The threat of harassment or assault is never far from the possibility for many women who go about their day.
One Canadian woman avoided a possibly dangerous situation when she sought the company of a group of skaters at a park after being relentlessly pursued by a male stalker for 40 minutes.
Jamie Coutts, a resident in Vancouver, was walking home after leaving a grocery store when she noticed a presence behind her that made her get out her cellphone and hit record.
Jamie Coutts had just finished doing her grocery shopping Wednesday evening and was walking home, when she felt lik… https://t.co/vAJFNIyKkP— CTV News Vancouver (@CTV News Vancouver) 1616232608.0
The footage she captured while on foot around Keefer and Columbia streets in the downtown area showed a man wearing a hood and a mask walking a few steps behind her and even crossing a red light at a crosswalk to avoid losing her.
At one point Coutts stopped to allow for him to pass her, but the man stopped and just "stared" at her.
To test if she was being followed, Coutts walked around the same block several times. The man remained walking behind her.
"I was walking as fast as I could," Coutts said.
@VancouverSun Situations like this is the reason I have 2 phones. One to record and the other to call for help. Eve… https://t.co/UCJOTUq1cf— Sherry Masztalar (@Sherry Masztalar) 1616193454.0
She told him he was walking too close to her, but her comment elicited no response from him.
Fortunately, she came upon a skate park and asked a group of skaters sitting on a bench:
"Do you mind if I sit with you guys? This guy's literally been following me in circles for like 40 minutes, and I'm recording it."
Another female was seen in the group with two other male skaters who did not hesitate to accommodate Coutts.
When they made room for her to join them, the stranger eventually gave up his pursuit and walked away from the park.
You can watch the video, below.
the anxiety i got watching this https://t.co/WMn7KdqWX6— Drue Konings (@Drue Konings) 1616140015.0
Coutts posted the footage to Instagram, where it went viral and prompted other women to reach out and indicate they too were followed by the same man seen in the video.
Dara Parker told CTV News she believed she was followed by the same man while she and her partner were taking their dog out for a walk back in October.
After recognizing the man in Coutts' video, Parker recalled her experience.
"It was really creepy. He just kept following us."
"I'm just so disappointed by the comments on social media, but especially disappointed by people who are critiquing and dismissing a woman who both in the moment was trying to secure her safety and other people."
"When you're in an emergency situation, your judgment is compromised."
Coutts said she filed a police report of the incident once she felt safe.
@P0K3Z0M813 @VancouverSun Because the police are society's cleanup crew. They'll send someone out but won't do muc… https://t.co/WpzPCvS2n6— blifflesplick (@blifflesplick) 1616444166.0
My fellow female Vancouverites, pls be extra careful when this happens upon u. Stay calm & get help asap. Knowing y… https://t.co/BhZK9rIpmF— 🇨🇦Ming Lee🇭🇰 (@🇨🇦Ming Lee🇭🇰) 1616132725.0
Angela Marie MacDougall, director of Battered Women's Support Services said:
"I think in this circumstance, we saw a woman being very resourceful, both by creating evidence, but also creating a witness. It is not to be taken lightly, at all."
"The stats tell us, and we've had some research in Canada within the last 10 years, where at least 80 women and girls have experienced being followed by a stranger."
"It is an ongoing reminder of just how much gender-based violence is happening."
Vancouver police told Coutts they found the person of interest after he was assaulting another woman.
But after arriving at the station to identify the suspect, Coutts did not recognize him and confirmed he was not the same man.
A Vancouver woman who was followed for more than half an hour by a man last week says a person of interest identifi… https://t.co/n3K43vieuz— Celeste George (@Celeste George) 1616366430.0
Vancouver. We must find this man. He must be turned in. Vancouver woman films alleged stalker following her for 30… https://t.co/DDlEvKMF6r— Andrew Airlie (@Andrew Airlie) 1616164407.0
Coutts told Global News she is not afraid to show her face and speak out for the missing and murdered victims who no longer have a voice.
She also expressed concern people might let their guard down after believing the police have apprehended her stalker which is not the case.
"People think that the man who followed me was arrested, and I want people to keep their eyes open and keep looking because I, unfortunately, am not going to feel safe until he's found."
Vancouver Police Sergeant Steve Addison confirmed an investigation looking into the incident was ongoing.
"This is very concerning," said Addison.