Jade and Siena, our older girls, seem to be fine and are back to school. Saige, our 21 month old, is still a little sick with a stomach virus. Her symptoms are improving but she is still low energy. I know from previous experience that young kids take longer to rebound after stomach illnesses so hopefully, she will be alright.
Meanwhile, our housekeeper came to work today very distraught, almost in tears. “What’s the matter?” I asked. She proceeded to tell me.
She just moved into a studio apartment with her two girls, all in an effort to escape the violence in her family home. She was living with her parents, six sisters, several brothers-in-law and fifteen kids in one house. The fighting was intolerable. So was the domestic violence. The brothers-in-law beat the sisters and the sisters, in turn, beat the kids. They even beat my housekeeper’s young daughters when she wasn’t there.
Getting her own apartment was a big stretch financially, but my housekeeper really wanted her girls to grow up in peace. Their father used to beat her before she left him, so these little girls have already lived with way too much violence in their short lives. They are four and six.
Our housekeeper searched all over to find a decent apartment she can afford. She was so excited when she found it and finally moved in. Her very own home, for the first time in her thirty six years of life!
Imagine her dismay when not only did the neighbors on her right throw a huge loud party on a Monday night until 5 am, but she also had to lay there and listen as the neighbor on the other side, a mother to three young kids, beat her kids mercilessly for hours. She even beat the thirteen month old and banged his head against the bed when he cried. My housekeeper and her girls laid awake all night listening to the crying, screaming and horrible violence. Through her tears, she told me that she didn’t know what to do. She feels so helpless, listening to a baby cry in terror of his own mother. She thought about calling the police but wasn’t sure that they would do anything.
I put our housekeeper in touch with out nanny’s mom, who works with domestic violence. Apparently, she can report the woman to the police. Whether they will do anything is another matter. And what my housekeeper’s life will be like in the new apartment with an angry neighbor who doubtless will not appreciate being reported to the police, is also a big question mark.
It’s really horrific. I can’t get the image out of my mind of a baby, even younger than Saige, being beaten so mercilessly by his own mother. What is that baby learning about life? What kind of a future will he have? What will he do with his pent-up rage? Beat his wife and kids?
Sometimes the realities of life here are really harsh. And heartbreaking.