Family, Love & Violence

Raising our voices at the intersection of intimate partner violence & HIV by Tyeshia Alston

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domesticviolenceawarenesAmerica! The land of the free and the home of the brave. America the Beautiful should be outraged in knowing that our strong and brave troops, who went to foreign countries, stepped behind enemy lines and battled many wars, had more soldiers return home alive from war than women escape their homes alive.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful that our troops made it safely home because they represent the strength of America and they are the reason Americans can proclaim their strength. However, my heart dropped when I read this statistic in a 2014 Huffington Post article: “The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex-male partners during that time was 11,766. That’s nearly double the amount of casualties lost during the war.” This statement filled my heart with sorrow because it’s almost as if it’s safer and easier to dodge bullets and bombs on foreign land than to just show the simple action of love in the place that you call home.

What makes a man or a woman lift his or her hand to hurt the ones they love, I truly don’t know and it’s not my place or anyone else’s place to judge. However, my heart breaks for all those involved because everyone is hurting. I’m sure the need for control may be a factor behind the abuse but there’s no way that I can say that it is the only reason; nevertheless, I must humbly say that everyone needs to seek professional help. That same article, written by Alanna Vagianos, went on to state: “Worldwide, men who were exposed to domestic violence as children are three to four times more likely to perpetrate intimate partner violence as adults than men who did not experience domestic abuse as children.” Therefore, without professional help, the abuse can continue on.

In my opinion, people with disabilities should not have to endure any more pain than they have to. However, as the article states, “women with disabilities are 40% more likely to experience intimate partner violence—especially severe violence—than women without disabilities.” As a young woman, I grew up with my own disability. I was constantly in and out of, back and forth to the hospital because I was born with heart problems. Nevertheless, I was determined to never let it hold me back or keep me from keeping up with my peers. Yes, I had my own challenges and one of them was that everyone in my environment, particularly all the children at school, knew that I could not run fast before becoming short of breath. Therefore, they would always hit me and take off running—but they underestimated that I always had a strategy plan.

I’m saying this because it is extremely important that the victim creates a strategic and effective safety plan. A safety plan will help guide you to safely flee from danger into a confidential environment where you and your children can be safe. It does not matter if the victim is male or female. Yes, men are being abused by their partners, too, and we need to shed light on this issue as well. It’s time that we stop sweeping everything under the rug and start uniting to fix the problem.

If you do not know how to write a safety plan, contact a local domestic violence agency and they will be more than willing to assist you because your safety is a priority and your children deserve to be safe and they need for you to remain safe and healthy. “Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families….” and no child should have to experience being homeless.

People who are in abusive relationships are fearful of being hit again by their partner. Therefore, they tend to do all they can to keep him/her calm and satisfied. Trying so hard to please their mate, they never take into consideration the risk that they bring to themselves. It’s no secret that violence is painful but many people are clueless to the fact that violence can also lead to HIV infection. Let me make myself clear here: A person who is involved in a relationship that has fear attached to it is less likely to ask their abuser (primarily male) to use protection, such as a condom. Many victims are not only physically abused, they are also sexually abused, and when forced sex takes place it tends to cause cuts and bruises which allow HIV to have an easier access for transmission.

Additionally, women with HIV are more likely to become victims of domestic violence for multiple reasons, with one being they fear that their mate will reveal their HIV status.

Men and women of the LGBT community are “2.6 times (more likely a transgender person of color) likely to become a victim of intimate partner violence than a non-LGBT person.”

There is so much to be said about this subject but I cannot tell it all. Therefore, I am encouraging everyone reading that if they are in an intimate partner violence relationship, please seek help. Don’t Hide!


For more information, visit: www.opdv.ny.gov/professionals/health/hivaids.html. To learn more about the Don’t Hide campaign please visit: http://www.recoveryfirstcdc.com/.


Tyeshia Alston is an HIV-positive AIDS activist and educator living in Dallas, Texas. Ms. Alston strives to build hope, increase faith, and encourage others to live their best life. Ms. Alston is a mother of a handsome two-year-old boy. She is driven to educate others about HIV/AIDS by creating community awareness programs and providing HIV/AIDS services through her organization, SAAVED INC. Ms. Alston has traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak with legislators about better healthcare access and how the disease has impacted communities which she serves and has served on panels for National Minority AIDS Council and other local organizations. Lastly, she is known to others by bringing her message to local talk shows and radio stations, working to do her part in ending AIDS. To learn more about Ms. Alston’s work, go to www.saaved.org and if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email her at [email protected].

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