A Bad Weekend

I haven’t written for a while because of a really awful experience our family had this weekend.

We had taken Kat to the indoor play place at the mall, and we had met our friend, Kendra, her college-aged niece and Kendra’s daughter, who is six months younger than Kat, there. There was also a dad and his three year old son there, and the kids were playing and all was well.

And then this creepy guy came up–he stayed away from the entrance to the play place, but hovered near the barricade that keeps the kids in.

And he was staring at the kids.

At Kat in particular.

All of us adults felt the bad vibe coming from this creep immediately, and we were staring at him, and my mind started working furiously, because he looked familiar. I had seen his face before.

He followed Kat’s movements, like a dog stalking a rabbit, and the look on his face–oh, my God–anyone who can look at a baby like that should not be allowed out around anyone.

He finally noticed that we were all staring at him and looked up and then turned and went into a store nearby. Mind you, this mall is nearly always deserted–it is struggling to stay in business–so he really had no chance to steal a kid away. Nor did he approach the entrance to the play place–if he had one of us, or more likely, all of us, would have confronted him directly.

But as he walked away, I finally remembered where I had seen his face–on the cover of The OU Post–the student newspaper. They had run a story just that Thursday on how a number of registered sex offenders in the county were living too close to elementary schools and the county prosecutor was forcing them to move.

He was one of them.

I told everyone who he was and that we had to leave.

So, we went home, and I picked up the paper–it was still on my desk, and there he was. I showed the lineup of photos to every other adult and they all picked the same guy as the creep.

So, I called the police, and made a report–and the officer who answered the phone promised to send a car right away, and to look up the man’s terms of parole, which he may have just violated by approaching a playground.

So, I felt better, but not by much.

You see, I am a survivor of sexual abuse, and this just triggered so many bad feelings, that I haven’t wanted to write. If you add this to the fact that someone else in town is being obsessed with me in a–well, let’s face it–mentally ill way, and I just have had a hard several days.

That’s why I haven’t written. I can barely eat, much less think about food.

Practically speaking, though, we are going to get some new doors for our home, and have a security system put in. And, we are going to put in security lights–we live in a wooded area back from the street which is a dark street anyway.

And, we are finally going to get another dog. I just know I will sleep better with a dog in the house, and I think it is important for Kat to grow up a dog–kids and dogs go together. And this one will be trained by the best trainers we have in the county, one of whom used to be the head of the local police’s K-9 division.

So that is where my head is right now. Not in a good place.

Thanks for being so understanding.

48 Comments

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  1. **hugs** Good for you for having the presence of mind to remember where you saw him from and getting the police involved.

    Hope the rough stuff passes and soon.

    Comment by Cindy — February 11, 2009 #

  2. Oh my gosh, Barbara – what an awful and scary experience. You are a sharp cookie though to notice, take action, and to SHARE the knowledge with others. Hope you land in a calmer place after taking some of these prudent actions.

    Comment by Diane — February 11, 2009 #

  3. Wow, that is so creepy…ugh. Good thing you have a great memory and that Kat is too young to know what is going on. I hope you all feel better after installing the electronic and doggie security!

    Comment by Alison — February 11, 2009 #

  4. Wow, that’s terrifying and awful. It sounds like you reacted the best way you possibly could, though. I hope the police find that guy and are able to lock him up again for violating the terms of his parole. *shudders*

    Comment by Janaki — February 11, 2009 #

  5. Wow – what a scary experience. Best wishes that this bad stuff passes quickly.

    Comment by Lexica — February 11, 2009 #

  6. I assume it is not easy to share, but your honesty and openness is the type that renews faith in society. Thank you for the update. My thoughts are with you and your family.

    KCatGU

    Comment by KCatGU — February 11, 2009 #

  7. Barbara,

    I feel terrible. I just found your blog today when looking for info on making stock. I sent you a question about that post on stock making from a few years ago before I saw this one. Please don’t feel like you need to respond anytime soon. I’m so sorry you had to go through that but glad that you recognized him. You may have saved someone else a terrible tragedy. And I agree about the dog. I have three and they our great guards and companions. Many blessings to you.

    Comment by Kim in Rocky River, OH — February 11, 2009 #

  8. How awful, I feel so bad for you. I wish I could make you feel better. Tea and Cookies had a lovely recipe for soba noodles that looked very warming, but I know you just need to feel secure. :(

    Comment by jennywenny — February 11, 2009 #

  9. I haven’t commented recently although I still read faithfully because my life has been so hectic. I cannot get this story out of my head. My youngest is almost exactly Kat’s age and I am horrified. I’m glad you’re getting a dog–we have 2 big ones and they make me feel better than anything else I can think of.

    My thoughts will be with you…

    Comment by Laura — February 11, 2009 #

  10. I was also sexually abused as a child.
    It is wonderful that you recognized him and did call and report him. Ugh! What a horrible creep! It makes me nauseated, thinking… and realizing what you must have gone through. What a terrible trigger for you!

    Dogs are a comfort to us and a deterrent to others who might try something. I appreciate ours so very much, especially when we are in the house without my bf home. I’m nearly deaf, and she will alert me whenever anyone is outside, immediately. We had someone try to break into the garage several weeks ago, and she scared them off with her deep bark! I saw them running out of our yard and away from her! I am so grateful to her. She is a great comfort to me.

    Comment by Jehannamama — February 11, 2009 #

  11. Wow, I’m glad you recognised him! Isn’t it amazing how strongly your gut reacts to some people? Always trust your gut! And train your kids to trust theirs. (Of course you will!)

    Comment by Maria DaCosta — February 11, 2009 #

  12. I read your blog faithfully via a feed to my LJ friends list.

    I think I can safely speak for your loyal fans when I say that we feel some kinship to you and your Kat since being there from the very inklings of your pregnancy cravings to her birth and beyond.

    While Kat is not “my” daughter, I felt an instant fear clutch my gut as you related this incident.

    Thank God for your Mama Bear protective instincts and for doing exactly the right thing. It is sad that parents have to have that special radar these days but there are so many bad people out there that it is an inescapable fact of life.

    Give Kat an extra big squnch from her “family” out here in the blogosphere.

    I am glad she is safe and that you are taking steps to insure her continued well-being.

    Comment by Shannon from Alaska — February 11, 2009 #

  13. I am regular reader but have not ever commented (too shy I guess). However, I feel so terrible for you having to go through that. I am sure you must have felt incredibly violated by that creep/pervert’s actions. I am a very liberal person, but I honestly do not believe that sex offenders can be rehabilitated, and, although, I do not claim to have a solution, I do not think convicted sex offenders should be released into society without some better way of protecting the citizenry. Sex Offender Registry is not nearly enough. So much for being shy. Peace & Blessings.

    Comment by Amy D. — February 11, 2009 #

  14. I’m a huge fan of yours, but also too shy to comment, usually. Thanks for being so brave as to share this story, hard though is must be. It’s a great reminder to all your readers to be careful of creeps around their kids. I hope you find the right dog soon – it’s a wonderful idea for many reasons, as you say! Warmest wishes for a happier mindset, Barbara.

    Comment by Ushma — February 11, 2009 #

  15. Oh my gosh Barbara, as one of your many long time readers (though I’ve never commented) I don’t think I can put into words how scared and infuriated I am that this happened. Kat is (as all children are) such a special child and I can’t help but feel a well of emotions after reading your post. Good on you for remembering this guy’s face and calling the police. I think a new dog will do you all good as well.

    Comment by Knitguy — February 11, 2009 #

  16. I’m so sorry that you and your family and little Kat were exposed to that disgusting man! Lots of support to you and your family and I think you’re incredibly brave to share this with us. Hope the police prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law and stay safe.

    Comment by mary — February 11, 2009 #

  17. So sorry you had to go through this. Kat is lucky to have such vigilant people in her life. Glad to hear you are getting a dog. Getting Lucy has changed my life.

    Comment by artcargirl — February 11, 2009 #

  18. What a horrifying experience. My thoughts and best wishes are for you and your family as you add some protective layers. I pray that some action can be taken to be sure that man will pose no danger to anyone. It gives me chills thinking about what you’ve gone though, and I hope that life resumes a normal course for you as soon as possible.

    I don’t often comment, but I do enjoy reading your thoughts, recipes, and stories. So, it’s quite sad to read that you’re having such a painful time. I’m glad you’ve shared and I hope the support of your readers gives you a boost. Good luck with your renovations and with finding a good dog.

    Comment by Adrianne — February 11, 2009 #

  19. Just a thought – Maybe it would be a good idea not to publish any photos of Kat or other kids in your blog. I read somewhere that abusers sometimes track kids from photos they see online.

    Comment by Anon — February 11, 2009 #

  20. I took down the pictures I had of Kat here–I may have missed an old post or two. But, I decided today to take all of the Weekend Kat Blogging posts down, and to put no more pictures of her up on this blog. Which is sad, but…well, yeah.

    Comment by Barbara — February 11, 2009 #

  21. That’s so horrible but I am glad you were there and attentive.

    I have misgivings about certain aspects of Sexual Offender Registries, mostly because people who were convicted of mostly-benign things (peeing in public perhaps while drunk or an 18 year old boy who has sex with a 16/17 year old girlfriend whose parents decide to press charges, etc.) end up on the same registry as *really* messed up psychos like the one you encountered and this can ruin their lives forever.

    But for the offenders like the guy you caught? I hope they get him for parole violation and put him away for a long time.

    Comment by autumnmist — February 12, 2009 #

  22. Hugs Barbara and thanks so much for sharing this. I’ve been reading your blog and have been completely in awe with your cooking and in love with Kat. As a recent mother, I feel your fear. Stay strong and you have already planned out the security and a dog. Great going. Best wishes and prayers with you and your family.

    Comment by blinkandmiss — February 12, 2009 #

  23. Oh my god, Barbara, what a horrible story! There is no worse feeling than the feeling of being violated — in your home, your body, or your peace of mind — and being unable to stop or punish the perpetrator. I have had this feeling having been the victim of a home invasion. For you to have suffered the abuse you did must make this situation feel so much worse.

    I am a parent and there is no fear like the fear that comes from the thought that something might happen to my child. Your fear for Kat reaches right out to me and triggers my own personal and terrifying fear. There is no peace of mind like the knowledge that you have the ability to defend yourselves and your loved ones. Two words: concealed carry.

    Comment by Jim — February 12, 2009 #

  24. Hi Barbara. I’m so sorry you had to go through that, but it’s a good thing you are a vigilant parent! I know too many parents who get way to distracted or bored at the playground to watch their kids properly.

    When Kat gets old enough, make sure to teach her how to deal with strangers. My father drilled into our heads when we were very small to never ever approach a stranger or let a stranger approach us no matter what they are offering (candy, money, etc). He gave us kids a certain password to remember (which I still have in my head to this day) in case our parents had to send a neighbor or a friend to fetch us from somewhere. All adults unknown to us had to have the correct password before they could approach us.

    Dad also taught us how to fight back if a stranger grabbed us (grabbing a creepy guy by the balls with both hands and pulling always works).

    My parents were also very truthful about what could happen to us if we ever let a stranger come too close. They didn’t hide anything from us, and it made us kids that much more aware of our surroundings and the people around us.

    I’ll be sad to see posts and pictures of Kat go away. Maybe you could set up some kind of private subscription so those of us who have been watching Kat grow and learn don’t miss out on her future adventures?

    Comment by Roxanne — February 12, 2009 #

  25. hi barbara

    i have been one of your longtime readers though i never commented. i can absolutely emphathize as i have been abused as a child too. god bless!! stay strong, have faith, and get a dog as u say.

    it took me a long time to regain my self esteem, and god bless we would not have such things done to our children. stay strong and take your time.

    luv, hugs, and blessings
    sangeetha

    Comment by sangeetha — February 12, 2009 #

  26. Sending support and concern.

    It is perfectly true that we who read your blog feel a kinship with Kat. As horrified as I am by any child abuse, I am even more angered by a pervert casting a shadow over Kat, who is iconic in our family as the daughter I didn’t have and the grandchild I wish for– I show her photos to my sons with commands to get out there and find suitable spouses!

    I will be very very sorry to not see her anymore, but it is more important to keep her safe. If you can set up a friends-only section, I would be delighted.

    It is a terrible thing that abusive people can create a connection with unwilling victims— yourself, Kat, anyone. I hope he gets what he deserves.

    Comment by wwjudith — February 12, 2009 #

  27. Barbara – I wouldn’t suggest for one second that the people commenting on your blog aren’t totally, genuinely concerned for you and your family. And I know that talking openly in public can be a cathartic exercise and is almost certainly better than bottling things up. But I must strongly urge you to seek professional counselling. I’m sure there will be local services where you live, freely available. This is not a simple issue and you may find that you need support over quite a long period and maybe intermittently. These services can offer support and advice from people who are highly experienced and professionally trained in dealing with issues of abuse. Wishing you all the very best from our family.

    Comment by Mike (Trig's dad) — February 12, 2009 #

  28. How awful – but kudos to you for being aware, and remembering him, and reporting it to the police. I think you’re incredible, and your examples (this, and dealing with the bellydancer harrassers, especially) inspire me to be a stronger, more aware, and more involved person in my community. Go you!

    I’m also having a security system turned on in my house, and we’re getting a dog. On the one hand, I’m disappointed (to say the least) that I feel forced to do this to feel safe, and can’t just feel safe in my home without having to do this stuff. On the other hand, I will feel safer for having it done, and I get to enjoy having a dog.

    Anyway. I’ve missed your posts, but I think your absence is totally understandable, and I wish you and your family well. I hope things only get better from here.

    Comment by Kathy — February 12, 2009 #

  29. Hi Barabara,

    Today is the first day I found your blog… which is wonderful by the way. I’m sorry to hear about this experience and I send my support to you even though we dont know eachother. Its nice to know that even though I was looking for a foodie blog I found a human being instead. It looks like you have many wonderful friends out here in blogland! Looking forward to future posts when you are ready…and your chicken curry recipe.

    Stephanie

    Comment by Stephanie — February 12, 2009 #

  30. I want to thank each and every one of you who have posted comments to this blog and who have emailed me privately concerning this awful incident.

    I do want to make clear that I already have a psychologist with whom I worked to get past the post partum depression and who has also helped disconnect me from the triggers that will start my PTSD to flare. This incident pretty much flipped every trigger switch that exists in my psyche, so the first thing I did was call her up and say, “Houston, we have a problem.”

    I have seen her twice this week, and will be seeing her once next week. She is pretty sure that these anxiety attacks I am having will slow down in intensity in the next week or so, and until then, I am being extra-special careful with myself about not picking up and reading newspapers, for fear of reading a news story that will trigger the whole thing to start over again, and I am taking things easy for a while.

    Slowly, things are getting better for me. As we move forward with more secure doors, and as I start emailing breeders of German Shepherds, and I contact dog trainers–with each step, my anxiety level drops off slightly and I relax a tiny bit more.

    Once again, thank you all so much–your kindness is a balm to me, to Zak and to Morganna and the rest of my family right now.

    As for maybe making a private friends only section on the blog–I will look into some way people can keep up with Kat–because plenty of you readers have been with me from the beginning, and have become part of my extended web-based family. I have emailed back and forth with you all, and have even met one or two of you in person! I will see what I can do for you all–because I do know how much many of you cherist news of and pictures of Kat, and that love warms my heart, and I cannot wait to be able to explain to her how many “Aunties” and “Uncles” she has out there in the wide world.

    I also want to say some special words for those of you who have never posted on my blog, even though you read regularly who have posted replies in the past few days.

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Knowing the compassion that those of you feel toward me and my family has helped me immeasurably. I know how hard it is to jump in and talk to a stranger online–it isn’t easy, but you did it, and you did it right when I needed it.

    And, I hope to hear from you again, too…maybe it will be easier to say hi now!

    Jim, I wanted to add–the first thing I thought of when I realized what I was looking at was a concealed carry permit. It is a possibility, but one I will weigh very carefully. I, unlike a good many liberals, do not fear guns, but I do respect them as the dangerous tools that they are, and so I have to think carefully before going that route. But, believe me–I am thinking of it. I have a friend with a concealed carry permit who does carry his gun fairly often. He was granted the permit because he has a stalker, and I am glad he finally started taking the situation seriously enough to take action to protect himself. I was one of the people who urged him to look into that permit, and I am very glad he has it.

    I am ready, at this juncture to do all that is necessry to protect my family and myself from predation. I am not prey, nor are my children, my husband or my friends and other relatives. I will not wallow in fear and let it stop me from acting. I have never given up a fight in my life, and am not about to start doing so now.

    Thank you all so much, again. I really, really, REALLY appreciate all of the support I have gotten from each of you.

    Comment by Barbara — February 12, 2009 #

  31. I am glad you are taking the photos down (although I will miss them). I thought of your blog a lot when I made my decision to not post photos of my kids, and was jealous because I kinda wished I could be as laid back instead of so paranoid. But this story reminds me that a little paranoia can go a long way when it comes to kids and as someone who has watched Kat grow up a bit, I would much rather that she was safe.

    I’m hoping a puppy finds his/her way into your home soon. I don’t fear guns either, but a dog trumps it all, at least while you are at your home.

    Comment by Laura — February 12, 2009 #

  32. I am so sorry this happened. I will miss not seeing pictures of Kat…she is precious and I have enjoyed watching her grow. Take care!

    Dolores

    Comment by Dolores Jones — February 12, 2009 #

  33. Your courage, as you can see in some of the responses above, is much needed and appreciated.

    I just wanted to mention that the British Kennel Club, recommend only two dogs for those with children, one of which is the Staffordshire Terrier a dog which has the nickname of the babysitter, because the nature of dog is such that it will sit in a park watching a child rather than play with other dogs

    Comment by simon — February 12, 2009 #

  34. Barbara

    Thinking of you and wishing you well.

    Comment by Maureen — February 12, 2009 #

  35. Barbara, thank you for doing the right thing and protecting the rest of those children, too. Stay well and strong.

    Comment by dust — February 12, 2009 #

  36. I’m so glad you were so observant. I’ll be praying that your symptoms fade soon.

    Comment by Christy — February 13, 2009 #

  37. Barbara, I haven’t checked your site in a while and only just noticed this post. I am so sorry. You are an incredible woman and an outstanding mother – I am sure you will come through this even stronger. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Give Kat a big kiss from all of us!

    Comment by Meg — February 13, 2009 #

  38. So sorry this had to happen to your family – although I will miss seeing Kat grow up, I too am uncomfortable with seeing or posting pictures of my grandkids on the internet. So sad when it has to come to this. I’m glad that you have resources in place and I hope that the police catch this man so that he can no longer terrorize others.

    Comment by Grace — February 13, 2009 #

  39. I am so sorry to hear and if it is any consolation you’re amazing for having picked up on it and gotten him looked into again–your instincts and defenses did their job. Maybe that thought can help make you all feel safe again, my thoughts are with you.

    Take care, we’ll all be here for you while recovering.

    Comment by Lizah — February 13, 2009 #

  40. Barbara,

    Stay strong and stay current with your therapist. You are a strong and brave woman, and you will survive. And you will protect your child to ensure that nothing like what you so unjustly endured will befall her.

    If you do decide to arm yourself, please remember that police officers spend hundreds of hours learning how (and when) to raise and use their weapon. Find someone who will be willing to teach you and get as many rounds through the weapon as you can afford until you feel confident with it.

    The gun safe that I suggest you look into is called Gun Vault (http://www.gunvault.com). It uses a biometric reader keyed to your fingerprint to open.

    My favorite use of a gun is when a strong, vicious, and predatory man finds himself on the business end of a gun wielded by a smaller, smarter, and confident woman. That’s why guns are called the great equalizer and one of the most primal statements for women’s rights that I can imagine.

    Comment by Jim — February 13, 2009 #

  41. I should have commented when I read this a few days ago, but my toddler woke up and we were off and running.

    I’m so glad you were able to keep Kat (and the other kids) safe. Trust your instincts. Also, it’s good to know that you’re taking care of yourself. We can’t ignore that.

    We have a standard poodle. He has the loudest, deepest bark of any dog I know. He came to us via rescue and all of our neighbors are happy to see him. Oddly enough, the peeping tom that plagued this neighborhood hasn’t been seen since we brought our beloved dog home in 2005. The elderly woman who lives next door is glad that we have a vocal dog because nobody can sneak up now. He lives indoors with us, of course, but also spends lots of time with us outside.

    I grew up with a K-9 (retired) doberman. She was probably one of the best dogs I’ve had the privilege of knowing.

    Be well.

    Comment by Jocelyn — February 13, 2009 #

  42. I have been busy this week and didn’t get to reading your blog until this morning. Oh, what a nightmare! I was also abused as a child by one who should have nurtured and protected me and so, as an adult, my protective instincts go into Guard! Protect! Defend! mode when someone I care about is menaced by one of these disgusting predators. It looks to me like you are taking all the necessary steps to defend your child and protect yourself. I too will miss the photos of Kat but protecting her from scum like this is the important thing. I am sending love and white protective light toward you; so if you see a wandering sunbeam, know that it’s coming from California on a mission to protect, guard and surround you and yours with love and care from me.
    namaste!

    Comment by Nancy — February 14, 2009 #

  43. Yow! I’m so (uselessly) sorry!

    Comment by Mary Ann Dimand — February 14, 2009 #

  44. How sad for a fun outing to turn out so badly. But how fortunate you recognised him and were able to alert the authorities. Good luck in getting back to normal.

    Comment by barbara — February 14, 2009 #

  45. Take all the time you need!

    And GOOD FOR YOU for remembering that face and doing something about it!

    Comment by Aunt LoLo — February 14, 2009 #

  46. I’ll miss seeing the pictures of Kat. She’s such a cutie, but I agree taking them down is the right thing to do.

    Good for you for remembering who that guy was!

    My mom said when she was a toddler her family had a German shepherd. She said he would watch her playing in the yard, and if she started wandering out of it, he would grab her by the seat of her pants and drag her back up to the house. :-)

    Comment by Neohippie — February 16, 2009 #

  47. That’s terrible! I wish you and your family the best. Take care!

    Comment by gaga — February 19, 2009 #

  48. Barbara — I thought you should know that there are still a few pictures of Kat up, just from ones I’ve seen recently.
    “I Have Returned….For Real This Time”
    “On the subject of tea: Puer”
    “Sinfully simple: chicken with bok choy and bacon”
    “The totoro apron”
    All of Kat’s pictures are unspeakably adorable and I shall be sad to see them go.

    Comment by Kyrias — March 1, 2009 #

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