Woman's 'terrifying' encounter with stranger highlights fears of walking alone

Mikayla Gradara, from Adelaide, was walking her usual trail when she had the scary encounter with a man.

(left) Mikayla Gradara sitting on lounge smiling. (Right) Mikayla Gradara wearing activewear standing next to white building.
Mikayla Gradara, 26, was on her usual walking trail in Adelaide when she had the scary encounter with a man. Source: Instagram/mikaylagradara

A young woman has detailed her terrifying encounter with a man while on her morning walk, issuing a warning to others of the dangers women face while out in public alone.

Since news broke of Samantha Murphy's disappearance earlier this year, women across Australia have admitted to feeling scared to go running alone regardless of the time of day, even in familiar neighbourhoods, with Mikayla Gradara's experience once again highlighting the safety concerns of females.

The 26-year-old from Adelaide said she was on her "usual morning walk" at 7am on a popular trail. There were people around, but still, an unwanted encounter left her on edge.

"I encountered a situation where a guy was intimidating me and wouldn't stop after I asked him to," she revealed on Instagram. She claimed the man was "behaving aggressively" and began "walking towards me" before "blocking the trail so I couldn't walk around him".

"He then started bouncing on his feet as though he was in a boxing ring before he came up right into my face … I said to him: 'Can you please stop', but then he jolted at me in a really intimidating movement, she said, according to The Advertiser.

Fearing for her safety, Gradara raised her voice to the man, drawing attention from passersby. "I was absolutely terrified. I thought: ‘Okay, well if he pulls out a weapon then I probably won’t be able to defend myself," she said.

(Left) screen shot from Mikayla Gradara's Instagram showing walking track. (Right) Mikayla Gradara smiling wearing black top.
Mikayla urged other women to 'be aware' of their surroundings when out alone. Source: Instagram/mikaylagradara

Warning for women to 'be aware' of surroundings

Sharing her ordeal on social media, the 26-year-old said she is "grateful" people were around, but said "this shouldn't be happening and there needs to be a stop," according to the publication.

"People should be able to freely exercise, go out, socialise etc without having to worry about their safety. Be aware of those around you," she warned.

The South Australian said the ordeal has left her "watching my back" admitting "even the slightest noise has me constantly turning around" — and her feelings are shared by thousands of women across the country

'Unfair' reality Aussie women face

Last month, a woman named Georgia shared her thoughts on social media while going for a run. She admitted it's "incredibly unfair" to have to think about "taking precautions" every time women leave the house alone.

"Men don't have to make those decisions unless they're running in a really dangerous area. But it's something we have to do every day to have this level of protection of ourselves, especially when we're on our own early in the morning when there's not that many people around," she said.

Meanwhile, City of Ballarat councillor and avid runner Samantha McIntosh admitted women are forced to change how they stay active following the Samantha Murphy tragedy. Running in pairs and always having a mobile phone handy is what women feel they must do just to make it back home unharmed, she warned.

"It makes me feel really sad, because there's so many barriers for women and girls to be active," she said."[Women] have the right to use public spaces, to get out there and be active."

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