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West Valley Focus

CANOGA PARK : Group to Warn Girls of Domestic Abuse

October 27, 1994|FRANK MANNING

A local organization dedicated to preventing family violence is planning to introduce a program in area high schools to educate students about the problem.

The pilot program, created by the nonprofit group Haven Hills, will be launched at several San Fernando Valley high schools early next year, said Betty Fisher, the group's executive director.

Fisher said the organization has learned from doing classroom presentations that many girls who are being beaten by their boyfriends don't realize they are victims of domestic violence.

"Violence in dating relationships is often interpreted (by the victim) as a sign (the abuser) really cares about her, or he wouldn't become that emotional," said Fisher.

The program, designed to help victims overcome denial and get help, is being funded by a $25,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Woodland Hills.

"We are very pleased to be able to lend a helping hand and applaud the direction that Haven Hills is taking in creating an extremely important program," said Otis L. Spencer, medical group administrator at the medical center, in a written statement issued by the hospital.

The program will train peer counselors how to spot victims of domestic violence, said Fisher. The counselors will also learn how to assist victims in getting help.

Peer counselors are preferred over adult counselors, Fisher said, because young people tend to confide more in people their own age.

Haven Hills, established in 1977, operates a shelter for battered women in the San Fernando Valley. It also has a 24-hour crisis telephone hot line and offers free counseling.

Fisher said studies indicate that in the United States a woman is beaten every 12 seconds, and that one of every two women will at some point in her life experience domestic abuse.

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