Sunday evening, a woman on our street was forced at gunpoint into the utility basement of the apartment building I live in. She was beaten and sexually assaulted. I was awake at the time, and two floors up, but I didn't notice anything amiss until the police showed up. Someone was raped right in the building where I live -- it's not a terribly large building, either, probably the smallest in the complex -- and nobody noticed. (Except the downstairs dog, maybe, but she barks at fucking everything.)
I don't know how this happened. It doesn't make sense. Everyone seems to feel the same way. This is an active, pedestrian-friendly area. People always coming and going. The stairwell to that utility basement isn't hidden or anything; it's right along the driveway to the parking lot, and for a lot of residents it provides the easiest on-foot access to the street. This happened around 5PM, hardly an odd hour.
Yesterday a news crew came up to ask us questions. My boyfriend got the door, so he got to do the talking. But today the police finally started asking everyone if they knew anything, and I got to deal with that alone. I felt so useless. The only thing I could think of that might be pertinent at all was someone loitering in their car in the lot one night -- I can't even remember which night, since all days flow together for me -- he gave me a weird vibe. Can't remember exactly why, but I do remember wanting to avoid eye contact (implying the guy was looking around in the first place, which feels weird) and hightailing it back to the apartment. Since I didn't get a good look, I couldn't say for sure whether he fit the limited description of the assailant. But, yeah, felt real useless. This rapist is at large and my memory is so shitty that I can't offer anything to find him.
Now I've got this weird gut-twisted feeling running through me. I think it happened yesterday, too, after the news crew came by. I feel awful... vaguely nauseous, scared, and verging on tears. I'm not afraid for myself, exactly. But being mere meters away from a crime scene while that crime happened makes me feel both powerless and scummy. Less scummy, I suppose, than if I knew it was happening and just watched like an idiot, but it still feels really bad. That poor woman has to live with this terrible thing that happened. You hear about this shit but you never think it will take place right next to you. And then it does.