Women share stories of harassment in the Ozarks

By  | 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. There's a very good chance a woman you know has faced down obnoxious and potentially dangerous harassment on a walk or run.

It's a love, a passion and a hobby for Stephanie Davenport. But, Davenport adds, "I try to ignore the yells... "

Numerous women told us they get hassled, intimidated and harassed when walking, running and biking in the Ozarks.

Stephanie recalls one incident, "It was a truck of some kind, a big engine rev, a yell and, then an explosion from the firecracker. It didn't hit us... It was at our backs which made it even more scary."

Again, if you think Stephanie Davenport's story is an isolated incident, just ask a female runner. We did. We talked to a number of women in this group of women learning The Galloway Run/Walk/Run Training method.

Gisele Bauman told us, "There was a truck that passed me with 2 men in it... and shortly after they passed me they turned on the road right behind me... (and came back)."

Zoanne Cofer recalled, "I've had them come by and turn around and come back by... "

Gisele added, "I can certainly only speak from the perspective of a woman. But, it's incredibly frightening. Because you don't know whether that's going to escalate... whether that's going to turn into a legitimate threat or if it's just somebody being frankly... stupid."

Need more examples? KY3's Paul Adler asked about it on Facebook. Here's what one woman wrote, "I've had sexual comments thrown at me. Cigarette butts tossed at me. Cars try to drive as closely as possible to scare me."

Another woman commented, "Men yell disgusting sexual comments, and when I tried to ignore them, they got louder and more aggressive."

Gisele says, "I'd first ask them why? I've never understood why anybody feels like it's necessary to harass somebody who is just out trying to enjoy themselves or better themselves.. "

Really, why is this happening in Springfield and around the Ozarks.? We asked clinical psychologist Dr. Jennifer Baker to help us understand... what's going on here?

Dr. Jennifer Baker notes, "Some people feel they are compelled to say something... which they don't need to say. So, they have poor impulse control. Some people just have bad manners."

The reality these women face means many don't feel safe running alone or they pack something most men don't.

Paul Adler reports, "Nearly every female runner I talked to carried some form of protection. It might be mace, a Taser or even a gun."

Stephanie Davenport wants men in nearby vehicles to ask one question; Would you say that stuff to your mom?

Stephanie says, "As females, we're sisters, we're moms, we're daughters, how would you feel if somebody did that to a female in your life?"

We asked everyone -- from a running store owner -- to other athletes about ways to stay safe.

Here's some of the advice:
*Run in a group when you can. You can find safety in numbers.
*Sign up for a runner tracking app like Garmin LiveTrack or Strava Beacon. That way friends and relatives can track your current location.
*Also, stay in busy areas within shouting distance of other people who could help you.
*And, switch up your routes to be less predictable.