Occasionally, I become genuinely annoyed by the far reaching intervention of local and federal governments’ restrictions into what I feel are more private and ultimately parental issues, such as, taxing sugaring sodas, etc. Shouldn’t these issues and decisions be better determined by parental discretion? After all, parents are best at protecting their children’s health and safety, right?
Then I remember. I remember that night when I awoke to the sound and staring of a stranger’s face peering into the bedroom window where my sister and I slept. He was urinating at the window and grunting, while, obviously drunk. I turned over and let out a scream that sent my poor mother, terrified, racing into our bedroom. Trembling and terrified, I told her what I saw.
She called the police. They came. We lived in the basement apartment. My mother was raising us alone. She slept on the sofa in the living room….there was only one bedroom, where my sister and I slept.There was no father to confront the assailant. My Mother was our defense.
Two cops arrived. Their suggestion, young as I was, shocked and frightened me. They told my mother it was her fault for allowing her 2 young daughters to sleep in provocative sleep wear without drawing the curtains. This, they said, only attracted men, and therefore, it was upon her to make certain this temptation was not repeated.
My sister was 11 and I was 7. We slept in cotton pajamas. it was 85 degrees and we had our shade up to catch whatever breeze there was. No comfort was offered. Nothing like, “Ma’am, we’ll keep an eye out on the place…” Nothing. She was made to feel shame and neglect for “inviting” a pedophile.
I knew, even at this young age, if there had been a father, things wold have turned out very differently. He would have been outraged, and the officers would have been obliged to assure him they would investigate. Nothing of the sort happened. I thought about my girlfriends’ dads. They would have been furious and something else would have happened. Oddly, I felt most sad for my Mother, whom, I felt had been embarrassed and defeated. Defeated in the ability to save us from harm. It was then, I first realized, that women had no power….we were literally at the hands of men, creeps along with cops.
Fast forward to today. Children’s safety is taken very seriously. Any inappropriate behavior by a stranger, teacher, or even a family member is swiftly and evenly investigated. My mother was unable to protect us, but now, the law, does so, if a bit too late for my sister and me.