They suffer the cruelty of our care

SA society continues to betray traumatised young women who spiral into a life of drugs and abuse.

Preventing all forms of violence against women aged 18 to 25 is critical not only for their wellbeing but also as part of a broader strategy for curbing the very high rate of new HIV infections, particularly in this age group.

Young women in violent partnerships are at risk for HIV because they are unlikely to discuss condom use for fear of reprisals from their partners. And, despite this prevention imperative, poor, young women who use alcohol and drugs do not feature on violence prevention agendas, even though they are vulnerable to all forms of abuse and violence.

A 2009 study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology reported that close to 80% of women with substance problems have been exposed to abuse and violence, with the vast majority of these women reporting that this abuse first occurred during early childhood. Early abuse changes the brain’s reward circuitry and increases young women’s propensity to use substances as a way of numbing out unpleasant emotions and to cope with traumatic experiences.

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