It's the kids
The kids kill me every time. I put my hands on my hips, cock my head, and watch a 4-year-old mimic me, realizing that in doing so, she's saying that she finally trusts me. And I think about wanting to protect her, from her father who hits her mother, from her mother who isn't the best parent in the world.
A 10-year-old who catalogs the abuse his mother has suffered, and lists it readily for her when she asks for clarification (even after I've told her not to treat him like a partner, and to let him be a kid). And the 7-year-old who has suffered more at the hands of a sick and twisted relative than I ever want to know about. Who looks up at me and hangs on my arm like I'm going to save her from all that.
I can deal with women in pain and crisis. Because they're adults. Theoretically they can help themselves; my job is only to listen and give suggestions. But the kids. There's no use in saying, "Things will be ok. I'll help keep you safe." Because I can't, and who knows if things will ever be ok?
I couldn't ever work just with kids. It's too heart-breaking. I think about them long after I've forgotten their mother.