The absolute worst outcome of street harassment is murder.
Police aren’t entirely sure if the murder of a 53 year old woman named Wendy Ladner-Beaudry who was running in Vancouver was random (form of street harassment) or targeted. But chances are, the fact that she was a woman running alone in a park made her assailant feel more able to or justified in attacking her…
A fellow woman runner wrote a poignant article in the Vancouver Sun about Wendy”s tragic murder and what that means to her as a female runner in that area. Excerpt:
“I know there is truth that random acts can happen anywhere at any time and that I should not be stymied and let cowardly predators win. I know this. I also know my husband will not change his habits when he runs in the park. His gender gives him the freedom to go alone at any time of the day.
This loss of a runner-in-arms has inspired fear. This loss of freedom I reluctantly accept because I love living more than I love running.
I will get a whistle. And I will purchase them for my running buddies.
I will go running this weekend with my girlfriends in the park.
I will not go in those woods alone to run.
My ears will prickle when I am there. Listening for a predator.
I will hear the woodpecker on Sasamat trail because I will not have my iPod.
I will look at the guests in the park with a keen eye.
I will not go at dawn or dusk.”
Just like the attack on a female runner in New York City earlier this year, the attacker hasn’t been found, so that certainly would add to my fear were I a runner in that area. It’s very difficult to make sense out of a tragedy like this and hard not to want to recoil in reaction and self preservation. And I think she’s right, her husband and other men probably will not alter their lives, but women runners may – if they weren’t already making such alterations – out of fear of being the wrong woman at the wrong place at the wrong time. What a shame.
Update: I found another article with more info about Wendy, including an interview with her husband:
“As well as being a high-performance athlete most of her life, Beaudry said, his wife was a dedicated volunteer, helping women at a local food bank get running shoes so they could participate in an annual charity run.
He said his wife made daily solo runs in Pacific Spirit Park.
‘She always went in there knowing she was a woman and had to be careful, and that there were risks. This was not someone who went into anything blindly.’
His wife would have been the first one to organize a run in the park after such a killing to show her lack of intimidation, Beaudry said.”