Kelly Herron was allegedly attacked by a 40-year-old man in a public restroom on Sunday

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March 13, 2017 12:43 PM

Kelly Herron was jogging in Seattle’s Golden Gardens Park for a day of marathon training last Sunday when she was allegedly attacked in a public restroom by a 40-year-old man.

The 36-year-old stopped to use a restroom after reaching mile four in her 10-mile run. She recalled the ordeal to ABC News, alleging that she turned around to see Gary Steiner standing in the restroom.

“As I was drying my hands, I became aware that something was wrong,” she said.

Herron has made a point of speaking out about the situation in which she allegedly fought off the man and suffered visible bruising — but escaped the alleged attempted rape.

Here are five things to know about the Seattle woman and her “message of survival:”

Kelly Herron/Instagram

1. The Struggle Took Place in a Public Restroom 

Herron alleged to ABC that the attacker immediately grabbed her, pulling her down to the bathroom floor.

“It was a fight on the bathroom floor and I just kept screaming, ‘Not today motherf—–,’ ” she said, noting that the phrase became her “battle cry.”

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She said she ran into a bathroom stall and tried unsuccessfully to lock the door with her foot. Her alleged attacker entered the stall and “started beating me in the face with his hand.”

Herron said that, at that point, she came to a realization: “This doesn’t have to be a fair fight.”

She began using tactics she learned in a self-defense class and managed to fight the man off.

“All those little things that I learned in my life … how to punch and everything came back to me,” she told ABC. “I started to feel like I was going to lose consciousness … but I got another surge of adrenaline and I reached for the door and was able to get out.”

Kelly Herron/Instagram

2. Herron Took a Self-Defense Class Three Weeks Before the Incident

Herron’s employer scheduled the two-hour self-defense class nearly a month ago, the 36-year-old told KIRO, noting that everything she learned came flooding back to her in those frantic moments.

“I was screaming at him, ‘Not today, motherf—–,’ being loud and not afraid,” she said. “I mean, you are afraid. But letting him know you are not taking me down today. You are not going to win this fight.”

She told ABC that the self-defense tactics saved her.

“I learned [to] put hard bones in soft fleshy places so I just started hitting him on the side of his head,” she said.

Herron mentioned the class when chronicling the ordeal in an Instagram post.

“Thankfully I just took a self-defense class offered at my work and utilized all of it,” she wrote. “My face is stitched, my body is bruised, but my spirit is intact.”

3. Her Alleged Attacker is a Registered Sex Offender

As Herron’s story made headlines, Steiner’s criminal history came to light — including the fact that he has a sex abuse conviction stemming from an Arizona incident, according to KOMO News.

Herron told ABC that a passerby helped her lock Steiner in the bathroom stall using a carabiner. That’s where the man was when police arrived, according to court documents obtained by KOMO.

“Kill me,” Steiner reportedly told the responding officers.

The man was charged with second-degree attempted rape for the alleged attack of Herron, online records show. ABC reports he is also being charged with second-degree assault.

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However, he was wanted in Clark County for failing to register as a sex offender and is also charged with rape and assault, according to the records. It is unclear whether the rape and assault charges are related to Herron’s incident.

ABC reports that Steiner is being held in jail on $750,000 bail, and that he is being represented by a public defender. PEOPLE was unable to immediately reach his public defender.

Kelly Herron

 

4. Herron Spoke Out About the Incident and her ‘Message of Survival’

In the wake of the alleged attack, Herron posted several photos to Instagram, showing her scars and detailing the harrowing ordeal.

“My biggest running nightmare became reality,” she wrote alongside a collage post showing three photos. In one picture, Herron sat in a hospital bed with a bruised, bloodied eye.

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Another photo showed the outside of the bathroom and Herron also included a photo of her running route, which illustrated her frantic movements in the bathroom.

“I couldn’t remain the silent, anonymous victim- there is a message of survival that is too important to remain untold,” she captioned another group of photos, which included a shot of her bruised arm.

She later uploaded two photos of Steiner’s mugshot, writing, “FIGHT LIKE A SAVAGE!”

5. Forty-Three Percent of Women Experience Harassment While Running

An October 2016 survey in Runner’s World Magazine found that 43 percent of women at least sometimes experienced harassment on their runs — compared to just 4 percent of men.

Although it is rare that this harassment turns deadly, the survey pointed to a nine-day period last summer in which three women were murdered while running.

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