“…In the face of human suffering, silence always helps those who cause the suffering, never the victims.” -Carol Rittner

I feel vulnerable and crazy-made again by another’s wrath. Well, yesterday I was playing with my kids outside when I asked my son to check the mail. Yelling caught my attention and I heard a man yell to his partner, “You can’t talk to me like that!!.” My fear-based reaction told me to grab my kids, head inside, and turn a def ear. But my loving response kicked in: I hugged my kids as I stood watching the man. I wanted to make sure there was no physical violence. I began saying and singing kind words. Thankfully, the fight ended but today was another day.

I was cleaning dishes at 8AM and could hear a child screaming. It was a horrendous cry. I naturally went through my list of possibilities for  crying, “playing around, fell, temper tantrum.” Minutes went by and the cry was still intense and disturbing. I kept turning off the water and even opened the window so that I could hear some assurance. I was so concerned I was going to ask my partner to come listen. He was joyfully playing with our kids so I did not want to disturb them and figured I was over sensitive to the cries. The cry eventually stopped. Later on, we had a movie and music playing yet my partner and I heard screaming. I told him it was the same cry I heard this morning. He went out to listen to figure out what was going on. I came in and out a few times. We both heard paddling of some sort and a toddler screaming  “mama” and “stop it.” My heart sank. I have lived in close neighborhoods like this for 13 years and have only once before heard screaming like this, and when I have heard it else where, the child was being hurt.

I had to do something. I walked down the street to be greeted by a man asking if I lost something which quickly turned into a confrontation about me “being nosy all for a 2 and half yr old having a tantrum and they were not giving in.” I remained calm and kind, validated his feelings, and repeated that children’s wellbeing is my business, there is crucial brain development at this age, and that loving the child through the stress is a helpful option. He of course was defensive, accusatory, and rejecting my concerns. I got to see the terrified girl clenching her mother as the father shamed her in my presence just so he could prove to me she was fine.

Now here I sit feeling afraid and vulnerable. That girl “is fine” according to the majority of people and getting just what she “needs.” I know she is not fine and not getting her most vital needs met, nor are the majority of people. I will read more head lines tomorrow about how could someone do this horrid act and how it came out of no where. The reality is glaring and the truth hurts yet we are not allowed to cry. To feel compassion you must heal and to heal you must cry, or at least express the pain at some level to process but the risk of being vulnerable is even more terrifying. So where does that leave us? I guess, on the front page again.

Check out these sites if you’d like to learn more ways to heal abuse. It boils down to that we all need unconditional love and more resources to ease stress.