New Jersey woman reveals that she was ‘seconds away’ from being grabbed by men while running: ‘you don’t believe it’s gonna happen to you’

On May 14, Ashlynn Bowles (@abowles25), a New Jersey-based lifestyle and fitness creator, posted a video on her TikTok account in which she revealed the devastating news that she’d narrowly been abducted while out for a run that morning.

“I never get on social media and be emotional, but if I can literally tell a girl one thing, you don’t believe it’s gonna happen to you until it happens to you,” Bowles tearfully said. “I love running in my neighborhood and I’ve never had anything happen to me. But today, it was the day that I literally was seconds away from being grabbed, and it was just about the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced.”

“I’m fine, and that is the only thing that matters,” she adds.

Bowles posted a follow-up video on May 17 that provided additional details of the incident.

Early that morning, before 7 a.m., Bowles was running down “a local street” in South Jersey, where she resides. A car “flew past her” at around 60 miles per hour, and then abruptly slowed down and lingered nearby.

‘He was smiling at me in a way that I literally will never erase from my mind.’

“I wasn’t thinking anything of it,” she says. “I just thought maybe they flew past me, didn’t realize, and then felt bad and slowed down. So I was on the right side of the road and I crossed over to the left cause I was about to turn. Well, I noticed that the passenger side of the vehicle had, like, open their door and was ducking down…and then I got up next to the car and I was next to the driver side, and then there was somebody in the backseat.”

Immediately, Bowles realized what was going on.

“And I realized they had ski masks on. The one in the back seat had it, like, pulled to here, so I could still see his smile,” she recalls. “He was smiling at me in a way that I literally will never erase from my mind.”

She soon realized that the man located on the passenger’s side was getting ready to lunge at her, Bowles sprinted across the street and just kept going.

Bowles contacted her boyfriend, whose father used to be a lieutenant in their township. It was later determined that these men were driving a stolen vehicle, so there was no way to tie them to this kidnapping attempt.

“I do believe karma exists and that they will get what is coming for them. With that being said, this has taught me such a lesson that I need to learn to always pay attention to my surroundings,” she says. “That, as females, you will never be safe in this world. Even when you think you are the most safe, you never know what could happen.”

TikTok users have taken to the comments of Bowles’s recent video to thank her for sharing her experience.

“I am so thankful you are ok. It is sad that as females we don’t get to feel secure. Men have no idea what it’s like to live with fear everywhere we go,” @brandy_youreafinegirl wrote.

“Thank you for providing this information so as a runner I can understand what to watch for. This is always on my mind, I live in a big city as well,” @sarijack1 replied.

Per the U.S. Department of State via Global Estimates of Modern Slavery, which was released in 2022 by the International Labour Organization and the Walk Free Foundation, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration, “at any given time in 2021, approximately 27.6 million people were in forced labor.”

Since its inception in 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has reportedly received nearly 400,000 calls. The organization urges individuals to let a trusted friend or relative know if they feel like they’re in a dangerous situation, set up safety words, and be sure that you have a reliable means of communication, like a cellphone, at all times.

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