A TikTok mom is being labeled “hysterical” online after recounting the time she reprimanded a stranger for approaching her in a parking lot.
A clip detailing the encounter amassed 1.9 million views online as commenters debated whether her reaction was justified.
“I’m literally shaking right now,” a breathless Danielle Mitchell — who posts marriage and parenting tips under the handle @living.transparently — described in the video, which shows her sitting in her car on the day of the alleged run-in.
In the clip, the mother described how she was “alone” with her son in the parking lot when a male approached her and said, “Excuse me, Miss.”
“I didn’t know why in the hell he was approaching me or what he was trying to do,” continued the TikToker. She explained that the man was probably “30 feet” away when he addressed her.
Without waiting to hear what the man wanted, Mitchell decided to make a preemptive move. “I turned around and I literally yelled at him and I said, ‘Do not approach me,’” she declared.
Mitchell’s outburst reportedly caused the stranger to “immediately start going in the other direction,” per the clip. All the while, she said, she kept imperiously repeating this command “over and over.”
At one point, the stranger asked what her “problem” was, before resuming his retreat. “He crossed a couple cars down from my car and he didn’t come anywhere near me,” she explained, adding that he started “cussing” at her.
She then doubled down on her over-the-top-seeming warning, declaring: “I say ‘You do not approach women in a parking lot.’”
In a follow-up video, the mother explained that she learned this defensive move in Gavin De Becker’s 2000 book “Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane).”
The book “shatters widely held myths about danger and safety and helps parents find some certainty about life’s highest-stakes questions,” per the description. These include tips on spotting “sexual predators” and teaching children about risk without “causing too much fear.”
Mitchell, for one, believes it’s always better to be safe than sorry. “No male should ever approach a woman in a parking lot,” she concluded in the initial vid. “And if a male does approach you, you need to turn around and use the strongest voice that you can possibly use with them.”
She added, “Don’t be polite, they should literally screw off.”
Commenters found her response a bit overzealous, with one appalled poster writing, “Isn’t it a little hysterical?”
“Omg, do you react with all men like that,” inquired another, while one concerned netizen wrote, “you have absolutely lost the plot.”
One declared that her preemptive reprimand is how innocent people wind up in jail.
“This was a little extra. How do you know he wasn’t trying to tell you something?” inquired one flabbergasted viewer, to which Mitchell replied, “He wasn’t.”
Some commenters provided alleged personal anecdotes illustrating why one should never jump to conclusions when a stranger approaches. “A lady did that to me once and I understood her concern,” recounted one. “I then did not tell her about the gas hose hanging from her car.”
Meanwhile, one TikTok wit quipped, “I was going to approach a woman in the parking lot but I decided not to so she drove away with her baby on the roof.”
Interestingly, some internet denizens sympathized with Mitchell’s methods of avoiding potential stranger danger. “Better to ‘overreact’ and live than be ‘polite’ and end up dead,” advised conservative pundit Mike Cernovich above a retweet of the mom’s viral video. “Predators rely on people being ‘nice.’ No man has business going up to a woman in a parking lot. If she dropped something, he can yell to her GO TO LOST AND FOUND.”
Fellow right-wing personality Ashley St. Claire also defended Mitchell’s tactics, writing: “Lot of people hating on her but I get it. Had a normal-looking guy whip out his gonads to me in the middle of the street walking alone.”
“You have enough weirdos approach you and your first instinct becomes aggression for self-preservation — especially with her kid there,” she said.
In response to critics, Mitchell posted a follow-up video to provide some “much-needed context” for her actions.
“You guys just think I scream at guys in parking lots for fun and that is not the case,” she insisted. “That has never happened to me before and I hope it never happens to me again.”
Mitchell said she was in a mall parking lot that was “completely dead” and that the stranger was the “sketchiest-looking guy” she had ever seen in her “entire life.”
“I think he was trying to ask people for money because then he proceeded to walk down the rest of the parking lot looking for people to ask,” she claimed.
As Mitchell didn’t have any form of protection, she said, she didn’t want to let him get anywhere near her to where he could “knock me out and rob me.”
She also clarified that the guy “definitely” wasn’t trying to help her as she hadn’t dropped anything and was buckling her son into his car seat.
“In general, I’m not a super paranoid person, I don’t scare easily,” Mitchell claimed. “My husband has actually had to tell me ‘You need to take a little more precautions because there are bad people in this world.’”
“I did what I needed to do to protect myself and my son and if that was an overreaction, then so be it,” she declared.
Mitchell’s rebuttal did little to change the minds of the TikTok commentariat, who felt some of her details didn’t add up.
“It wasn’t really dead though was it, there was plenty of cars around you and one driving away,” observed one viewer, referencing her initial video.
Another wrote, “U said the mall was dead and then proceeded to say he went to ask other people on the parking lot.”
“You judge a book by its cover, just because you say someone looks scary,” summed up another.
This isn’t the first time one of Mitchell’s videos has divided the internet. This past summer, the mom-fluencer sparked a raging debate online after allegedly rushing home early because she caught the baby-sitter napping on the nannycam after putting their kid to bed.
Many commenters found the parent whisperer’s actions a bit paranoid given that the baby was asleep at the time while others declared that sitters should never zonk out on the job.