Not so silent scream…

Stop talkingIllustration 147365356 © Archivector –

We have new neighbours in our Belgian abode. We know them intimately even though we haven’t met them yet.  And no…we are not twitching curtains and peeking through our very high and dense hedge…

In my home life, my preference is for a quiet life.  Over in the coastal reaches, I know my neighbours…just enough. In fact, we are closer together (by way of meters) than we are in Belgium. We exchange pleasantries. Keep an eye out for each other, each other’s parcels, pets and parents… and, generally life proceeds at a reasonable volume and we all get along.

Can’t say the same for Mr. Angry and his wife/partner/concubine (her status varies…) who, in the land of Ned (a.k.a. Flanders) have moved in next door! Even with hermetically sealed windows, pouring rain and a fair offshore wind from Zeebrugge, we can still hear them screaming at each other. I don’t mean ‘a bit loud’. I mean blood-curdling, ear-splitting invective!!

word for word…

some words you really don’t want to hear…

Don’t get me wrong…all couples disagree.  And yes, they argue. Sometimes voices are raised and frustration is expressed. That is of course part and parcel of married life, or life in general…

This is not what is happening here!

Under other circumstances, I would probably turn my stereo on max, light the fire and generally ignore what was going on with other people. Believe me, I have enough of my own shizzle to deal with.  In this case, I am seriously concerned. 

He is a dangerous man. She gives as good as she gets. And perhaps we should leave it there?

I can’t.

She is also pregnant, and already has two very small boys who are routinely screamed at by both of them…because that is how you parent, don’t you? 

Half my readers will berate me for judging. The other half for not having kids of my own. Well, I may not be a biological parent…or a judge… but I am a human being. For me, this is not ok. It’s not ok whether you are a kid, or a grown up. It’s not ok on so many levels!!!

Which creates a dilemma for me…

I am concerned for the small people who have to experience this as regular life.

  • No, it is not normal for you to be told you are a ‘ball-sack’ when you are three years old!
  • No, it is not normal for you to be screamed at for jumping in the inflatable pool when it’s boiling hot outside.
  • No, it is not normal for the adults in your life to make you feel scared, unsafe and at fault.

I am concerned for her unborn child, and for her – seriously, if alcohol affects your foetus, why would stress hormones be any different?

And yes… I am concerned that her partner/husband/ass-clown (his status varies…) will move from verbal abuse to physical abuse.

What do I do?

Here are some facts*,**:

  • * Up to 36 per cent of women in Belgium have been assaulted physically or sexually.
  • And although the study shows that Belgium is about average in the EU when it comes to abuse, it was at the top when it came to violence committed in the past year.
  • Preliminary findings** show that more than 35% of all murders of women globally are reported to be committed by an intimate partner (husband/partner/ass-clown)

All of this troubles me. Despite advice to ‘leave it alone’ and ‘don’t get involved’.

I can’t.

I am resolved not to be the neighbour who ignored the silent screams.

* Source: European Agency for Fundamental Rights  ** Source: World Health Organisation: Femicide







I’ve just returned from a 2 week stint in South Africa – looking after my gorgeous nephew/godson, (5) and his equally gorgeous sister, (18 months) while their parents were away. I love them deeply and I’m more than a little melancholy I don’t get to see them as often as I would like. Which is funny, because I never wanted children of my own.

As a single, career-minded woman, I was happy to be the godmother/aunt/interested adult…as long as I could hand them back to their parents and go back to my own (semi-interesting) life.  Of course that all changed when the Tadpole (a.k.a. aforesaid nephew) was born, but I still had the luxury of hot-footing it back to corporate life and champagne-ville when it suited me. I quite enjoyed playing the role of not-so-wicked godmother!

Having learnt the entire theme song to Paw Patrol last week, along with reaching the dizzy heights of supercool stardom in Slugterra, I have also been reflecting on my role as an aunt and godparent. Parent– being the operative word.  It’s not something you prepare for. But damn…you need to be prepared.  For the questions, the challenges and the absolute clarity of a 5 year old.  For the high energy, instant requirements of a little 18 month old soul who is seeing things for the first time and demanding everything!

Which got me thinking.  In my other life, falling madly in love with The Belgian has also brought children into my life. They are not mine, but they are the most gorgeous boys. Two of them. When we first met, I was.. a single, career-minded woman happy to be the interested adult.  As long as I could hot-foot it back to corporate life and champagne-ville.  Of course that changed when The Belgian proposed. Suddenly, I faced the prospect of being a step-mother. I wasn’t prepared. I felt…wicked. In every sense of the word.

I hadn’t had kids of my own. How would I know what to do when they came home with bruised knees. Wicked!  There are loads of Brady-bunch type books on the market.  You know, the blended family, step-parenting-for-dummies publications that are totally – and I mean totally – geared towards those people who a) have been married before and b) are bringing their kids together. Eh?   What about me?   I simply could not relate. I wasn’t sure whether ‘stepmom’ was something I actually wanted. Even more wicked!  Yes, I am a single, career girl by choice. My career is still important to me, regardless of whether I do the school run or not. Wicked-er!  And yes,  of course I have never had kids so will probably not know how to parent.  Oh so, super-Wicked!

Nevertheless..I’m not half bad with small people, and despite my own misgivings, I will probably make a semi-cool parent. So far, I have presided over the funeral of the pet gerbil, given big hugs when disappointment strikes and taught the boys to love jelly and bacon.  I am prepared to take on someone else’s most precious possessions, along with their birth mother’s foibles. I am prepared to hug them, love them and make sure they are well-fed and watered.  I am there to tuck them in and cuddle them when they can’t speak to mom or dad. More importantly I am happy to spend my spare time, teaching them things they might not otherwise learn.  Getting them to make a perfect champagne-cocktail  however, might be some way off!