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Girls In Cycle Of Violence

GIRLS as young as 13 are being beaten and sexually abused by boyfriends.
The violent relationships have emerged through therapy with child protection workers.
Some young victims are turning to alcohol or illicit drugs to try to numb the pain.
The destruction of innocence has been linked in part to earlier puberty and sexually charged advertising pitched at young audiences.
Department of Human Services worker Rebekah Oppenheim said some children were forced to deal with experiences beyond their maturity level.
The art therapist works with girls aged 10 to 17 staying at the DHS Young Women's Secure Welfare Service, a short-term residential unit.
Ms Oppenheim said many abuse victims and perpetrators were caught in a cycle of violence and crippling health problems such as depression and self-harm, after witnessing parents or others in damaging relationships.
Her comments coincided with White Ribbon Day on Saturday.
Men, including all male candidates in the Victorian election, have been invited to wear a white ribbon on Saturday as a symbol condemning unacceptable behaviour.
Men's Referral Service counsellor Bruce Colcott said all men should stop and think about their relationships with women.
Abuse could also include screaming, putting down partners and the silent treatment.
"It's uncomfortable and shameful but we are going to put it out in the open and address it," Mr Colcott said.
Women's Information Referral Exchange volunteer Erin Dolan said victims were often unclear about what comprised unreasonable conduct.
Some abusive men controlled household purse strings to wield power rather than using their fists, Ms Dolan said.
Men's group No To Violence manager Danny Blay said one in four women experienced violence in a relationship.
"Women are injured, tormented or sometimes killed every day," he said.
The largely hidden problem cost $8 billion a year nationally.
Victoria Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Leigh Gassner said family violence generated huge community fallout such as mental health problems, drug and alcohol dependence, and youth crime and homelessness.
A domestic violence survivors' art exhibition, Inside Out, runs from November 27 to December 8 at the Queen Victoria Women's Centre, 210 Lonsdale St, Melbourne.
The Women's Information Referral Exchange can be contacted on 1300 134 130.
For the Men's Referral Service call 9428 2899, or 1800 065 973 for men in country areas.
White ribbons can be bought at Harvey Norman and Body Shop outlets.

Herald Sun (23-11-2006)
Karen Collier

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