The month-long search for Mollie Tibbetts came to a tragic end this week when investigators located the 20-year-old’s body in a cornfield near her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa. Tibbetts, who was set to start her sophomore year at the University of Iowa this week, was last seen jogging on the evening of July 18.
Investigators say they solved the case through security footage of Tibbetts going on a run, which lead them to the owner of a Chevy Malibu: Cristhian Bahena Rivera. In a story that probably sounds familiar to any woman who has gone running alone, the 24-year-old farm worker reportedly confessed to following Tibbetts, saying he was inexplicably “drawn” to her and that after he exited his car to run alongside her, Tibbetts threatened to call the police — which made him angry. After that, investigators say Rivera told them, he “blacked out” and woke up later to find her dead in his car.
Since the news of Rivera’s confession broke, women have taken to social media to share their stories of harassment while running. Some are long, harrowing threads. Some are in response to media outlets suddenly discovering some women are afraid to run alone. But all of them are painful to read, and a stark reminder that women can’t do many simple things without feeling unsafe.
Many shared their fears around running alone, and the steps they take to avoid being bothered, like pretending to talk on the phone, or carrying pepper spray.
Next y'all are gonna tell me that dudes don't pretend to talk to someone on the phone when a man nearby makes them nervous
— Dawn (@502eire) August 24, 2018
Once a car passed me 2x while I was on a remote road near my house. I had pepper spray & my phone & I still picked up a softball-sized stone and ran w/ it bc it made me feel safer. I ended up pulling a muscle in my shoulder & was sore the rest of the week but I'd do it again
— amy gesenhues (@amygesenhues) August 24, 2018
I do go running alone.
I am also very, very aware of my surroundings and the people in them.
I don't always enjoy running with someone, and I refuse to spend my life afraid.
— trips over own feet (@TheyCallMeKate) August 24, 2018
1. If you can, get a buddy to run with. If not, make sure you ALWAYS tell someone you’re going for a run
— Jobie Alvarez (@JobieAlvarez137) August 25, 2018
5. Every so often, check behind you. If you notice the same person has been behind you for some time, you should switch to the opposite side of the road and slow down (or stop and "tie you shoes") until the person passes. Hopefully the person doesn’t also switch to the same side
— Jobie Alvarez (@JobieAlvarez137) August 25, 2018
Some just don’t run alone, or after dark. Often, it’s because they’ve been harassed or worse.
I won’t run or cycle alone because of safety. Having to be hyper aware of surroundings is exhausting.
— Sarah Clevenger (@Sarah_Clev) August 25, 2018
Thirty years ago I learned that running alone, even in a park with many others around, is not safe. 🙁
— MuchOlderFlowerChild (@robjeny) August 24, 2018
I have had men yell at me while running and one time a homeless man reached out and pushed me. Now I’m afraid to run alone. I always run with a group or on a treadmill because situations like this DO happen to women every day
— sarah (@ThatSmorez) August 25, 2018
In 20+ years of running, I was physically assaulted, catcalled, called every ugly name men call women, had apples, beer bottles, etc., thrown at me, was swerved at by cars–all by men. My only bad encounter with a female was when I ran into a cow on a foggy morning. My fault.
— deborah england (@DCEngland) August 24, 2018
Men weighed in too, mostly to share that they don’t have those fears. A few scolded women, with one writing women need to “learn to find a friend of family member to run with,” and blamed Mollie Tibbetts for her own death.
This is terrible. As a guy, I’ve been running (often alone) for thirty years and have never been bothered by anyone, ever.
— Erik Heitfield (@EHeitfield) August 25, 2018
It doesn't matter who killed her, Mollie Tibbetts shouldn't have been running alone in the first place.
Women need to learn to find a friend or family member to run with, or get themselves a treadmill.
— Ryan Mondoley (@ryanfncool) August 25, 2018
Many women responded with anger (and sarcasm) to a tweet from CNN, about a story the outlet published with a social media headline reading, “A startling number of women say they have been harassed while running.” That number is 70% and is not news to half of the country (women).
This…is not news to women, cnn
— DrShark 🏳️🌈 (@DrShark) August 24, 2018
I was gonna say, regardless of the reason, I’ve never met a woman who hasn’t been harassed in some way or form while jogging/running/working out.
— Nuria from Narnia (@Rednuria) August 24, 2018
BREAKING: @CNN selects a dude to write a story about women being harassed; dude gobsmacked at data that well over half the population already know.
— Anna Maltese 🏹 (@MalteseAnna) August 24, 2018
It’s not startling if you’ve been listening to what women have been saying for years.
— Jay (@jrasz) August 24, 2018
I guarantee you what happened to Mollie began as a wolf whistle or a catcall and then escalated into violence when she told him to leave her alone.
— Little Wifey 👰🏻💍 (@LittleLady_80) August 24, 2018
And one man provided the perfect response, explaining in a tweet that solution to this issue is to teach men to respect women who are going about their daily lives.
Mollie Tibbetts was murdered while out running because she dared tell a man to leave her alone. He happened to be an immigrant.
The problem is violent masculinity, not immigration.
The solution is to teach our boys to be more respectful men, not to build a wall.
— Ian McConnell (@IanMcConnell) August 23, 2018
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