I do residential electrical work. While working in a woman's home, I over heard the woman's mother in the next room tearing into the woman's son, probably 10 I would estimate. She was telling him how bad he was, worthless, how it was his own fault he had no friends (though she, the grandmother, was home-schooling him) and he would be a failure in life because of his personal flaws. As he cried louder and louder she kept at him. I've never heard such cruel and deliberate crushing of a person's soul. It was brutal. I think this whole horrid exchange was brought on by his attempts to have friendly conversation with me.
I re-think through this often. I don't know what I should have done or how I would do it differntly if it ever happened again. I didn't intervene. I felt certainly like I had no place to step into their home hired to do construction and dictate how they talk to one another. Lately I've felt haunted by sensing what impact this aweful grandmother had on this outgoing innocent boy.
I go from feeling I should have spoken up and tried to verbaly spar with the grandmother, but I fear when I left things woudl be worse for him. I think I should have mentioned it to the mom, but surely she knows, it didn't seem isolated or hidden. Maybe I should have said, "You're a monster to talk to him like that" and walked out... I think I should have contacted authorities, but despite how crushing and cruel she was, she was still a feeble old lady who didn't lay a hand on him physically. Sometimes I'll have an irrational impulse, that I should have yelled and shoved and made a huge deal out of it, get myself thrown out or have the police called on me for my actions... I still don't know what I should have done but I feel guilty for having done so little. All I did was be friendly back to the boy and I thought I conveyed with a look my understanding of what he was going through.
I'm haunted by my inaction. It was years ago, the grandmother was dying I believe and is probably long dead, and I'm not even a friend of the family, just someone hired to fix a few things around the house...action now is too late. But back then, What should I have done?