On the local news last night, after discussion of the debates and other local issues, we were greeted with the startling image of our street in a news story.
According to the news, in front of the corner market about two blocks down from us, a man repeatedly tried to coerce a young girl into his vehicle. When she refused repeatedly, he exposed himself to her, causing her to run in fear to her aunt's house, somewhere here on our street. They didn't pan wide enough for us to see the house the little girl ran to, probably to help protect the identity of both the girl and the aunt, so we don't know how close it is to our home.
I know we don't live in an awesome neighborhood -- I often lampoon/lament the street we live on and it's inhabitants -- I mean, there was an effing crack & whore house across the street from us for several months -- but this just feels like a punch to the gut.
We constantly talk about how long we want to stay in this house, shaped by everything from the kids' schooling to our finances to just the desirability of the houses available in surrounding areas. But throughout these talks, we have generally felt that while there are spats of not-awesome, the area wasn't so bad that immediate vacancy was required.
But now, damnit. Damnit. Now I don't want to take my kids in the front yard to play. Now I am nervous about juggling both kids as I try to get in the car to take them somewhere because I often have to leave one unattended on the sidewalk to strap the other one into their car seat. I feel like I need to be hyper-vigilant now, not only for my children, but for myself. An act like this doesn't just threaten the children of this neighborhood, it threatens me as a woman as well, because in all reality crimes of sexual violence don't discriminate and I am just as apt to be violated as a young child merely because I am female.
We were too naive when we moved here to know to do things like check the registered sexual offender list before buying this house, and I'm not sure it would have mattered much anyway as we never intended to live here this long, to raise our children here. But now, now I've looked and my heart is heavy and my stomach is knotted because that false sense of security we've so carefully built around this little house is gone.
All with Trick or Treat around the corner, too.
All the news gave was a weak description of the assailant -- a white male in a grey four-door sedan. That could describe our neighbors and their vehicles -- hell, in the dusky haze of impending night that could describe Kyle in our blue Corolla. The vagueness is nearly as unsettling as the crime itself -- because now every unknown male in a generic make of car is a threat, is someone to watch with eagle eyes as they walk or drive by my home, potentially casing us for future violation.
My heart is broken for that little girl, for her innocence so awfully corrupted for the sake of perversion. And, it breaks a little bit for my family, too, because our sense of home has been shattered around the edges, reverting our views of this place we've worked so hard on to just a house, a place to be left behind for better spaces and safer streets.