The Pain of Innocents

By Suni Toor

May 11, 20195 Minutes

Today’s visit to the one-stop crisis center is as bitter-sweet as any other. I love seeing the incredible people who work here, ceaselessly providing a glimmer of humanity for the most needy of our world. What I don’t love is the rising feeling of anticipation for what I will be confronted with.

Im told about the first case and I immediately have to refocus my thinking and shift my emotional response to stay attentive, instead of reactive. The first patient summary goes as follows: Raped by a family member – most likely an uncle/step father/brother. As soon as the pregnancy showed, the mother flew into panic and beat the daughter, probably in the hope of causing a miscarriage, but mostly trying to conceal the abuse.


When no miscarriage could be provoked, the daughter was dumped outside a public hospital. The girl, beaten unconscious, delivers her son, far too many months premature. The boy is immediately adopted out whilst the emergency staff dealing with the beaten girl prepare her for a life alone, now that her family has disowned her. The girl’s age: 14 years. The reports go on: A 12-year-old who is five months pregnant…Endless battered women, victims of trafficking, sex slaves, dowry victims, women scarred beyond recognition from acid attacks. Countless victims of incest…all here seeking help and safety, and often slipping into a spiral of depression and hopelessness.


Over a year, this place will receive thousands of women and children, desperately hoping for essential care, for a short while at least. For many of them, the future outside of the center holds more of the same of what got them here. The cycle seems to never end. I look at the women who run this place, knowing that they live each minute engulfed in the pains of innocents. Here, there is no place to hide from the glaring cruelness of mankind. And in the tired yet still sparkling eyes of this team, I see the best that humanity has to offer. I feel humbled and inspired by their dedication to help others. The compassion that drives so many acts of kindness seems to come from a place that can only be sourced amongst such need.


Even with my training in resilience, I feel the weight of guilt, responsibility and the need to act. I shift my perception again, take some deep rhythmic breaths and say out loud, ‘what can I do to help?’ The staff that I’m here to support, all smile and nod. They’re incredibly grateful for the extra support. For them, the work never stops.

Suni Toor

Has a multidisciplinary background in sociology, psychology and philosophy, with a PhD in law. Her main expertise is working with female offenders and vulnerable victims as well as governments, NGOs and police officers in developing policies and training to respond to the needs of the vulnerable. She is a board advisor to Frontline Mind.