Denise Ingram with a portrait of her son which she hung in her office while working as a Youth Welfare officer.  She said her son helped remind her that domestic violence situations can also be difficult for parents.
Denise Ingram with a portrait of her son which she hung in her office while working as a Youth Welfare officer. She said her son helped remind her that domestic violence situations can also be difficult for parents. Liana Walker

Former councillor shares her domestic violence experience

IMAGINE your grandmother arriving at your home to take care of your mother, believing she had been injured in a fall in the bath - because that's what your father had told her.

Yet only moments earlier you had witnessed your drunken father belt up your mother because she prepared dinner half-an-hour too early.

The injuries don't add up but your grandmother doesn't ask questions.

Imagine this happened on a regular basis and you believed this situation was normal.

Stanthorpe resident Denise Ingram doesn't have to imagine any of it as she was a child of domestic violence and lived through the experience.

May is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month which aims to raise community awareness of the issue which is something Mrs Ingram is passionate about.

As well as watching her mother be beaten by her father, Mrs Ingram and her sisters were often hit by their mother.

"As an adult I'm aware it was domestic violence but at the time I wouldn't have been aware,” she said.

"You never told anyone about it, you never thought to tell anyone.”

Mrs Ingram used her experience as motivation to help other victims of domestic violence. Since moving to Stanthorpe in 1991 she has worked as a youth health worker at Stanthorpe Hospital, as a student welfare officer at Stanthorpe High School and as a councillor for the Stanthorpe Shire Council and the Southern Downs Regional Council.

She said she believed wanting to help other people was common for children who grew up in domestic violence situations.

"You want people to know you care,” she said.

"Because you cared for your mother but you couldn't help what was happening.

"You're trying to help, you're trying to stop stuff, but you're also looking for some sort of validation.

"That's probably why I did that, you become the champion of the little people.”

Manager of Community Development Services Inc Stanthorpe Anna Walker said in the last quarter they were presented with 29 cases of Domestic and Family Violence which accounted for almost a third of all of their cases.

"The statistics were significantly higher in the period January to March,” Mrs Walker said.

"This may be attributed to the financial pressures of Christmas and return to school at the end of January.

"Domestic violence is seen across all our demographics and across generations in this community.

"I think the statistics speak volumes - one quarter to one third of the people we support are effected in one way or another by this issue.”

In the past year the Darling Downs Police district has dealt with anywhere from 64 to 111 cases of domestic violence protection order breaches every month.

Stanthorpe Police Senior Sergeant Gerard Brady said there was no set pattern as to how many cases they see in Stanthorpe.

From January 1 to now, there's been 69 reports investigated by Stanthorpe Police. That's up from last year's 50 over the same period, 53 in 2016 and 50 again in 2015.

"We can go a week without having one then a week with seven,” Sgt Brady said.

"It's certainly one of those issues in my experience I've found if it isn't dealt with it only ever gets worse.

"As police it's one of the most dangerous jobs we attend due to high emotion and often it's tied in with substance abuse - not always, but often.”

Looking back Mrs Ingram said she wished she had told someone about her situation and urged anyone who is in a domestic or family violence situation or was concerned about somebody they know to contact police or the Community Development Services Inc on 4681 3777.

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