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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

The Connection Between Domestic Violence and HIV

By Candace Y.A. Montague

October 18, 2010

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Domestic Violence is a pattern of behavior used by someone to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation. It happens between people who are, or have been, in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence often includes the threat or actual use of violence. It happens when one person believes they are entitled to control another. In 2009, 4,796 people were served at the two Domestic Violence Intake Center locations in DC. The way it can lead to HIV infection is commonly through sexual abuse.

The basis of many domestic violence cases is gender-based biases that oppress women and prevent them from protecting their sexual health. These inequalities directly and indirectly lead to the spread of the virus.

  • Inability to negotiate with a partner- If the man (or lead partner) decides he is not interested in using protection during sex and has a history of verbal or physical violence, the woman may fear insisting on condom use.
  • Lack of financial independence- In some instances, the man makes more money, pays more of the bills and/or provides a residence for the woman and her children. This kind of power says to the abuser "I am in control. She can't go anywhere because she can't afford it. What I say goes". He doesn't have to hit her to be the abuser. It's all about the control.
  • Fear of being punished or abandoned for being HIV positive (even if the woman contracted it from her current abuser)- Women may live in fear of disclosing their status to their abuser because he might blame her for contracting it 'you must have cheated on me'. He may also leave her for being HIV positive.
  • Forcing the victim to engage in unsafe sexual acts or injection drug use with other partners- This may be the case in terms of prositution where the 'pimp' may threaten violence if the woman doesn't engage in unprotected sex acts. She may be forced to use injection drugs as way to control her through addiction.

To see a list of other ways that domestic violence can put a victim at risk for HIV, click here.

There are many resources and places in DC to get help with domestic violence including shelters. No woman, regardless of her financial, living situation or HIV status, has to suffer from violence. The Metropolitan Police Department is a great place to start. Click here to see what they can do for you. If you need help finding shelter, resources, or legal advice, click here.

If you're looking to get involved, check out The DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Get help if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence. Love doesn't hurt.

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See Also
What Did You Expect While You Were Expecting?
HIV/AIDS Resource Center for Women

 

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Candace Y.A. Montague

Candace Y.A. Montague

Candace Y.A. Montague has been learning about HIV since 1988 (and she has the certificates from the American Red Cross to prove it). Health is a high priority to Candace because she believes that nothing can come of your life if you're not healthy enough to enjoy it. One of her two master's degrees is in Community Health Promotion and Education. Candace was inspired to act against HIV after seeing a documentary in 2008 about African-American women and HIV. She knew that writing was the best way for her to make a difference and help inform others. Candace is a native Washingtonian and covers HIV news all around D.C. She has covered fundraisers, motorcycle rides, town hall meetings, house balls, Capitol Hill press conferences, election campaigns and protests for The DC Examiner.com and emPower News Magazine.

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