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"Mom, When It's You That Hurts Me Where Can I Go For Comfort?"

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  • I was 13 the year I spent my summer break with my married sister, Leah, her husband and their 5 small children.
  • Leah loved taking care of the babies when they were tiny, but often raised her voice at the older children or spanked them.
  • THIS ROOM IS SUCH A MESS! PICK IT UP NOW!!
  • Great hiding spot, Eric. We couldn't find you!
  • I had the natural ability to care for the older children and still help with the baby when needed. It was a good arrangement for both of us sisters.
  • For some reason Leah had become mean and it was better to keep myself and the children out of her way. I quickly learned that Eric, 8, was Leah's main target. One day I was upstairs when I heard Leah's voice rising to an unnatural volume and tone downstairs.
  • Leah: I just spent several hours washing and folding your clothes. WHY ARE THEY ON THE FLOOR? WHY AREN'T THEY PUT AWAY LIKE I ASKED YOU TO?
  • Eric: I don't know, Mom. Here, does this help?
  • He must have picked up the clothes and thrown them onto his bed.
  • I had been in this very situation many times myself and there's just no way to win, other than compliancy.
  • Oh, Eric, just do what she wants...just do what she wants...
  • Eric: NO, MOM! I'LL PUT THEM AWAY. I'LL DO WHAT YOU WANT!
  • Leah: You really think you're something, don't you? Well, maybe I need to beat that smart-aleck attitude out of you!
  • There was an eerie silence for a few seconds before she spoke again. Now her voice was low and threatening.
  • Too late. Eric's voice now sounded terrified. The hard SMACK, SMACK, SMACK interspersed with cries of pain, terror and rage.
  • As I stood there listening I wanted desperately to run down and save Eric from this unfair attack.
  • After all, I was the older one, and the self-proclaimed protector of the kids.
  • But... I was afraid. Terrified. A coward. Not a hero. So I froze. Ashamed.
  • Eventually, Eric was alone, defeated and crying and when I felt it was safe I quietly slipped down the stairs to hold and comfort him, gently rubbing the ugly welts that were forming on his small body.
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