Highland Lakes Family Crisis Center offers refuge for children and victims

JARED FIELDS • PICAYUNE STAFF

MARBLE FALLS — For 30 years, the Highland Lakes Family Crisis Center has provided shelter and support for victims of domestic violence.

Free and confidential, the center’s shelter serves about 150 children and more than 200 adults a year. About 500 more children in Burnet, Blanco, Llano and Lampasas counties receive counseling through the center each year.

“This community is really fortunate in that there’s a comprehensive system in responding to child abuse issues,” Executive Director Alma Lahmon said. “It’s about focusing on what that child and that family needs and responding the best way we can, collectively, to do that.”

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and each week, The Picayune is highlighting an organization that works on behalf of children.

The crisis center operates a 24-hour hot line that is open to anyone who might not know what to do or who to talk to if they’ve been a victim of domestic violence or rape.

The center also offers counseling services to people as long as they need it.

“A child may come in after an assault happened, and they’ve gone through the system, but they’re still dealing with the fact that (the abuse) happened to them,” Lahmon said. “Issues may come up later on, and that child up through adulthood may come through the facility.”

The center works on the preventative side with school districts to provide a healthy relationships curriculum.

Lahmon said one of the most important lessons for adults is to believe what a child tells them.

“It’s often not the stranger that’s going to be the person that perpetrates that crime; it’s typically someone known to the child,” she said. “Be open to believing the child when they do come forward and say something.”

Dismissing a child’s claim of abuse might come as a result of shock at what’s being said, Lahmon said.

“It takes a lot of courage to say, ‘This is the person who did this to me and this is what they did,’” she said. “It’s so important that child is heard. If not, it could be the child never speaks of it again, and they continue to be victimized.”

For more information on the center, visit www.hlfcc.org. The local hot line is open 24 hours at 1-800-664-3574.

jared@thepicayune.com