Sarah Hart of Jamestown, KY left on a run with her sister and decided to turn back before they were finished. She told her sister to keep going. On her way back to the car some low-life, murdering, scumbag robbed her, and dragged her body into the weeds a few yards from the road. The police have a suspect in custody, but Sarah is dead. Her husband and three children are now without a wife and mother.
If you're a runner you likely remember the story of Sherry Arnold, the Montana school teacher who was kidnapped and murdered while out for an early morning solo run in January. Even if you're not a runner, you probably heard the story. That one made the national news after two men were arrested and confessed to the crime. It stayed in the news for the more than two months it took to discover her body.
Think you're safe because you don't live in a high-crime, highly populated area?
The 2010 Census shows Sarah's Jamestown, KY has a population of 1794. Statistics show you're chance of being a violent crime victim in Jamestown is less than half your chances of being a victim in Kentucky. Sidney, MT, where Sherry was abducted had a population of 5191 in the latest census. You're almost 4 times as likely to be a victim of a violent crime in the state of Montana as you are in Sidney.
Please pray for the families of these ladies, that they may find peace and strength in time. It's a sad, sad thing that our society has devolved to this state of depravity where women can't even venture onto streets in their own neighborhoods without fear of being attacked and killed. I hate it for you ladies.
Now the question is, how can you keep yourself from being a victim?
The simple truth is there is no 100% certain thing you can do to guarantee no nutcase, deviant, low-life criminal will mark you for attack. However, there are things you can do, precautions you can take, to minimize your risk of falling prey to these scumbags.
Shut Up + Run has a great post covering this with lots of great tips for minimizing risks. I won't try to list them all here, but I am going to suggest a few of what I consider to be the most valuable.
NOTE: I usually try to keep politics out of this blog, but this topic is going to carry us into a discussion about guns. I don't mean to offend anyone, but I believe the danger warrants that discussion. You don't have to agree with my position and I want you to feel free to offer your alternative ideas in the comments. If you do, please be respectful of each other in any disagreements.Whenever possible, don't run alone! It sounds simple, but all of you who run know it's not. It's just not always possible to align our schedule with another when we're ready to lace up our running shoes. Even so, there's no reason you have to always run alone. Join a local running club, find someone else who shares your love of running, do something to at least have running buddies with you on some of your runs. Even though it looks like these two cases were spur-of-the-moment crimes of opportunity, don't give a would-be attacker the chance to stalk you and know when you're going to be out running alone.
Arm yourself (If you're sure you can handle it.) This is where we're likely to chafe some folks. Ladies, in my opinion it's okay to take the life of one of these low-life, subhuman creatures if they are threatening your life. Your husband, your children, your parents, and everyone else close to you do not deserve the Hell of grieving your death. When a criminal chooses to threaten the life of a would-be victim, he has made the decision that the risk is worth whatever he considers the potential reward. That risk includes his own death!
Now, here's the kicker...the "if you can handle it" part.
Don't make the mistake some do of thinking they can carry a gun to scare off a potential attacker. Before you ever choose to carry a gun, when you run or any other time for personal defense, you need to answer the following question correctly..."Can I take the life of another human being?" If you can't answer yes to that question, you have no business carrying a gun.
If you think you can pull a gun to frighten an attacker, or to wound him, you're more likely to get it taken away and used on you. The plain and simple truth is that you never have any business pulling a gun on someone you are not prepared and willing to kill. If you can't bear the thought of taking a life, or even if you're not sure that you can pull the trigger and take a life when the time comes, don't carry.
However, if you are certain you value your life more than you do one of these criminal cowards, then by all means arm yourself.
Keep out of arm's reach Of strangers that is.
Especially if you spot a suspicious person or vehicle, but even when approaching or passing an unknown runner on the road or trail, avoid getting so close that one swift motion can result in your capture. It might mean crossing the street, it might mean taking an unplanned turn, or even swinging wide off the trail or road. But, if it takes an attacker more than one or two steps to get to you, it gives you time to react.
Communicate Strength and Confidence The most effective way to accomplish this is to make direct eye contact with those you meet on the trail. Glancing down or avoiding looking a would be attacker tells him you are afraid, weak, or lack confidence. In other words, you'd make a pretty easy target. Cowardly criminals are like schoolhouse bullies. They like to target those least likely to resist. They know how to spot them by their body language. Even if you're scared to death, don't let it show.
RUN! What I mean here is if your attacker is brandishing a weapon, and doesn't have you in his grasp. A lot of people freeze when they see a gun or a knife, and Hollywood convinces most that anyone with a weapon in their hands is as efficient and effective as a trained assassin. The reality couldn't be farther from the truth. MOST people are unlikely to hit a moving target, even at very close range. Unless they're holding the weapon against your body, you have a better chance of survival by running than you'll ever have once you place yourself in the hands of your attacker.
This will work best if you've thought about it beforehand. As you're running, try to identify the best places to run to if you encounter an attacker. Look for the quickest route to get yourself in front of witnesses before the time comes. If you do this enough, you'll get to the point where you do it unconciously. Instinct takes over and it's no longer something you'll have to work at.
"Do not be far from me, my God; come quickly, God, to help me." -- Psalm 71:12Pray! Last but most important of all. Remember that Jesus Christ hears our prayers. Pray for safety. Pray for guidance. Pray for wisdom. Even when you run. I pray all the time when I'm running alone. It's a great time to find those moments when it's just you and the Lord, a great opportunity to seek His will and hear His voice.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." -- Jeremiah 29:11Runners are runners, whether male or female, and the need to run will likely override rational or irrational fear of what may happen on the road or trail. It's just what we do, maybe even the essential expression of our very freedom. Just because a few worthless pieces of scum are in search of victims doesn't mean runners stop running.
Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed - else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die. ~Dwight D. EisenhowerSo don't give up what you love and crawl into a hole to hide. Keep running. Don't let these lowlifes rob you of your very freedom. Just be careful and stay safe!
If you have other ideas to help the ladies stay safe on the run, please share them in the comments below.
If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.