'I can't be left alone' - Bristol woman speaks out after sexual assault

  • Watch as Rachel talks about the incident and the impact it has had on her

A woman who was sexually assaulted while jogging in Bristol says she no longer feels she can be left alone.

Rachel Stride was attacked by a man while running on Clifton Downs on the evening of 15 March.

The 21-year-old reported the incident to police, who searched the area but failed to find the offender.

She has bravely waived her right to anonymity to discuss the incident, and said she "burst into tears" as soon as she spoke to a police operator.

Bristol was found to be the third greenest city centre in Britain, with green spaces such as the Downs

"As a runner, especially when you go out at night after a long day at work, you need to grow a resilience to the sounds of things that scare you," she said.

"You put them to the back of your mind. I didn't really think of anything until I got grabbed.

"I started crying as soon as I got on the operator. I just burst into tears.

Rachel said she often runs in the evenings - something she has done since the age of 13, after she would return home from school.

But she said the attack has made her question when and where she can run alone.

"I don't want it to change just because somebody else ruined it for me, but unfortunately that is just the way it is," she explained.

"I'm not able to go out on my own anymore because it only happened a few days ago.

Following the attack, additional police patrols have been carried out in the Clifton Downs area.

The investigation is ongoing and officers from Avon and Somerset Police have issued an appeal for witnesses.

The offender is described as white, aged between 25-35, with a pointed nose and may have blond hair.

He is believed to have been wearing a mask, a black nylon hooded top with white stripes down the sleeves and his hood raised.

Rachel said she hopes members of the public will come forward with information to help find her attacker.

Police say they searched the scene where the assault took place but did not find the offender. Credit: ITV News

"It was so awful," she added.

"If this person is found that is one less horrible person off the street."

In a statement issued earlier this week, PC Luke Finney urged anyone who saw what happened - or drove past and may have captured something on dashcam - to get in touch.

"We will ensure she has access to any support services that she needs going forward," he said.

"Our investigation is ongoing to try to identify the offender. Local officers have been made aware of his description and they will be conducting additional high-visibility patrols in the area.

"We’d urge anyone who saw what happened, has dashcam footage from Ladies Mile and Circular Road, or may have experienced something similar to get in touch to help us with our enquiries."

Read more: