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.

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Gender Identity

Hi Readers!

Happy Monday! It’s great to be back on this platform. Today we are learning about gender identity! Let’s begin!

Gender Identity is a person’s internal sense or feeling of being male or female. This feeling may not be the same as one’s biological sex. To understand gender identity, you need to understand the difference between the terms sex and gender.

Gender is what you feel you belong to and may differ from the one you were assigned to at birth, based on your genitals.

Sex is about the genital and reproductive organs (penis, vagina, uterus, testicles, etc.), it is about the secondary sexual characteristics such as breasts, beard, hips, etc., it is the distinction between female and male.

By contrast, gender is the pronoun you use to speak to a person (him/her, he/she), it is the different social codes like the appearance, clothes, makeup, etc., it is the distinction between feminine and masculine.

Unfortunately, these terms are very rigid and binary. To be able to include and represent all of the diversity of gender identities, sexes and gender expression, we need to look at this in a more fluid way. Think of it as a horizontal ladder that represents diversity and so much more than just two options. Below we will look at gender identity, sex and gender expression. The words below are used to facilitate the reading. You can be anywhere on any of the ladders simultaneously as these 3 terms are mutually exclusive. If you do the exercise now and put a dot on every line where you are situated today, it may not be the same answer in a few days or months. Some individuals have a different response every day.

Gender identity

Woman                                                 Gender fluid                                           Man

Sex

Female                                                    Intersex                                             Male

Gender expression

Feminine                                               Non-binary                                  Masculine

There is an entire vocabulary to describe gender identity – let’s look at a few:

  • Bigender: Someone who identifies with two genders i.e.: male and female.
  • Cisgender or cis: When your gender matches the sex you were assigned at birth.
  • Gender fluid: when your identity moves around on the gender spectrum
  • Gender neutral: someone who doesn’t identify with any gender
  • Gender non-binary: Someone who doesn’t fit into the binary gender (male/female)
  • Gender fluid: When your identity moves around the gender spectrum. 
  • Gender expression: The way in which a person’s expresses their gender identity, typically through appearance, dress, and behaviour. 
  • Intersex: People whose biology doesn’t easily fit into male or female. This can include genitals, chromosomes or hormones. 
  • Polygender: describes people who have multiple genders at once. 
  • Transgender: A person whose gender identity, outward appearance, expression and/or anatomy does not fit into conventional expectations of male or female. 
  • Transsexual: An old fashioned term for someone who goes through, or wants to go through, gender realignment. This is why we use the word Trans* as it an umbrella term to describe people whose gender identity doesn’t line up with their assigned sex at birth. Also, if someone tells you they are a woman and would like you to use the pronoun she/her and her preferred name is ____. Respect that please. That person will really appreciate the fact that you are respecting their wish and you are not judging them.
  • Two-spirit: some Aboriginal people identify themselves as two-spirit rather than as bisexual, gay, lesbian or transgender. Historically, in many Aboriginal cultures, two-spirit persons were respected leaders and medicine people. Before colonization, two-spirit persons were often accorded special status based upon their unique abilities to understand both male and female perspective (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2011). 

I hope this has helped you understand some of the different terms that are out there and helped your mind to grow a little …. If you have any questions please contact me on depetrillojulia@gmail.com

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.

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“Sexologist? Ooohh what’s that?”

Hi Readers!

So, you might have heard loads of myths about Sexologists, what we do, what we studied, where we work, how can we help, etc. 

This blog post is to help you better understand our educational background, where we work and what our ‘actual’ job is. The following explanation is mostly based on what I have learnt, my experiences, people I have studied with or have met along the way. If you have read my bio or visited my LinkedIn profile, you know that I am from Quebec, Canada and studied at the only university (UQAM) that offers this specific bachelor’s degree in North America. The Province of Quebec even has a professional order for Sexologists. If you are interested, and can read French, you can check out their website (https://opsq.org/).

Please read this post to learn more about my profession as I try to demystify some of the commonly held misconceptions about what we do. #knowledgeispower

What is a Sexologist?

A sexologist is a trained professional with either a bachelor’s, master’s or PhD in Sexology. Our education focuses on understanding a person’s sexual behaviour, development, and well-being to maintain, improve or restore sexual health whether they be an individual, a couple, a family, a group or a community. Sexual health is a state of physical, mental, and social well-being; as such, Sexology is an interdisciplinary subject. As Sexologists, we are trained to implement educational and preventative programmes across several sexual health themes. During our studies, we learn about the history of sexology, contraception, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STI), HIV/AIDS, human anatomy, sexual dysfunctions, creation and evaluation of educational and preventative programmes, theoretical and practical courses on sexual health counselling and coaching. These are the subjects that help shape a Sexologist as a professional, which in turn gives us the tools to help individuals and society with sexual health issues. 

The sexologist role is to improve, maintain and restore people’s sexual health and may include the determination of an intervention plan that is implemented alone or as part of a multidisciplinary team, or in collaboration with other partners.

Where to find us

Sexologists can work in private practice, in health and social services institutions, in schools, in correctional facilities or in community settings and so many more.

So, there you have it readers! I hope this has helped you understand a little more about what a Sexologist is.

If you would like to improve, maintain, or restore your sexual health you can contact me for more details.

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist