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Little Ears, Big Listeners

April 19, 2015

We are downstairs in the basement;
My parents think we are watching TV
For all they know, that is all we care about.
We hear the screams and the bitter names they call each other.
We listen closely for the slamming.
With the slamming we would come upstairs.
My sister would complain of her stomach.
I would say she threw up.
My parents’ attention would be on her and the fighting would stop.
We don’t have to talk to know this is our job.

At school we can’t concentrate.
We worry about our parents and not being there to protect them.
The teacher says my sister is a daydreamer and doesn’t get her work done.
I see a boy and he likes me but he is mean to me.
I think I like him and if I like him enough, he will be nice.
I let him touch me because he says he will like me more.
Another girl called me a slut but I don’t know what that means.
The boy is losing interest in me and that makes me feel alone, again.
The police were at my house by the time I got home.
We couldn’t save our parents.

I feel badly for not being there that time.
I worry when I am not there, who will protect them.
I am told I need to go to counseling.
I don’t understand. They don’t understand.
The scars on my legs and wrists make me feel better.
It helps me from feeling I am not being good enough.
I should be able to protect my parents.
My sister really did throw up.
She says it makes her feel better too.
We both can hear them, all the time, even when they think we don’t.



Remember, even when you think they are not… they are.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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  1. So sad but true and something I see regularly in my practice. The good news is that these situations can be turned around with a good counselor who actually addresses the issue of domestic violence.

  2. Thanks for “liking” and “sharing” this blog post on behalf of children. If you or someone you know is in a violent relationship, please get help. If you are truly feeling unsafe, contact a women’s shelter and ask for guidance. BTW – men as well as women can typically receive that kind of guidance from women’s shelters by phone, at least here in Ontario. As long as it is safe to do so, you can also look into attending couple counseling to learn productive ways to manage conflict and resolve underlying issues. If you are in a relationship marked by some degree of violence and you are looking for couple counseling, please read this article first:

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