Community stalwart takes own refuge

'He took the knife and pushed it into his stomach.' One of the hardest things to do with domestic violence is walk away.

But when the perpetrator of this incident threatened to kill himself if they left, Barbara Anderson and the victim kept walking although recalling the memory left her shaking. They later found out he had a phone book under his top, but the incident merely adds to the list of things Barbara has dealt with over the 20 years as co-ordinator of Gladstone's Louise Lodge Women's Refuge.

Last night her retirement party was at the Parish Hall with local dignitaries celebrating her contribution and dedication to the community.

Few have been a coordinator for 20 years. Barbara has had a hard time making people realise the good work her staff did.

"Dealing with people in crisis brings its own stresses,'' Barbara said.

'Frustrations come from not having the community support. It takes a long time to earn that support ? you have to show them what you do.

'It's breaking down that myth that women's shelters aren't run by radical feminists.'

The job and community support has come along way since Barbara started and there have been plenty of good times as well.

'The police had arrested this man and there was a baby of eight months and a three-year-old,'' Barbara said. "There was no food in the house - nothing. And the money had been spent on drugs.

'After they had stayed a few days the three year-old boy said to me 'I like this house... 'cause I can have bread.'

'The small things have been the most significant.'

Barbara said the families in plight hasn't changed and there's probably more domestic violence than ever, but thanks to Barbara, the facilities have been set up and more people can be helped.

Barbara is looking forward to retiring although she will continue to help with two other community groups.

She said she'll miss the camaraderie and opportunity to support the families but will enjoy spending more time with her husband and dog.

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