Today’s world is so different from the world I grew up in. At the age of four, I was walking carefree and alone around our city block. By the time I was ten, my friends and I would walk across town to the mall. We spent our days outside and went hours without our parents hearing from us.
Today, I am afraid to let my boys play out front without an adult. There are reports of sexual predators attempting to lure kids into vans just blocks from our home. The news is packed with stories of shootings, attempted kidnappings, and other atrocious acts.
Some things have stayed the same though. There are still predators who are looking for their next victim. As a child I remember our family home being broken into. Although we locked the door, it was just a screen and was easily cut through. The thieves crawled right into my parents bedroom where they were sleeping and stole from us.
We had a peeping tom. I remember going out to look at the footprints in the mud outside of our downstairs window. Even with our home being violated, I still felt an essence of safety. Most of all, I remember the attack in the park bathroom when I was around the age of 7.
The city park boasted multiple play areas and a great river for fishing. Accompanied by my dad and older brother, I alternately played on the equipment and caught the trees with my fishing pole. When I told my dad that I had to use the bathroom, he instructed my brother to take me.
While he wasn’t overly happy about it, my brother walked me there as I chattered on and on about the fun we were having. When we reached the building, I attempted to open the heavy door and was unable to, so my brother assisted me in pushing it open…that was when we heard a piercing scream from a woman yelling “help me”!
Immediately my brother pulled me backwards and we let the door fall shut. Shortly after we moved out of the way, a man ran out. To this day I can tell you that he had dark hair, a white t-shirt, blue jeans and black boots. He also held a white cloth over his face.
My brother grabbed me and together we RAN back to where my dad was still fishing. As I was hysterical, my brother shared the story and we all piled into the truck so my dad could find a pay phone and call the police. During the drive around the park, we encountered the woman, now hanging over the river bank with blood dripping from her face. My dad let her know the police were in route.
I had to give my statement to the officers and we were free to go home. Home..where we had already been broken into…Home…where we had already been visited by a peeping Tom. Home…and a feeling of dread while wondering if I would ever be safe again.