A harrowing story of a violent crime in Oakland was reported by San Francisco television reporter Dion Lim. On Tuesday night, four armed men invaded the family home of a couple and their seven-year-old daughter. The criminals broke in as the mother was preparing to put her young daughter to bed. They tied up the couple, brutally beat the father, repeatedly threatened to murder all of them — specifically threatening that they would first shoot the daughter — and then ransacked their home over the course of a full hour, stealing all of their possessions and much of their life savings.
A GoFundMe page has been created by a family friend to tell the story and help them financially recover (their identities are being concealed pending the apprehension of the criminals). I have donated to it and encourage anyone who can to do so. But I also want to convey why this particular recent crime resonated for me and produced particularly strong levels of empathy. It is because, weeks ago, I experienced something quite similar — though thankfully without my children involved — and largely wanted to share what happened for the insights it provided me and to explain why violence of the kind this Oakland family just suffered is so brutalizing.
On March 5, I was at a farm that we have been renting during the pandemic that is roughly 90 minutes from our home in Rio de Janeiro. It is isolated and beautiful. I’ve begun my day for the last five months by feeding the chickens, rabbits, ducks, swans and peacocks that are there: a perfect way to connect to farming life. My husband and our two children had spent the week in Rio because the kids had school entrance exams that required a faster internet connection than is available at the farm. Because March 5 was the day before my birthday, they had all planned to come to the farm that day, but decided at the last second that they would come early the next morning instead.
So that night I was alone there with one off-duty police officer who works with our family to provide security. At roughly 9:30 p.m. that night, I was speaking with a friend on the telephone when I noticed that our dogs — twelve of whom were at the farm,