WORLD AIDS DAY – DECEMBER 1st

Hi Readers!

Every year on December 1st is World AIDS Day. On this day, we remember those who have died from AIDS, we show up to support those living with HIV and we continue to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS.

The objective is to end HIV by 2030! To do this the global community will need to once again defy expectations. Achieving the funding required to end the AIDS epidemic will require renewed commitment, innovative financing and an intensified strategic focus. 

We want everyone living with HIV to have access to treatment that will extend their life expectancy and improve their health. Investments will have to be made by each country, especially those with a high diagnosis rate. 

“Continued investments will be needed to build the capacity of health and community systems to reach the ambitious goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Importantly, quickening the pace of scaling up essential HIV treatment and prevention services will, in and of itself, result in substantial benefits to broader health systems. In addition to helping sustain the AIDS response, investments in HIV programmes will have the potential to transform national capacity to address other health priorities, such as noncommunicable diseases, maternal and child health, emerging diseases and outbreaks of infectious diseases.”UNAIDS

Reports from UNAIDS : The number of people living with HIV in 2030 could rise to 41.5 million if treatment and prevention services are kept constant at the 2013 level (current coverage). Conversely, if ambitious targets are met by 2020, the number of people living with HIV in 2030 would decline to 29.3 million. Much greater emphasis will be needed on community service delivery. According to recent consultations with countries and experts, 95% of HIV service delivery is currently facility based. 
To optimise efficiencies, UNAIDS projects that community-based service delivery will need to be ramped up to cover at least 30% of total service delivery. Not only will community service delivery reduce costs, but by bringing services closer to the people who need them, community service delivery will also improve service uptake.

To help raise awareness, in the next couple of weeks, you will find awareness videos to purchase in the shop section. These videos are great for teachers and parents who would like to raise awareness with teenagers and young adults, support group facilitators, community engagements workers please find activities related to HIV awareness on the shop page. 

Be kind to one another.

Julia, Sexologist

** We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health.
To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful. Paypal.me/juliasexologist

October – Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Hi Readers!

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Therefore, this blog post is to raise awareness about domestic violence. 

***Please note that the use of him/her/theirs is not used to stereotype. Abusers can be male, female, non-binary, etc. This statement is also applicable to the victims. 

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence involves a dynamic in which one partner uses a variety of strategies to gain or maintain control over the other. Domestic violence is characterised above all as coercive control exercised in various spheres, but also by the frequency and severity of violent behaviour. Although it can be exercised by both sexes, studies show that it is generally experienced by women and perpetrated by men. Domestic violence is a chosen way to dominate the other person and assert power over them, and not as a loss of control.

Situational marital violence occurs during conflicts or ad hoc disputes between two partners and is said to result from an inadequate response to the stress, exasperation and anger resulting from conflicts in the couple. Situational violence can be minor or severe, frequent or isolated. Domestic violence is primarily defined on the basis of a set of violent acts between partners, whether criminal or not, minor or serious, without necessarily taking into account the context in which these acts are committed and the underlying motivations. This is attributable to the limits of the measurement tools used in these studies, which do not allow us to clearly define violence from a perspective of empowerment versus control. Studies conclude that this type of violence is generally more likely to be reciprocal and less likely to escalate and cause injury.

Domestic violence or an argument between a couple

It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish domestic violence from the quarrel. In all couples, in times of anger and frustration there can be hurtful words, disparaging comments and other aggressive behaviour. Usually these episodes are occasional and do not fit into a repetitive cycle in which one partner dominates the other.

We will talk about domestic violence when such acts are common and are part of the relationship dynamics of the couple. In addition, there may be the search for control and power over the other that will persist over time. The victim will not dare speak out or openly oppose their spouse for fear of said spouse’s reactions, consequences or reprisals. Fear and helplessness are important clues in distinguishing domestic violence from a couple bickering.

Here are the different forms of domestic violence as well as their characteristics and the ways in which it manifests itself:

TYPESATTRIBUTESMANIFESTATIONS
Psychological violence• Difficult to separate from verbal abuse
• Subtle
• Difficult to detect by the entourage and by the victim
• Devaluation of the other
• Contemptuous attitudes and words
• Blackmail and implicit or explicit threats (suicide, kidnapping or killing children)
• Negligence
• Social isolation, control of going out and dating (relational control)
• Violence against objects and animals
Verbal violence• Often trivialised
• Most often accompanies other forms of violence
• Used to intimidate, humiliate or control others
• Sarcasms, insults
• Howls
• Degrading and humiliating remarks
• Blackmail and threats
• Suddenly responding orders
Physical violence• The most publicised
• Injuries often disguised as accidents
• Knocks and pushes
• Burns and bites
• Exercise physical restraint
• Homicide
Sexual violence• Often hidden due to taboos
• The least denounced
• Most often accompanied by other forms of violence
• Sexual assault and sexual touching
• Imposition of degrading acts or unwanted sexual practices
• Harassment, intimidation, manipulation or brutality with a view to having sex without consent
• Sexual disparagement
• Sexual and reproductive coercion
• Marital rape
Economic violence• Widespread, but little known
• Impediment to financial independence, even when the victim is employed
• Deprivation or control of financial and material resources (control budget and spending for basic needs, demand accountability, seize income, identity cards or passports, etc.)
• Control and supervision of economic activities
• Creation of financial dependence (eg ban from working)
• Excessive expenditure that jeopardises the family budget

The cycle of domestic violence

The cycle has four phases: tension, aggression, justification and reconciliation. This cycle sets in slowly and gradually. You can understand that this is getting dangerous, because it is also a way to manipulate and change the dynamics of the couple quietly without showing big changes. Partners who experience domestic violence experience fear, shame, guilt, doubt and helplessness.

The cycle is repeated several times with accelerating velocity. Manifestations of violence also tend to intensify over time and does sometimes end in spousal homicide. The more it is repeated, the shorter the phase of “reconciliation”, before it disappears all together.

The victims

Several factors make it difficult to break the cycle of domestic violence, including:

  • Fear of reprisals
    • They are afraid of threats made by their spouse. Some even fear for their own life and that of their children.
    • They are afraid of taking legal action, whether to denounce their spouse or to separate from them. They are afraid that the violence will increase. Many victims believe that the laws will not, following a possible separation, offer them adequate protection against the aggressor.
  • Social isolation
    • Through their controlling behaviours, the abuser often prevents their victim from maintaining relationships and contacts with relatives and friends. They denigrate people who could help or simply forbid their spouse from hanging out with them, leaving the victim without social resources and completely isolated. Some do not get the support of family and friends and do not know about victim support resources that can help them and their children.
  • Fear of judgment
    • They fear the judgment of family, friends and caregivers. They feel like we won’t believe them. They don’t feel the strength to face the comments.
  • The constant hope that the spouse will change.
    • The experience of violence in a romantic relationship is a traumatic and overwhelming experience. Because violent behaviour is accompanied by justification and making the victim the source of the problem, it becomes difficult for the victim to question the relationship. They also have hopes that things will change. They believe in their partner’s promises of change, hope that their love for him will change him. They believe it will change if they change their own behaviour.

Issues of separation in a context of domestic violence

Ending a relationship in the context of domestic violence is a long process that can have certain dangers. Studies show that separation is one of the most dangerous times for victims, as some spouses can become aggressive and put their partner’s life in danger. Separating from a partner with violent behaviour does not necessarily end the violence.

What makes them manage to leave the abuser

The final departure of a person experiencing spousal violence is a long process necessary to gradually loosen the hold the abuser has on their victim. It is often at the end of a long journey, marked by ambivalence, that victims manage to break the cycle of domestic violence. Experiencing the cycle of violence over and over often makes abused people ambivalent, not knowing whether to leave or stay. Often times, they leave to see if they can survive outside of the relationship. In some cases, they come back to see if the relationship can change. This evolutionary process helps lift victims out of the cycle of violence.

It takes an average of eight times for a female victim to leave her partner before leaving him permanently.

Main reasons that women permanently leave their abusive partners:

  • Knowing that there is help available for them and their children
  • Recognise the impact of domestic violence on children
  • The violence exceeds their critical tolerance threshold (threshold differs from one woman to another)

I hope this article has helped to shine a light on the issue of domestic violence and has made you more aware of what to lookout for. I will be putting out an article on some of the different resources available for victims of domestic violence. 

Be kind to one another

Julia, Sexologist 

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

5.00 £

Talking to children about consent

Hi Readers!

Do you like fries? I love fries! I promise this is relevant. Today we are going to talk about consent; more specifically, why it’s important to teach children about consent from a young age. I will give you some tips on how to do it.

Consent is when someone is explicitly agreeing (by choice) to an experience, whether it is sexual, touching, kissing or hugging. Every person has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.

So… going back to my F-R-I-E-S.1Consent has to be:

F reely given (the person doesn’t feel pressured, coerced or obliged to say yes);

R eversible (the person can change their mind in the middle of the experience and that doing so is their right);

I nformed (knowing all of the facts before agreeing to something);

E nthusiastic (the person is happy to say yes, there is no confusion or doubt);

S pecific (the person is agreeing to something specific; if there is something else involved they must explicitly agree to that, too).  

Now that you know how important consent is, you should think about this framework every time you give consent and feel confident and enthusiastic about saying yes. But, if you have answered no to any of the statements above you should not be giving your consent as you probably don’t know enough about the situation or don’t feel comfortable.

Clearly, explaining F-R-I-E-S to toddlers and very young children may not be that easy. I suggest you try explaining it to them as simply as possible; you know your child, children or your classroom best. Kids also learn through experience, so giving examples and going through this more than once will be beneficial.

Respect a child’s wishes when it comes to hugging, kissing, cuddling and tickling. The only exceptions are in matters of safety; for example, if a child needs to be restrained from hurting themselves or others. The big example here is ensuring that they are not forced to hug or kiss anyone, even grandma. Children need to choose their level of contact based on their level of comfort. While this may sound outrageous to some, as we usually greet people (especially grandma) with a hug and/or a kiss, why should we force children to say hello in this way or do anything else if they do not feel comfortable? To do so is to teach a child that a familiar person can touch them even if they don’t want them to and could lead to a child being unsure of what to do in an inappropriate situation. This completely goes against the F-R-I-E-S concept and the definition of consent.

If a child doesn’t want to greet someone with a kiss or a hug, teach them to ask for a high-five or a fist bump. And if that still makes them feel uncomfortable, a wave and a smile is perfectly fine, too! As long as your children are respectful and kind to others, does it really matter?

It is normal for children to want their own space sometimes and children are also allowed to set their own boundaries.

It is important to teach children the correct language for their body parts. I know it can feel embarrassing but using code words with you child (usually said in a lower voice) will in turn make you child feel embarrassed about using the appropriate words. We should be breaking the stigmas surrounding body parts by using their actual names. This also avoids any misunderstandings, especially if they need to tell an adult that something happened to them.

It is important to teach children that their bodies are their own and that no one has the right to touch them unless they ask for help. For example while toilet training, children may need help wiping their bum. It is important to start a habit of asking the child “would you like some help?” Look, I get it, most of the time it’s easier for an adult to clean up as the child may make more of a “mess” but this is how we learn, right?

Even if it is something as simple as adjusting a piece of clothing or cleaning their face because they have something on it, ask them first! Empower your child to make that choice. Obviously if they are harming themselves or someone else, you need to act fast! Use common sense.

Even though you shouldn’t have to, as a parent, you may find yourself having to explain to your friends and family that you are teaching your child about boundaries and consent if your child chooses to greets them with a high five. Might I suggest you send them this post and I’ll explain it to them for you.

Teaching the importance of reporting

You must teach your children that if someone violates their body, touches them inappropriately or crosses their boundaries, it is not their fault and that they need to tell an adult. Explain why it is important by going through the F-R-I-E-S concept.

These are lessons and reminders that need to be given often, consent is not a one-and-done concept. Many children know that they should immediately report to an adult they trust. That being said, it is important to continue having these discussions with your older children and teens as they may need reminding about what is not okay and who they can speak to about a violation of their privacy, body and boundaries.

Please take a few minutes to watch this video about consent for kids (and here’s one for adults too) and share it with your kids, family and friends. It is very easy for kids to understand this video but they may have some questions or you may wish to quiz them to make sure they understood what all this means.

If you have any more questions please contact me via email at depetrillojulia@gmail.com

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

1Planned Parenthood https://www.plannedparenthood.org/