INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – As new details emerge about Mollie Tibbetts, safety experts said there are some lessons that can be taken away, especially for female runners.
Tibbetts was on an evening run by herself in a rural area in Iowa when police say someone attacked her. But Tibbetts may have been running while taking risks. Now, Bulletproof Women's Self Defense owner Leah Severson hopes female runners are paying attention to her story.
"It just takes a minute for someone to grab you if no one’s around," she said.
According to a Runners World survey, 43 percent of women who took the survey said they've been harassed while running. Thirty percent of women said they've been followed by someone in a car, on a bicycle, or on foot.
"There are four things that increase your risk of becoming a victim. They are darkness, isolation, being alone, and lack of attention. So each one of those that you add to the equation, the less safe you are," said Severson.
If you are being followed, Severson said it's time to act, not threaten to act. In Mollie's case, the suspect told police Mollie took out her cell phone and threatened to call 911.
Severson said there's a better strategy.
"You’re better off learning self-defense and fighting back. But to stop and dial 911 is probably one of the least effective things they can do."
Residents in Iowa also said they would see Mollie take a jog three to four times a week. Severson urged runners to change their routes and times so they don't fall into a pattern anyone can figure out.
Carrying something with you like pepper spray doesn't hurt, but Severson doesn't recommend it since the spray can backfire during an attack. That's why she recommends taking a self-defense class so you know how to defend yourself using your body.
"There are some basic simple things that everybody no matter what size can perform against another person and injure them in a way that can get them to stop what they’re doing," she said. “So the lesson is, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a small town in Iowa or a big city, you need to have your own safety measure in place.”
There are plenty of self-defense schools across Indianapolis like Severson's if you want to take a class. In Columbus, the police department still has several spots open for its self-defense classes. For more info, click here.