As Latinas, many of us have grown up with comments that suggest we could be responsible for the looming threats of violence against our bodies. Warnings that we ought to “cubrir” or else risk looking like we’re “pedirlo” have been hurled at us from doorways and living rooms from even our most early stages of adolescents. The intimations being that our decision to wear the “wrong” outfit could put us amongst the 321,500 victims who report an incident of sexual assault in the United States each year.
A recent exhibit created at the University of Florida called “What Were You Wearing?” illustrates that when a person’s body is violated, it is never because of something that they did or “asked for.”
Inspired by Mary Simmerling’s poem, What I Was Wearing, the exhibit curated stories from anonymous students who shared what they wore at the time of their assaults.
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The exhibit’s design is rather straightforward. Garments cling onto white sheets that feature the painful stories of sexual assault victims in a hall on UF’s campus. Lazaro Tejera, a UF student who had been inspired by similar projects initially launched by the University of Arkansas in 2013, selected anonymous stories from victims of sexual assault that detailed what they had been wearing when they had been attacked. Every display is accompanied by a recreation of the garments described. Everyday clothing from jeans and shorts to sweatshirts and pajamas hang next to heartbreaking stories that serve as an answer to the question of “what were you wearing during your assault?” that so many victims face during their attempts to seek help and support.
One display at the showcase highlights a woman’s pair of overalls next to her story. “I was wearing overalls and my favorite T-shirt,” the card pinned next to the overall says. “I went inside with them because it was summer and I was hot, and they said they had lemonade. I never wore overalls again.”
The display underlines the fact that it doesn’t matter what a person is wearing at the time of an assault.
The suggestion that a woman who wears provocative clothing is at fault for stimulating sexual aggression in men is something that Latinas have long been forced to endure. It’s an issue that is hardly helped by the fact that we are often targeted for hyper-sexualization. Take a look at the hyper-sexualized media coverage of Latinas and it’s easy to see. In 2013, after a 20-year-old woman filed a report that she had been assaulted inside of a club, the owner suggested in an interview to a local station that it was the victim’s fault because she had worn a skirt. “She’s dressed in an overcoat and underneath it, has a miniskirt on,” The owner, Andres Jaramillo told a local radio station at the time. “Well, what’s she playing at?”
Years earlier, in 2003, actress Sofia Vergara was forced to endure a barrage of disgusting comments from the now-disgraced comedian Bill Cosby who had suggested at the time that her clothing made him dangerously “excited.” “S-I-N is sin,” Cosby told Vergara during his interview with her. “Men look at you, and they only think of sin … Now what you have on tonight is wonderful. This is wonderful. And when you walked out, many, uh, many people became attentive.”
Sexual violence is a global problem not at all confined to the Latino community, but it is one that affects Latinas at high rates. Projections based on a recent U.S. Census has led researchers to believe that by 2050, 10.8 million Latinas living in the U.S. will have experienced some form of sexual violence.
There are three ways that abuse can be identified. By the way your partner treats you physically, by the way they treat you emotionally, and by how you feel about the relationship. This checklist of twenty signs of abuse is one tool that you can use to see if you, or someone you know, is a victim of abuse. And remember, more resources for dealing with abuse can be found by calling The National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 799 7233.
1. They have grabbed you and refused to let go.
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This falls into the category of physical abuse. No-one should grab you to make you feel threatened and unsafe. No-one.
This is another form of physical abuse. Sure, a bit of hair pulling in the act of passion is fine. But when it happens as part of an argument, or when your partner is deliberately trying to hurt you or make you feel threatened, that is abuse.
3. They have thrown things at you and/or destroyed your belongings.
One way your significant other may try to control you is through your belongings. Throwing things at you and destroying your belongings is designed to hurt you physically and emotionally. Threatening to do so also falls under this category of behavior, too.
4. They have left you with bruises, black eyes, bleeding, and/or broken bones.
While abuse doesn’t necessarily have to leave marks on your body, a sure sign of physical abuse in your relationship is when your partner does leave marks. Research shows that once it happens the first time, a “threshold” of sorts has been crossed, and an abuser is more likely to hurt their partner again.
It may not seem like abuse, since there are no physical marks left from a threat to hurt or kill you. However, these threats are still part of the arsenal of tools that abusers use. How? Because these threats are designed to control your behavior, and make you feel powerless. Abuse in a relationship is about the abuser gaining and maintaining power, and death threats are a way of emotionally controlling you.
6. They have threatened to take your children away or harm them.
Even if you have children together, children shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip in your relationship. Even more importantly, your children’s safety is non-negotiable: no partner of yours should threaten it. By the way, this doesn’t just apply to children. Pets can also be used to manipulate and control you in a relationship.
Sex is not a “duty” to be fulfilled in a loving, equal relationship. Nor should your partner guilt trip or manipulate you into participating in sex acts after you have refused sex. Consent needs to be freely given! It doesn’t matter how long the two of you have been together. Otherwise, it’s classed as sexual assault.
8. They try to control you and treat you like a child.
Abusive relationships are about control and power. Part of treating you like a child is making you feel like you don’t have any control in the relationship, or even your life, so that you continue to stay and endure the abuse.
9. They make you feel like you need permission to make decisions or go somewhere.
This applies when you feel like you have to text at every moment to update your partner about where you are. And when you can’t spend time with friends or family without getting permission from your partner. This is because abusers commonly try to isolate their partner from other, platonic relationships with other people.
10. They try to take complete control of the finances and how you spend money.
Controlling how money is earned and spent is known as financial abuse. People suffering from this type of abuse are commonly denied access to money by partners for doing simple tasks like grocery shopping. Or, sometimes the abuser decides whether and when their partner is allowed to work.
Part of being in a respectful and loving relationship is being able to say sorry and to admit fault. An abusive partner refuses to apologise, because doing so would threaten their position of power in their relationship.
12. They accuse you of things that you know are not true.
This is about control, and manipulating you. After all, if you’re spending your time trying to prove your innocence, then you’re not going to spend your time planning to leave the relationship, are you?
13. They do not take responsibility for their behavior.
The reality is, it’s not too much to ask someone to take responsibility for their behavior – even more so when it’s someone you’re in a relationship with. However, your partner doesn’t take responsibility for their behavior because doing so would threaten their position of power in the relationship.
14. They use “The Silent Treatment” to get their way.
Chances are you may have experienced “The Silent Treatment” before, in elementary school. And that’s where that behavior should stay. An equal, loving relationship is not built on one person using silence to manipulate the other person into conceding a point.
15. They make subtle threats or negative remarks about you.
Of course, there’s always room for some friendly sledging in a loving, respectful relationship. But, it turns into abuse when your partner does this on a regular basis to frighten, or control you. It’s possible they may even pass it off as a “joke”, or say that you’re “overreacting”. But again, if you’re in a loving relationship, then your partner should respect the fact that you’re hurt by a “joke”. They should not continue to make these types of comments.
16. You feel scared about how your significant other will act.
An abuser does not abuse all of the time. They maintain a cycle of abuse in the relationship. Things go from being tense, where you feel like you have to watch your own actions, to an incident which involves verbal, emotional, financial and physical abuse. Then, your partner attempts reconciliation or denies the abuse occurred, and the relationship goes into a calm stage. However, tensions will begin to build before long, starting the cycle once again.
19. You stay with your partner because you are afraid of what they would do if you broke up.
In other words, you feel trapped in your relationship because of your partner’s current, or potential, behavior. This can range from hurting you, your kids, your pets, your friends, and your family. Or, destroying your belongings, compromising access to your finances, or hurting themselves.
“The No Test” is pretty simple. Observe what happens the next time you tell your partner “no”. This could be in response to being asked out on a date, or maybe doing them a simple favor. Disappointment is a normal response to being told “no.” However, pure outrage, violence, and/or emotional manipulation is not a reasonable response, and may indicate an abusive relationship.
If you feel that you are experiencing an abusive relationship, please seek help. Call The National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 799 7233 for assistance. Please take care if you feel that your internet or mobile phone device use is being monitored.
“If you’re having sex, you’ll likely contract HPV at some point in your life.” That is how one gynecologist explained the sexually transmitted diseases to me, which completely freaked me out. Even though human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus contracted through sexual intercourse, it doesn’t make it less scary when you realize that it’s related to 150 viruses and can lead to cancer for both men and women. While there are vaccines available to prevent the spread of HPV to a broader age group than in previous years, we are finally closer to finding a cure.
A group of primarily female Mexican scientists at the National Polytechnic Institute cured their patients of HPV.
The team of researchers, led by Dr. Eva Ramos Gallegos (pictured above), treated 420 patients from Veracruz and Oaxaca, and 29 from Mexico City. They used “photodynamic therapy” which “is a treatment that involves using a drug, called a photosensitizer or photosensitizing agent, and a particular type of light to treat different areas of the body” according to their report.
The doctors found extraordinary results through their method of treatment that led to cure 100 percent of the people that had HPV. They also cured 64.3 percent of people infected with HPV that had cancerous cells, and 57.2 percent of people that had cancerous cells without the HPV virus. That last result could mean that a cure for cancer is not far behind.
“Unlike other treatments, it only eliminates damaged cells and does not affect healthy structures. Therefore, it has great potential to decrease the death rate from cervical cancer,” Dr. Gallegos told Radio Guama.
People on social media ecstatically hailed the finding by the Mexicana researchers.
We highly doubt President Trump will ever mention this achievement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has yet to comment on this remarkable finding.
While there’s more testing that will inevitably take place, we will have to wait and see how long it takes for other researchers and scientists to catch on to their method of treatment.
The fact that a woman-led team discovered this cure is something we should all be applauding.
Hopefully, their research will get more funding so they can further test patients and help educate others about their process.
According to the CDC, 79 million Americans, primarily teens and people in the early 20s, are infected with HPV. In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer. The way to prevent contracting HPV is by getting the vaccine — available for males and females — and by using condoms. However, you can still contract HPV because HPV can infect areas not covered by a condom – so condoms may not adequately protect against getting HPV.