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Women's refuge worker Mandy Weaver
"They're encouraged to make choices about their lives and to move forward"
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Thursday, 25 November, 1999, 07:30 GMT
Younger women escaping domestic violence
Drugs, drink and unemployment are blamed for domestic violence

Women's refuge workers have claimed the average age of women seeking to escape domestic violence is getting lower.

The Home Office has declared a national millennium campaign to end domestic violence.

But workers in Newport - where a conference aimed at domestic violence is taking place - have spotted a big increase in the number of very young mothers escaping domestic violence.

Experts convening for the conference in Newport believe the problem lies with their partners.

Young men are believed to be becoming more abusive and violent because of a mixture of drug-taking, drinking and unemployment.

But refuge workers in Newport believe that more very young women are seeking to escape domestic violence.

Refusing to tolerate abuse

They believe younger women are refusing to tolerate abuse for years in the way previous generations suffered.

Nineteen-year-old Jane is the mother of a six-month-old son. She has been living in the Newport refuge for a couple of months after experiencing violence from her former boyfriend.

She said she would not have left her home in the Gwent valleys if it had not been for him.

She is now living in a Women's Aid refuge where there are two other young women - one with four children - who have walked out on abusive partners.

Refuge worker Mandy Weaver
Refuge worker Mandy Weaver - herself a survivor of domestic abuse - is concerned about the increasing number of young women, often unmarried, who get beaten up and come for help.

"They're encouraged to make choices about their lives and to move forward," she said.

"The local authority and housing association help us as we help the women and the children to give them a fresh start."

Violence and imtimidation towards black and Asian women in Wales is also causing concern with two specialist refuges now open in Cardiff.

But Professor Russell Dobash - formerly of Cardiff University and now at Manchester - said while anger and violence among young men needs further study, the fact that younger women are saying enough is enough is encouraging.

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