Drug abuse, especially opioids, is a culture-wide problem. It is estimated that about 130 people die daily in the US due to opioid overdose. While this statistic alone doesn’t capture the totality of of all substances use, it demonstrates the depths of the substance abuse crisis around the country. Sexual minorities, such as LGBTQ people, are often at higher risk for substance abuse issues, making these groups particularly vulnerable. Continue reading What You Need to Know About Substance Abuse in the LGBTQ Community
While abuse is often stereotypically portrayed in only one manner, as physical violence, there are actually several types of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is a problem that affects millions of people in all types of relationships — traditional marriages, same-sex partnerships, and relationships where there is no sexual intimacy involved. The United States Department of Justice defines domestic violence as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.”
Recently, a man I know was outed as a serial sexual harasser. I say “know” in a rather unfortunate sense: I’d been approached online by, went on a date with, and even kissed the guy a couple years ago. His too-forward sexual advances had always left a bad taste in my mouth.
When the revelations went live, with dozens of women telling stories of his disrespectful and aggressive behavior, I felt happy he was exposed, yet ashamed I hadn’t listened to my gut instincts. I blamed myself for overlooking his boorish behavior and letting my hope that he could end up being a decent guy take precedence over the warning bells clanging in my head.
Giving that man the benefit of the doubt was not my fault. And if you’ve stayed with an abusive partner, or even given a guy a second chance after he harassed you, it’s not your fault, either. The pressure to be kind, generous, and forgiving — especially as women — is drummed into our heads from birth.
The day after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified before congress about her experience of sexual violence in relation to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) received the highest number of calls in its 24-year history. More than 3,000 people connected with the network on September 28, part of a record-breaking increase in the number of survivors of sexual violence requesting services since the #MeToo movement began last year.
The outpouring of truth and support has been unprecedented. As countless survivors finally see their experiences reflected in the national conversation, we feel a moment of hope for renewed connection and healing. But this hope is accompanied by pain, as many survivors who do come forward experience backlash. Additionally, survivors have been increasingly exposed to potentially triggering, and seemingly inescapable news around recent, high-profile incidents sexual violence.
In an effort to raise awareness about domestic violence in the U.S. and across the globe, October has been designated Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This time of the year is an opportunity to deepen our understanding of these issues, share resources, and most importantly, support survivors. But, while it’s a great time to do so, it isn’t the only time.
“I promise I’ll change.”
These are four words most people in a relationship with an abusive partner have probably heard. Longed-for yet dreaded, the words can offer both hope and disappointment. Hope that things really will get better this time, and disappointment when, inevitably, the abusive behavior—whether emotional, physical, or verbal—begins all over again.
We’ve all heard that a leopard can’t change its spots. But what about an abusive partner?
Even the most dynamic of duos has the occasional fight. Whether it begins with “Who forgot to take the dog out?” or “Do I really have to go to your brother’s birthday party?”, having arguments is a common — and healthy — part of any relationship.
But in some cases, what we call an “argument” is actually something worse. Ever had a partner who criticizes everything you do? Who shouts and uses cruel language when they get angry (and they may fly off the handle a lot)? Who makes you feel like you’re wrong or “too sensitive” when you try to speak up?
The following is intended for readers 18+
The summer I was nineteen, I researched and wrote a travel guide to Italy, journeying from Venice to the Cinque Terre armed only with a sundress and my handy dandy Macbook.
It sounds pretty ideal, and it was—except for the constant, terrifying, enraging sexual harassment. From being groped on the train to being kissed non-consensually by hostel owners and bartenders, the summer left me tan, skinny, with killer calf muscles — and with a feeling of total disconnect from my sexuality. After months of constant, unwanted attention and physical violation, I felt that my sexuality had become a weapon used against me rather than something for my own pleasure.
You may see your friend crying, hear your friend’s partner make demeaning comments towards them, or notice they seem anxious around or afraid of their partner. Or your friend may open up to you on their own.
Knowing or suspecting that someone you care about is in an abusive relationship can be a deeply conflicting experience. You know it’s taking a toll on their mental and possibly physical health — and you want to help — but you may not feel equipped. You want to swoop in and “rescue” your friend, and yet you know you have to respect their right to make their own choices.
Despite these difficulties, it is possible to support a friend who is in an abusive situation — and often, a good friend’s support makes all the difference. Offering real support means putting our friend’s needs before our own desire to play the hero. It also means learning about the complex psychological effects of abuse.
We can understand the complexities of abuse by answering one common question: If this relationship is hurting my friend so much, why don’t they just leave? Continue reading Why Doesn’t My Friend Leave Their Abusive Partner – and How Can I Help?
The following is intended for readers 18+
I was sitting on my couch, watching him sleep, sleep oh so peacefully, in my bed. It couldn’t have been rape, I thought, no one rapes someone and then sleeps over. I’d been waiting for the sun to come up, my computer on my lap, searching the internet for the closest Planned Parenthood. The air in my studio apartment felt thick and soggy. I don’t remember the weather, the season, only that I felt bone cold and at the same time like my skin was made of fire and would burn anyone who tried to touch it. He hadn’t used a condom, hadn’t listened when I’d said I didn’t want to have sex. I was confused by the slow and metered breaths moving in an out of my mouth; I felt calm, pragmatic even. I needed a morning after pill, I needed to get information about being tested for STDs. If it had been rape, I wouldn’t be making lists, I’d be a wreck, I thought. Continue reading It’s Never Too Late to Share A Story of Sexual Assault