As it happens6:41‘The fault is not ours’: women shouldn’t bear the burden of preventing attacks, says runner
Women shouldn’t be afraid to go for a run and it’s not their job to avoid being a target, says American runner Melissa A. Sullivan.
Many female runners speak out about the risks they face from men when exercising, after 34-year-old Tennessee teacher Eliza Fletcher was abducted during a morning run in Memphis September 2nd.
His body was discovered a few days later. A 38-year-old man has been charged with first degree murder in connection with his abduction and death.
Fletcher’s death has once again brought to the fore the safety issues women face when running.
“The first thing that comes to mind is anger, and the second is grief, and I wish I could say shock, but unfortunately, given the experiences I’ve had and talking to other runners , I know being a runner is, in and of itself, a dangerous thing to do,” Sullivan said. As it happens the host Nil Köksal.
A week after Fletcher’s death, thousands of runners held early morning events in cities across the United States to “Finish Eliza’s Run.” Some wore pink tank tops and purple shorts in honor of Fletcher.
An obituary described Fletcher as a “born athlete” who enjoyed being outdoors with her husband and children.
Sullivan wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post in which she describes feeling triumphant after completing the 2018 Marine Corps Marathon, only to be chased by a group of men days later as she ran in the early evening.
Sullivan wore knee-high compression socks, she recalls As it happens, when she passed a group of men outside a convenience store in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
One of the men asked her if she was a football player, because of the socks, and Sullivan said she didn’t want to commit to him, so she looked straight ahead and stood “tall and tall.” confident”.
In the end, if someone wants to hurt us… the fault is not ours.– Melissa A. Sullivan
But his efforts had the opposite effect.
“He was with about three or four other men, and I could hear them starting to talk negatively about me and making it worse,” she said.
“Some swear words were thrown at me because I didn’t respond, and first I felt every hair on the back of my neck stand up and I knew I had to get out of there as quickly as possible.”
Sullivan saw them following her behind her through a park, so she ran to a police station a few blocks away, screaming for help. She said her strategy worked and the men stopped chasing her.
More than one incident
Sullivan recalled another incident, also during a night run, when a man exposed himself and tried to pin her against construction equipment, but she managed to elude him.
“I should be able to go for a run and have peace instead of being accosted, instead of feeling threatened, instead of being chased,” she said.
Sullivan took a self-defense course and followed the advice of running with pepper spray, a flashlight and a whistle. But she says it shouldn’t be up to women to avoid being harassed, threatened and attacked while running.
“At the end of the day, if someone wants to hurt us…the fault is not ours,” she said.
Sullivan said she “made the mistake of reading the comments” on her Washington Post article. As she read comments from many women who shared her feelings, other commenters dismissed the issue, indulged in blaming the victim, or suggested she run with a male companion for protection — a solution she pushed back.
Sullivan understands the thrill of being outdoors and feeling powerful in what your body can do.
“Running is a sacred practice for me,” Sullivan said. “It’s something that brings me peace, it’s grounding, it’s my time of day to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the world. and the hectic nature of my job and the city, and really spending time being in tune with my body.
“I can be quite defiant. And so I refuse to believe that I should have to put on my running shoes because of this type of behavior,” she said.
With files from Associated Press. Interview with Melissa A. Sullivan conducted by Kate Swoger.