Domestic harm kept from view

By CHRIS LYNCHchrisl@gladstoneobserver.com.au

HOW much do you know about domestic violence in Gladstone?

Ethics protecting victims prevent the media reporting individual incidents, and one Gladstone police ser-geant said unless people were directly involved they were often oblivious to just how much of it goes on.

"It varies, from time to time you can have three or four in one (eight hour) shift, some days you don't have any,'' Sergeant Paul Ruge said.

When broken down, four reports in one eight-hour shift meant as many as one suspected case of domestic violence was reported in Gladstone every two hours.

Then there are the cases that go unreported.

"Sunday seems to be the day we get a lot of domestic cases. It might be a result of what happened the night before with people going out drinking or a number of other factors.

"Alcohol is a real problem. It can be any time day or night, you can get couples who have stayed up until 4am drinking and then things turn sour.

"A lot of people don't realise things like conflicting brothers and sisters or parents and children, or even carers for handicapped people are all included in the new laws relating to domestic violence.''

People who have dated each other but not necessarily maintained a relationship also fall under the new definition.

Sgt Ruge said the issue took up vast amount of police resources, and that they were often the worst cases to respond to.

"Police are always conscious when walking into those situations because often emotions are running really, really high. "A relationship could be disintegrating for example, and you don't know how someone will react when you walk into that situation.

"It can be a simple argument or it can be the worst degree of violence imaginable.

Sgt Ruge said a large percentage of police officers killed in the line of duty were killed after trying to help in domestic violence cases.

"We also get cases where both parties turn on police. You can find yourself with the person you've turned up to help hanging off your back.



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