What Most Men Don’t Understand About Living in Fear
I shouldn’t have to worry about my safety every time I go for a run
I crave the ability to feel at ease in public spaces.
As a runner, there are countless times I find myself alone. I actually prefer it that way; running with a partner or group doesn’t grant me the quiet time to be with my thoughts and get what I need from my workout. But running alone as a woman is a constant trade-off. How much do I value my safety? And how much do I want to avoid being harassed, or worse?
There is no shortage of instances in which women have been harassed, followed, assaulted, or murdered while simply living their lives. I don’t need to paint the picture with statistics — there are sadly far too many cases that showcase the spectrum of what might happen every day when I walk out the door.
There is one case in particular that had a particularly deep effect on me: Mollie Tibbetts, the University of Iowa student who went missing last summer after going out for an evening run. Her body was found after a five-week search. I’ve taken a summer evening run oh, I don’t know… about a million times.
Maybe it was the fact that I was in Iowa while the search for Molly was being conducted, or that I saw something of myself in her, but it spooked me nonetheless. Not long after, a woman was fatally stabbed in Washington, D.C. while running near Logan Circle. It unsettled me even more.
The most fearful I’ve ever been while running was during a long run the first winter after I moved back to Kansas City. I was running on a paved bike trail alone and without headphones, as usual. The trail was peaceful and serene, cleared of snow and ice, and I was enjoying it. I felt good.
I felt good, that is, until a man on a bicycle approached from behind and started trailing me. He attempted to start a conversation with me multiple times, and despite my silence or curt, one-word responses, he persisted. He wanted to know where I was going, where I had come from, where I lived, whether I had a boyfriend, and what I was doing later that day. It was creepy AF — and even if I wasn’t being followed while running alone, his persistent questioning would have creeped me out.