GREENSBORO, N.C. — Greensboro Police say a 53-year-old woman was assaulted on September 14 on the Greenway by the Forest Lawn Cemetery.
It happened in the evening, but it was still light out.
WFMY News 2 spoke to the woman who was attacked, who wants to remain anonymous. But she wants to share her story to warn other women exercising alone.
She said the attack happened in a split second. She says the suspect came up behind her and started grabbing around her waist. She believes he was trying to steal from her.
"It was a man and I think he was looking for money he was lifting up my shirt and looking around my waist to see if I had any kind of bag or anything."
She says she was afraid to look her attacker in the eyes, but she does know it was a man.
"I was feeling very afraid, I was feeling out of control, and helpless."
He wasn't able to get away with anything, but she says he pushed her to the ground. She says she cried and had a panic attack for an unknown amount of time, paralyzed with fear.
Two bicyclists passing by the Forest Lawn Cemetery area noticed she was in distress.
"I don’t know how long I laid there crying but a lady and her dad were riding bikes she asked if I was OK and when I didn’t answer they called police for me."
She says she has some soreness, but physically she's OK. Mentally? she is still shaken.
"I felt violated and I'm angry that someone can use their power to make someone feel so vulnerable and I just hope that he never does this to anyone else."
The victim says she's been exercising on the Greenway for eight years, and doesn't know if she'll be able to go back.
"That makes me sad because it was a very special place for me, to just enjoy being outside and feel safe and I feel like that’s been taken from me, so it will probably be a while before I get back."
She wanted to share her story to warn others: be aware of your surroundings, because this suspect is still out there.
"I just hope that he never does this to anyone else," she said. "I definitely will l be carrying pepper spray or something with me from now on," she continued.
WFMY News 2 spoke with many runners on the Greenway about safety. Here's what they had to say:
"I always walk in a group and I don't wear headphones," one mom that regulars the Greenway said.
"If there is someone behind me like, a man or two, I'll veer off on another trail," one runner said.
"I carry mace and pepper spray with me usually," another said. "It's easily accessible and if anyone attacks me I’m more prone to ward them off."
Tips from officials:
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Listen to your music on low volume
- Exercise with pepper spray or mace
- Avoid unpopulated areas
- Change your route periodically
- Exercise with a friend or in groups