Survey: 80 percent of women have been harassed while running

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A recent survey showed more than 80 percent of women have been harassed while running.

This harassment can range from catcalls and being followed to assault and sexual assault.

"84% of women have been harassed while running, and 70 % of men have not, so it's a hugely gendered problem," said Taylor Rojeck, editor of Runners World.

To combat this problem, the Runners World and Women's Health teamed up to create the Runners Alliance to advocate for safer running by sharing experience and resources.

Meggie Sullivan, a Central Park Track Club competitive runner, said she was first harassed when she was just 15 years old. She said she noticed a car slow down next to her with a man inside.

"He asked if I would get in the car. I shook my head no. Didn't even engage, and just kept running. Definitely freaked me out, so I completely turned around the other direction," she said.

Sullivan got help, but the Runners Alliance reported that 94% of women say no one helped them after being harassed.

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Sullivan said she was recently victimized in Central Park.

"A man stepped out from behind a tree, and he had a mask on and pulled down his pants and exposed himself to me," she said.

This is often a reason why some women take a break from the sport.

"Women absolutely should not stop running if they are being harassed," Rojeck said. "The Runners Alliance is important to us to make sure that women know that it's never their fault for being harassed."

Despite her previous experience, Sullivan said running makes her feel powerful and strong.

CLICK HERE to find out more about the Runners Alliance, handling harassment, finding safe routes, and using technology to stay safe.

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