gun.
I alerted my condo security with his photo so he wouldn’t break into my condo at the time (he’d broken into my previous condo after his resignation). As his photo was being disseminated to the guards, I caught a thin old man who’d seen the photo, glaring at me angrily as he quickly exited the condo complex – another one of his accomplices, showing he already knew where I lived.
After some months of investigation and a few angry confrontations, he acted more boldly. I moved a few cities away, to a new job, and shortly thereafter he followed me onto a bus in Pasay after work although his own job was in Quezon City. He was persistent. And dangerous, should he follow me to somewhere secluded or discover my new residence.
I pushed my sense of panic down with training. I analyzed the situation – he’d followed me from work since he didn’t know my new home yet. I quickly messaged my emergency contacts – a short text of the situation, location, and if I didn’t message again in an hour, to call the police. I skipped my stop and got down at a busy mall. As soon as I hit the sidewalk, I turned 180 degrees and watched every single face who got off the bus after me. He didn’t follow. But I didn’t know if he had any accomplices again among the other passengers, so I decided to ‘get lost’ in the mall.
Like something out of a spy book or movie, I used the escalators and store windows to my advantage, observing my surroundings as I turned to take the escalator or paused to view a display and the reflections in the glass. There were crowds but it was easy to identify if I saw the same outfit in my surroundings too often. Better yet if I could watch the faces discreetly, as stalkers know how to change their appearance to blend in. But so could I.
Satisfied after thirty minutes that I was no longer being followed (closely, at least), I spent my emergency money discreetly on a different outfit, and changed with my purchase in a public restroom. I changed my appearance as completely as I could. Skirt and blouse and heels and messenger bag slung across my body was replaced with jeans and a t-shirt and flip flops with my bags held casually. I removed my hair tie and let my hair down. And after a quick walk about the mall, I jumped into a taxi and headed straight home, triumphant and still alive.
Long story short, my friends photographed him and his accomplices stalking me on various occasions. We went back to the police with this, and had sufficient evidence to file a case. He died of a stroke while the case was ongoing, and the stalking finally ended.