SEEKING REFUGE: Domestic Violence worker Debbie Lightfoot-DeHammer said a shelter in Stanthorpe would provide a safe place for abuse victims. Photo: Debrah Novak/The Daily Examiner
SEEKING REFUGE: Domestic Violence worker Debbie Lightfoot-DeHammer said a shelter in Stanthorpe would provide a safe place for abuse victims. Photo: Debrah Novak/The Daily Examiner Debrah Novak

Hidden issues under spotlight

Most people grow up thinking there's no place like home, but an unlucky few believe there is no place worse.

Domestic violence (DV) worker Debbie Lightfoot-DeHamer has heard her share of harrowing stories about what she calls society's "hidden issues": homelessness, domestic violence and abuse.

While it may not be polite dinner conversation, Ms Lightfoot DeHamer said domestic violence had long been lurking in the shadows.

"I can go for weeks without seeing anyone. Then I'll see three people in a week," she said.

"It's a hidden issue in Stanthorpe. I think it's because of the culture of the district."

Ms Lightfoot-DeHamer said abuse affected men, women and children, but it left a particularly dark imprint on the lives of children drawn into the fray.

"People think of domestic violence as just physical, but it's the words that can really do the damage," she said.

The local DV worker said many young people would do anything to avoid going home - too often ending up in court or in juvenile detention.

"Kids see the fighting between parents and they don't know how to explain it," Ms Lightfoot-DeHamer said.

"Then they get into trouble for acting out because of their home situation.

"They're our leaders of tomorrow, and if they're not getting a good start in life, it ends badly."

Stanthorpe Police officer in charge Senior Sergeant Mark Ireland said various agencies, including Community Development Services, were available to support victims of abuse.

Ms Lightfoot-DeHamer is also available to lend an ear at the Community Op Shop between 10am and 3pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Anyone suffering from abuse is advised to seek help from the police and their doctor. If in immediate danger, call 000. Help is also available by phoning the Domestic Violence Crisis Line on 1800811811.

Stanthorpe Border Post

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