I intended to finish my blog post for women who support us this morning. Instead I had the same experience I had last night of having nightmares, then waking up with a start, feeling the need to get up to check on my youngest, who is 8, and her brother who is 11, to make sure they are okay. Not far from here in the last week, in the middle of the night, a man entered a home through an unlocked back door and raped an 11-year-old girl as she slept. Her family slept through the attack. She at first thought she had blankets tangled around her neck, and woke up to find a man in his 20s, strangling her.
The police found him and have arrested him. He was living in an underground bunker he had built in the woods. They found journals in which the man made reference to needing to stop his “child hunts.” He hung around where children were and they were nervous when he was around, as were neighbors.
As am I. My daughter has just begun sleeping in her own bed most nights. She’s proud of herself, proud of growing up. Last night she made her bunkbeds into a kind of fort with blankets draped all around, all cozy.
I’m proud of her, too, so proud. And I am scared for her. We live in a world in which grown men stake out little girls, hunt them, enter their classrooms, enter their homes, their bedrooms, to sexually assault them and sometimes, to kill them. We live in a world in which our little girls are prey and in which there are many, many predators who are completely willing to turn an innocent child’s life upside down.
If I have to get up in the middle of the night to make sure my kids are okay, how must this girl’s mother be feeling? Her sisters, brothers? Her grandmothers and aunts? All of her family members? How can they live in that home now? How can she or any of them even look at her bed, her bedroom, the back door?
How must this little girl be feeling? When will she feel safe again?