This has been going on for about a month. I try to get to sleep (which is not very easy for me), or I've managed to get something resembling a good night's sleep, and suddenly, I hear the crash of objects being thrown, the thump of blows to flesh, crying, and most notably, one of my neighbors- who lives diagonally across the intersection from me, screaming obscenities at his wife. Now the neighborhood's pretty laid back. Any excess of noise is usually resolved with a phone call or going over and saying, "Not meaning to intrude, but I'm trying to sleep." Loud neighbors agree to turn things down, apologize, and say good night. If we suspect something wrong, we wait until things simmer down, then maybe ask fighting neighbors if everything's okay. And usually things are, but the loudly bickering neighbors appreciate our concern.
Well, things weren't okay. This last time was the worst, with the words being screamed suggesting a crime in progress. I called the police, but didn't know my neighbor's address off the top of my head. I got told, "We can't respond there without an address." By then, though, things calmed down. I got dressed, got on my crutches, and walked over, knocked on the door and asked, "Is everything okay?"
The couple's three perfectly sweet and polite children- ranging in age from one to seven- all looked a bit shell-shocked. Dear ol' Dad denied anything wrong taking place. I pointed out that if he (because I won't deny the possibility that he was indeed being abused) and/or the kids are being abused, I'm required by law to report it and furthermore would be happy to help make sure everyone's safe. He rather brusquely denied needing my help, then left the room.
The middle child approached me and said very quietly, "Mom left."
I told her I was sorry she and her brothers saw what they did. She gave me a hug just as I heard Dad tell me to get out.
Later on, I saw the kids helping another neighbor run a lemonade stand. Neither of the parents were around. And as I was finished with a long crutch/walk (pretty much the only exercise I'm allowed), I was hot and thirsty. I gave them a dollar for the lemonade, then asked what had happened. They told me the whole story about an acrimonious split in progress, although first telling me that Mom and Dad were hitting themselves before admitting that they were hitting each other. I told them them I knew some people who could look out for them and help their family through this, and that brightened them up quite a bit.
They went home. I visited for a bit with another neighbor. Soon, out storms Dad, spittle-flying screaming at me, getting in my face, demanding to know what kind of "garbage" I was putting in his kids' heads, and threatening to call the cops if I didn't stay away from the kids. Bear in mind, they are friendly, polite kids who are frequently outside and say hello when they see other neighbors out, I have to take frequent walks as per doctor's orders, and I don't take kindly to being threatened.
So I left. I called Child Protection and had a long conversation with them. Then I paid a personal visit to the police station, gave them the full story- and this time I remembered the address.
I've done all I could and all the law demanded of me, but besides worrying about the kids' safety, somehow I can't help also fearing for my own.
And why on earth did all this have to go down while I'm recovering from hip and spine surgery?!?!