Infuriated – it’s the only word I can think to describe the feeling that wells up in me when I open my email and begin reading the details about another youth coming into our care. Infuriated that another kid has experienced this. Infuriated that another adult thought it was okay to use a child as a sex object. Infuriated that all the adults who should have protected this child, have failed her so horrifically. Every time I get a new case there is such a mix of emotions: excitement to meet a new kid, hope that I’ll be able to bring a little joy to their lives (even if it’s only a few hours a week) and infuriation that I even have to have this job (because, if I’m being honest, I HATE that programs like mine even need to exist). In an ideal world, there would be no Love146 because adults would care for kids, not hurt them in the most horrific ways. I wouldn’t be sad if I didn’t have to have this job.
I never dreamed as a child of having this job when I grew up, because before I became a social worker I could never have imagined the horrors that awaited.
That doesn’t mean I’m not honored to be here. Ultimately it was a choice I made, but it’s a choice I wish wasn’t even an option. So, here I sit, reading case after case, meeting amazing young men and women who have endured trauma that, despite years of schooling, I cannot fully understand, wondering who they would be if adults hadn’t taken advantage of their very existence from ages so young I cannot even fathom why an adult would want something from them.
And now, I’m sitting emotional in Starbucks, and I look around to see if people notice. I wonder if this is that feeling that the youth I work with describe so often – the feeling that “everyone knows.”
Staff name has been withheld for protection