Situational Awareness For Everyone & Personal Safety Education - SAFESavesLives

Who’s Watching Nancy?

A Routine Occurrence – Bad Behavior

Having a routine is important for a smooth and functional life but sometimes it can be detrimental to our safety when we fail to pay attention to those who are paying attention to us.

A situation that occurs to almost every woman is one similar to our fictional character of Nancy. Nancy loves to jog at a state park every morning before work. She enjoys running at this particular park because it’s clean and there aren’t many people there in the mornings. She feels safe and although she is a cautious person she doesn’t worry about the blue truck she sees almost every morning around the same time, assuming it’s a park worker or maintenance truck. 

Weeks go by and she has missed a few mornings but makes up for it in the late evenings after work. At that time the park is a little busier but not too crowded. Nancy usually carries mace or a stun gun but leaves it in her car while running since she is familiar with the area. 

On this particular day, Nancy feels she should bring her cell phone with her hoping some music will help with her anxiety. As she begins to jog, an eerie feeling sets in and she looks over her shoulder a few times to check her surroundings. She pushes through the second half of her run and hears someone to her left shout and wave to get her attention. Nancy stops and a tall, slender man with brown hair and a flannel jacket approaches her. Nancy is automatically alarmed since she is alone in a park, after dark with nothing to protect herself. As he gets closer, he mentions that his dog got off the leash and asks if she saw it anywhere. Nancy shrugs.“Sorry I haven’t seen him.” She starts to jog off and politely wishes him good luck. She notices him not far behind her and is so unsettled by him that she takes a shortcut back to her car. 

A Likely Story – Be Aware of Dishonest Behavior

The next day, Nancy gets off work early but feels discouraged from running because yesterday’s experience is still fresh. Instead, she decides to go to the mall. While en route, she notices a blue truck following her. She thinks she’s seen the truck before but isn’t too sure.

 Nancy parks in the second-floor garage for easy access to the department store. The mall closes in an hour and a half, but she knows her shopping trip won’t take long. The store attendant is friendly and quickly helps her find exactly what she is looking for. As Nancy turns to exit the store she thinks about asking the security guard to walk her to her car but reconsiders since her car is so close.

While quickly darting to her car, someone approaches her from behind. She quickly jumps to turn around, so startled she can’t even scream. “Sorry to scare you, miss,” the man says. Nancy immediately recognizes him from the park. He leans in for a hug from her and she quickly backs away closer to her car. 

A Living Nightmare Can Be Prevented With Behavior Analysis Training

The man begins to remove his flannel shirt. “Look, I want you to have this. I can’t stop thinking about you.” Nancy continues to back up in shock and manages to get in her car. She quickly locks the door and aggressively reverses out of the parking space. As Nancy exits the parking garage, she vows to never leave protection in the car and commits to finding a new park to jog in. Frantic and upset, she phones the police to let them know what just happened but realizes she can’t give them any information about the man besides the color of his car and some physical features. Nancy cries as she feels helpless and wishes she had been a lot more alert in the previous weeks.

Nancy listened to her intuition and took some precautions, but more situational awareness and attention to her surroundings would have helped. People-watching is vital in knowing who is around and their patterns of behavior. Nancy could have benefited from switching up her routine and asking for protection when it was available. These two strategies would have made her less accessible to her stalker.


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