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Golden Gardens attack victim says Seattle’s homeless problem is only getting worse

A homeless man sleeps in Ballard. (MyNorthwest)
LISTEN: Golden Gardens rape survivor on Ballard case

Two days after a homeless man allegedly raped a woman at a Ballard car dealership, the woman who fought off a homeless man in a bathroom at Golden Gardens last year told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson that her “heart absolutely goes out to” Monday’s survivor.

RELATED: Woman raped in Ballard dealership bathroom

“It really just makes me sick to my stomach to think about how terrifying and how damaging that is, long-term,” Kelly Heron said.

Heron was out training for a marathon in March 2017 at Ballard’s Golden Gardens when a homeless man attacked her in the bathroom, attempting to rape her. Using skills learned in a self-defense class, Heron fought him off, but she continues to live with the trauma of that day.

“You’re never the same after something like that,” she said.

Still an avid runner, Heron jogs the same Ballard trails but has observed that the homeless problem has only spread since her attack. She regularly sees tents along the running paths and even in the middle of tennis courts.

“It doesn’t seem, to me, to be a problem that’s getting better,” she said.

Heron said that the danger cannot be avoided by simply keeping away from these areas at night. After all, she was attacked in the early afternoon, and the woman at the car dealership was allegedly raped in the morning. Instead of it being on women to avoid getting raped, Heron said it should be on Seattle government leaders to make sure rapists are locked up.

“This isn’t about how to be safer; we need a solution for the homeless people who are taking over our streets,” Heron said. “It’s decriminalized — they’re not being held to the same standards, and we need to do something about it.”

Heron pointed out that at 7:15 a.m. on a Monday, the woman was probably taking her car in for an oil change on her way to work — where she likely contributes to the well-being of Seattle.

“We’re trying to go make a living and be what Seattle is supposed to be … and in the process of just trying to live our lives, this is what we have to deal with,” Heron said.

Having seen that she cannot even remain safe walking down the streets of Ballard during the day, Heron feels betrayed by her own city.

“What do we have to do, fight these guys off one by one, put them in prison one by one, is that our responsibility to shoulder now, or is the city going to take care of us?” Heron said, fighting back sobs. “That’s what we pay for, right? … Is it too much to ask for just a baseline of safety to live in the city to which you pay taxes?”

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