How about we take back the afternoons, first?

Last week an article appeared in The Vancouver Sun headlined, "Naked man in a gorilla mask tries to assault jogger on popular Vancouver Island trail."

The immediate first reaction might be to laugh at the image of a man running naked through a park wearing nothing but a gorilla mask, but the story is far from funny.

I can't imagine the terror this woman faced when this man ran at her, grabbed her around the leg and began molesting her. According to the story, she fought him off and ran away, but he managed to catch up. Thankfully, she had the wherewithal to begin screaming and got away from him once more, eventually flagging down other joggers who brought her to safety and phoned the police.

The story reads more like a script from a horror movie than a newspaper article, and it's unsettling on so many levels.

As is far too often the case, despite an "exhaustive" search and the help of a police dog, the suspect got away and the public (though the warning is pretty much restricted to women) was advised to run with a partner or group and keep music turned low so as to always hear someone approaching.

Should my husband choose to go for a late afternoon run, all he has to avoid is traffic and dog turds.

When I go running - regardless of time of day - the route is planned with care: Populated areas only, and solo trail running is not an option. There's no trek through Kenna Cartwright Park. Heck, I don't even venture through the Nature Trail on McArthur Island.

I've heard some people run through Peterson Creek Park, but I'll never do it. As reporters, we all have those stories we can't forget. I wrote one such story in 2002 about a 20-year-old woman who was sexually assaulted while walking alone on a well-used path in Peterson Creek Park. The attack happened in the middle of the afternoon on a sunny day in June. The attacker was soon caught as he sported intricate tattoos that covered most of his face and neck.

I was 24-years-old when I wrote the story, and I'll always remember how I felt as I did. Scared. She could have been me, and to this day I behave differently.

As young women we're given whistles to blow should someone attempt to rape us, and we enrol in self-defence courses.

When I was 20, my dad presented me with a tiny, purse-sized can of bear spray and instructed me on how to use it. At the time, the gesture didn't carry much significance. Looking back, however, I can appreciate how anxious my dad must have been. He couldn't follow me around fighting off potential attackers, but he felt he had to do something, and I suppose bear spray was his answer.

We're told that stranger rape is uncommon and unlikely. We're told that rapists don't wear signs, and don't look like monsters - they look like our husbands, uncles and stepdads.

But then we open up the newspaper and read about the man with the tattooed face, or the gorilla-masked rapist and we shudder. These are the monsters from every woman's nightmare.

Scarier yet, we have grown to accept this victimization as a fact of life. We arm ourselves the best we can, with whistles, bear spray and big dogs. We run in groups, and we hope our luck holds.

Every year we get together to Take Back the Night, but frankly, I'd settle for taking back the afternoons.

Danna Bach is an associate editor. Follow her on Twitter, @DannaBach.

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