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HIV/AIDS Resource Center for Women
Michelle Lopez Alora Gale Precious Jackson Nina Martinez Gracia Violeta Ross Quiroga Loreen Willenberg  
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October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and PLWA Can Be Especially Vulnerable

October 15, 2012

Domestic violence awareness month poster

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Amidst the pink-washing of the month, October is also Domestic Violence Awareness month.

Domestic violence can take many forms and includes more than just physical assault. Domestic violence can include emotional abuse such as yelling, threats to harm you or your family, constant blame and criticism; physical abuse such as shoving/pushing, kicking, biting, punching, throwing things, hair pulling, or slapping; and sexual abuse, such as forcing you to do or submit to something you don't want to do, unwanted touching, rape, or sexual assault.

Domestic violence can occur between spouses, boyfriends and girlfriends, partners, same-sex partners, or any people involved in an intimate relationship. The most important things to remember is that you are not alone; you can always seek help; and that the abuse is not your fault.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in the United States:

  • One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime
  • An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year
  • 85% of domestic violence victims are women
  • Historically, females have been most often victimized by someone they knew
  • Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of non-fatal intimate partner violence
  • Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police

And people living with HIV/AIDS can be particularly vulnerable to domestic violence, especially when they tell their partner about their HIV status. This vulnerability to violence was made clear with the very tragic case of Cicely Bolden -- a woman living in Dallas who was killed by her boyfriend immediately after disclosing her HIV/AIDS status. While HIV/AIDS is far from a so-called "death sentence," many people, women especially, are prone to physical and sexual assault after they disclose their status. Many women's advocates recommend disclosing your status in a semi-public place where you can have a private conversation, but that you are not completely alone should you need help. Other tips include disclosing with a third-person present or over the phone.

If you think you are being abused or if you want to know more about resources in your area, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD). Or you can read more resources specifically on HIV and Domestic Violence at and The Well Project.

If you know of other resources, please add them in the Disqus comments section.

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This article was provided by Housing Works. It is a part of the publication Housing Works AIDS Issues Update. Visit Housing Works' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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