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Giving flesh to unconditional love

The mother of a trans daughter and a bisexual son, Jes Nortiga acknowledges that some may frown at her for supporting her two LGBT children. But she says that “all we can do is give them our all. Accept them and be happy with their choices. We may not be able to give them everything to make them happy, but for as long as they live happy anyway, are safe and successful in their chosen fields, go lang. They are still your kids. Life is too short to hate and disown them.”

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Jes Nortiga noted how, when the youngest of her two children was still in primary school, that child “used to play with a classmate’s hair; and when that classmate had her hair cut to don a short one, my child was so devastated and didn’t talk to that girl for a while,” she said with a laugh. That may have been an occurrence unrelated to sexual orientation, but – “Couple that with my child’s preference to play with dolls, the wanton swaying of the hips to mimic girls while walking,” she said – and Jes said she had an inkling as early as then that “my child’s special. A mother knows.”

And so when her child came out as a transwoman, “I was not mad nor was I too happy,” she said. “It just was. I learned to accept this just as a fact.”

In her own recollection, Jes’s trans daughter Amanda Vu said “I was still young when I came out as gay… maybe I was eight or nine (years old). My parents are open-minded and took it well.” She added that perhaps there was even no real need to come out since “it (my being gay then) already showed in how I acted.”

Amanda’s only elder brother is, by the way, bisexual [“Dalawa lang sila (magkakapatid), both (assigned boys at first) who happen to belong to the LGBT community,” Jes said]. He came out to their Mom much later than Amanda, but “in primary school and in high school, we talked about our crushes. He was the guy looking (at these crushes), and I was the girl looking,” Amanda laughed.

Jes Nortiga and her husband separated, so it’s just the three of them (her and their two kids) living together now. And as a mother, Jes admitted having worries for her LGBT children. But she also trusts that she raised her children well, setting them up for life.

A parent ought to help their children find their happiness, Jes said. And on this, “I can’t give enough to make my children happy.”

Amanda believes that “family support is very vital as its leads you to the right path. (Your family is supposed to be) always there no matter what.” In her case, she said she knew “they may have had some reservations about me being trans, but they never stopped me from being me. What I remember is them saying that they support me… as long as I do well in the life I choose to live. And I’m good with that.”

Jes and her husband (Amanda’s father) separated, so it’s just the three of them living together now. And as a mother, Jes admitted having worries for her LGBT children.

For instance, “I worry if Amanda goes on dates baka mapahamak siya (maybe something bad will happen to her), similar to what we see on TV,” Jes said. “Kaya I told them to tell me where they are when they have a date para kapag may nangyari, alam.ko saan sila pupuntahan (so I’d know if something happened to them),” she said, adding with a laugh: “Kahit mag-motel pa sila (even if they go to motels).” To appease their mom, “they both do this.”

There are also worries about the LGBT children’s future (“Ayaw ko kasi sila masaktan [I don’t want for them to get hurt],” Je said). In Amanda’s case, “Ayaw kong i-underestimate siya sa work dahil trans siya (I don’t want for her to be underestimated because she’s trans).”

But Jes believes she raised her kids well enough for them to be able to look after themselves – largely helped by being part of each others’ lives. One time, Jes recalled going out on a dinner date, and – sans the knowledge of her date – Amanda was monitoring her mom at another table. “She had the chance to size him up,” Jes laughed, “and then texting me if she thinks he’s okay for me or not.”

Amanda believes one’s family can be a great source of support for LGBT people. “Just make sure that… you do well and never be a burden to them or to society. If ever they can’t accept you, don’t hate them. Understand why and prove to them that you chose a good path and that you are not a burden to anyone. Sure, they may have a lot of bad things to say (about you), but they can’t really do anything as it’s the path you choose for yourself. You have your own life. It’s the choice you made, make it work for you.”

Jes acknowledges that not everyone may agree with her parenting style, and even frown at her supporting her two LGBT children. In fact, there was a time in the past when “I worried how my friends, my colleagues looked at me as a mom; perhaps they’d judge me,” she said. “But having proudly introduced her kids to others and seeing their reactions, (many) end up appreciating how I raised my kids. Some LGBT co-workers even told me they wished I’m their mom. My openness about this has erased my worries about being judged.”

Her former husband actually still plays a role in their lives. When Amanda starred in a PSA for an HIV organization in Cebu City, “my dad was even ecstatic when I showed him my videos. He was like ‘Hala! Ka-lingaw nimo. I-copy sa akoang laptop kay akoang ipakita sa akoang mga officemates’ (You are so much fun. Save a copy in my laptop so I can show it to my officemates).’ That was so crazy and unexpected. He even waited until midnight just to watch my interview on TV.”

Amanda added: “It is such a great feeling knowing that your parents are happy for you and are proud of you.”

Jes said that some parents may feel that “nagkulang sila (they failed to do something)” if their kids turn out LGBT. But she said “all we can do is give them our all,” she said. And then “accept them and be happy with their choices. We may not be able to give them everything to make them happy (the way we believe they ought to be happy), but for as long as they live happy anyway, are safe and successful in their chosen fields, go lang. They are still your kids. Life is too short to hate and disown them.”

 

"If someone asked you about me, about what I do for a living, it's to 'weave words'," says Kiki Tan, who has been a writer "for as long as I care to remember." With this, this one writes about... anything and everything.

Love Affairs

4 Ways to build a strong intimate relationship

If you’re looking for ways to enhance your relationship with your partner, here are the best ways to build a strong intimate relationship.

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After the spark fades in a relationship, few things keep it going like, trust, respect, and most importantly, intimacy. Intimacy is about bonding with your partner, not only sexually, but emotionally as well. To build a strong relationship, both of you should understand, know, and accept each other for who you are. However, it all starts with you.

Many people ask for intimacy, but don’t understand how they can provide it to their partners as they were never taught how to do so. Intimacy is what provides the passion and warmth in a relationship, which is why it’s important to build a strong intimate relationship to ensure that you’re going to have a healthy life with your partner. 

If you’re looking for ways to enhance your relationship with your partner, here are the best ways to build a strong intimate relationship.

1. Create Quality Time 

Being able to open up and talk with your partner about any topic you want creates an unbreakable bond. Start with yourself and share your thoughts and feelings so your partner starts opening up as well. Sharing your thoughts at the end of the day with your partners is the most important aspect when you’re looking to build an intimate relationship.

You should be able to trust your partner and vice-versa. You can achieve that by creating some time at the end of each day where you two can talk about your feelings and thoughts without being judged. This will make your significant other trust you and open up to you about how they really feel. This way, if there’s anything that is upsetting them, they will communicate it right away.  

2. Get to Know Each Other 

Many people create assumptions when it comes to a relationship or knowing what their partner wants. You may assume that a certain act makes your partner happy, while in fact, it doesn’t. Such assumptions create boundaries between both of you and make it harder to communicate, which could destroy a relationship. No matter how long you’ve been with your partner, it’s never late to start asking questions to know them better. Don’t be shy to ask what your partner enjoys in bed and communicate with them what you enjoy as well. This men’s guide to become better in bed can also help you have a better understanding of what your partner might need and what you should do to improve yourself.

You should also work on enhancing emotional intimacy in the relationship. Ask your significant other questions about their life, past relationships, and their parents. This will help you know what makes them happy and what doesn’t, what they think about the relationship, and to know how you can create a safe space for them. You should avoid assuming anything about your partner or your relationship and ask as many questions as you want.  

3. Listen Carefully

A lot of people believe that they’re good listeners, while they’re not. There’s a huge difference between hearing the other person talking and actually listening to what they’re saying. When your partner is talking, listen carefully with the intention to understand and not the intention to reply.

By carefully listening to your significant other, you will be able to know them better, know their likes and dislike, and you’ll be able to avoid many fights

4. Love Yourself 

You will not be able to love your partner and build an intimate relationship if you don’t love yourself. You should understand yourself completely so you can know what you can provide and what you want in return. When you’re stressed, unhappy, or unhealthy, you will not be able to give your all in the relationship, and in return, you will not receive what you want. A healthy relationship starts with you. Each one of you should be happy on their own so you can build a strong relationship. To achieve that, you should set a weekly time when you don’t focus on anything but yourself. 

Building a strong intimate relationship may not be an easy task, but it can be easily achieved when you communicate with your partner and understand what each one likes and dislikes. Know your significant other by asking many questions about their lives and create a safe zone where both of you can talk freely without being judged. Your safe zone will allow you to enhance the sexual and emotional intimacy in the relationship as both of you will have a better understanding of what the other person needs. However, you must avoid making assumptions about your partner or the relationship. An assumption could create unnecessary boundaries, which causes many problems.

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Love Affairs

Acceptance and love as sources of Pride

For many LGBTQIA people, self-acceptance is difficult to achieve, even if it is generally accepted that only when one lives one’s own truth can he/she/they know true self-acceptance and the joy that comes with it. Lucky for Ahds who met Anna who loves him, even as they get the support of accepting families.

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In 2015, Ada (or Ahds, as his friends and close relatives call him), was working in Toronto when he met Anna, the best friend of a cousin.

It “completely changed my life,” he beamed.

Ahds recalled that there were people who doubted their relationship.

During their first year together, he admitted that they experienced difficulties in terms of finances (and adjustments to being together). But Ahds said that even though things were a bit tough, it was okay because at least they had each other.

“May mga kaibigan kami na nagsasabi na hindi kami magtatagal, na maghihiwalay din kami (There were some friends who said that we would not last, that we would just part ways),” he said.

But they gave being together a try, eventually proving the the naysayers wrong.

LOVE CELEBRATED

On June 18, 2016 Ahds and Anna got married.

“Nag-decide kami na magpakasal kasi gusto ko ma-experience kung ano ang pakiramdam ng kinakasal, at gusto ko rin may kasama ako sa buhay habang tumatanda ako (We decided to get married because I wanted to experience how it feels like. I also want to have someone in my life while growing old),” Ahds said.

When they celebrated their wedding anniversary this year, Ahds said in a Facebook post: “The secret of a happy marriage is finding the right person. You know it is right if you love to be with that person all the time.”

“Basta anniversary namin, nagse-celebrate kami kahit kami lang dalawa. Mababaw lang ang kaligayahan namin. At bawal sa amin ang mga nega, ang gusto naming pareho masaya lang kami (Whenever we celebrate our anniversary, it is okay even if it is just the two of us. We find happiness in simple things. And we do not like negative things, we just both want to be happy),” he said.

Ahds added: “Tsaka masaya kami dahil tanggap kami ng family namin pareho (Further, we are happy because our families accepts us).”

FAMILY ACCEPTANCE

But for as long as he can remember, his family was always supportive of him and his decisions – at least as long as he doesn’t put himself in harm’s way.

“When I was three years old, lalaki na ako (I already identified as a boy). I still remember when I was in elementary, I was already attracted to girls. Masaya ako kapag nakikita ko ang crush ko na malaki ang tanda sa akin (I was happy when I saw my crush, who was older than me).”

He can actually still remember how things were when he was young.

Noong bata ako, naaalala ko kung paano ako tinanggap na walang pag-aalinlangan ng tatay ko. Madalas niya ako dinadalhan ng bola ng ping pong. Tanggap ako ng pamilya ko kung ano talaga ako (When I was young, I remember how I was accepted without reservations by my father. He also liked to give me ping pong balls to play with. My family accepted me for who I am),” Ahds shared.

He was able to grow up “normally”, in a sense that his family supported whatever he wanted to do, as long as it would not harm him.

“When I was growing up, naririnig ko palagi na sinasabi sa akin na ‘Tomboy ‘yan’, siguro dahil na rin sa kilos at pananamit ko. Minsan, masakit sa pandinig (I always heard people call me ‘lesbian’, perhaps because of how I acted and the way I dressed. Sometimes, it pained me),” Ahds continued.

But it was not something he dwelled on. He knew that the people who mattered most in his life – his family – did not have a problem with who he really was and accepted him regardless of what other people said.

And that type of love has helped Ahds reach for his dreams, while providing for his family.

Ahds left to work overseas (for 22 years now); first heading to UAE in 1998 when Mt. Pinatubo erupted. After several years, he found his way to Canada… and Anna’s arms.

ACCEPTING AND LOVING

For many LGBTQIA people, self-acceptance is difficult to achieve, even if it is generally accepted that only when one lives one’s own truth can he/she/they know true self-acceptance and the joy that comes with it.

Equally important is acceptance [NOT mere tolerance] within the family – e.g. a study on LGBT youth acceptance and rejection revealed that it directly affects identity development, behaviors, physical and mental health. Those who experience rejection may experience serious consequences on physical and mental health.

And here, Ahds said he’s somewhat luckier, finding both acceptance and love, now his two sources of Pride.

Ahds believes that, yes, things will get better… eventually.

But while the road there may prove challenging, it starts with self-acceptance at least.

“Huwag kayo mahihiya na ipaalam sa madla kung sino kayo at kung ano ang totoong nararamdaman ninyo. Lalo na sa sarili mo, ilabas mo kung ano ka talaga. At para sa pagmamahal naman, para makamtam ang tunay na kaligayahan, dapat walang lihiman (Do not be afraid to let other people know who you are and what you really feel. Especially to yourself, show what you really are. And when it comes to love, for you to achieve real happiness, there should be no secrets),” Ahds said.

And who knows – like Ahds – this could also help others be led to having Pride.

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Love Affairs

How do you find the partner that’s right for you?

Many people are more than capable of spending time by themselves, but then run into problems when it comes to matters of the heart. And it’s not all that difficult to see why: love and relationships in general can be extremely tricky.

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Photo by Maico Pereira from Unsplash.com

Life can seem to be extremely easy in some ways, extremely difficult in others. Many people are more than capable of spending time by themselves, but then run into problems when it comes to matters of the heart. And it’s not all that difficult to see why: love and relationships in general can be extremely tricky.

Of course, it’s all much easier if you’re with the right person. But how can you find the partner that’s right for you? We’ll take a look at some useful tips below.

Put Yourself Out There

We don’t want to reduce love down to just being about numbers, but it does help. The more people you interact with and date, the more likely it is that you’ll find a person that’s right for you. It’s not realistic to think that the love of your life is just going to walk up to you while you’re in the supermarket. So look at putting yourself out there.

Going on dates, joining clubs, and all-around being a part of the social scene will put you in touch with many different people, one of whom might turn out to be the love of your life.

Figure Out What You Want

Sometimes, we can get into the habit of putting ourselves in a relationship with just anyone who shows an interest. Or perhaps we’re so eager to please that we don’t stop to think about what we really want from a partner. One of the most important steps towards finding the right partner is figuring out what you want. It’ll make the task so much easier.

This approach is multi-layered. First, you should figure out which gender you want to be with; straight and gay mobile chat services can help you to figure this out. From there, it’s about thinking up the values and interests that you admire, and going after people who share the same. This approach will help to narrow the search significantly.

IMAGE SOURCE: PEXELS.COM

Set Your Standards 

It’s generally considered a good thing to be looking for love, but it does have its downsides. For example, it can make it more likely that we’ll settle into something that we’re not entirely happy with. Some people end up with the wrong person because they didn’t know when to call it quits.

In order to prevent yourself from falling into a bad situation, be sure to set your standards. It’s easy to compromise or overlook obvious red flags, but you’ll only regret it further on down the line. 

Get In a Good Place

Finally, perhaps the best way to find a partner that’s perfect for you is to make sure that you’re in a good place. If you’re low in confidence or unhappy, you’ll be more likely to settle for, well, anyone who comes your way.

If you’re feeling secure in who you are, then you’ll be able to take a proactive approach and get what you want in life. It really will make all facets of your life easier.

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Love Affairs

‘Playing hard to get’ really works; here’s why

Playing hard to get may work as long as potential partners feel that their efforts are likely to be successful… eventually.

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We tend to like people who like us – a basic human trait that psychologists have termed “reciprocity of attraction.” This principle generally works well to start relationships because it reduces the likelihood of rejection. Yet, making the chase harder also has its upsides. Which one then is the better strategy for finding a partner?

A team of researchers from the University of Rochester and the Israeli-based Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya examined the effects of playing hard to get, a mating strategy that is likely to instill a certain degree of uncertainty. In a new study, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, they show that making the chase harder increased a potential mate’s desirability.

The duo of Gurit Birnbaum, a social psychologist and associate professor of psychology at the IDC Herzliya, and Harry Reis, a professor of psychology and Dean’s Professor in Arts, Sciences & Engineering at the University of Rochester, discovered that immediately reciprocating another person’s interest may not be the smartest strategy for attracting mates.

“People who are too easy to attract may be perceived as more desperate,” says Birnbaum. “That makes them seem less valuable and appealing–than those who do not make their romantic interest apparent right away.”

While playing hard to get is a common strategy used to attract mates, past research has been unclear about whether, and if so, why this strategy works–which this study sought to clear up. Of course, some are reluctant to employ this strategy, worrying that it’ll backfire and drive prospective partners away out of fear of being rejected.

Indeed, in previous research the duo had shown that those who feel greater certainty that a prospective romantic partner reciprocates their interest will put more effort into seeing that person again, while rating the possible date as more sexually attractive than they would if they were less certain about the prospective date’s romantic intentions.

However, in their latest undertaking the team tested tactics across three interrelated studies, which gave the impression that potential partners were hard to get, signaling their “mate value” by being, for example, selective in their partner choices. Participants interacted with what they believed to be another research participant of the opposite-sex, but who was in reality an insider–a member of the research team. Next, participants rated the extent to which they felt the insider was hard to get, their perceptions of the insider’s mate value (e.g., “I perceive the other participant as a valued mate”), and their desire to engage in various sexual activities with the insider.

In study 1, participants interacted with study insiders whose online profile indicated that they were either hard to get or easy to attract. The researchers discovered that participants who interacted with the more selective profile perceived the insider as more valued and therefore more desirable as a partner, compared to participants who interacted with less selective insiders (who seemed easier to attract).

In study 2, the researchers looked at the efforts invested in pursuing a potential partner and whether such efforts would inspire heightened sexual interest. Here participants were led to exert (or not) real efforts to attract the insider during face-to-face interactions. During the experiment, participants engaged in a conversation with another participant (who was in reality a study insider). The experimenter instructed participants and insiders to discuss their preferences in various life situations and presented a list of 10 questions (e.g., “To what extent do you prefer intimate recreation over mass entertainment?”; “To what extent do you like to cuddle with your partner while sleeping?”). The insider expressed a different preference from the participants to seven out of the 10 questions.

Participants in the hard-to-get group were told to try and resolve their disagreements. Using a fixed script, the insiders gradually allowed themselves “to be convinced” by the participants and eventually expressed agreement with the participant’s position. That way, the researchers tried to make participants feel that they had invested efforts and that their efforts were eventually successful.

In the no-effort group, participants were instructed only to express their preferences and explain their point of view without trying to resolve the differences. That way participants didn’t feel that the discussion involved exerting efforts to convince the insider. The team found that not only selectiveness but also efforts invested in the pursuit of a mate rendered potential partners more valuable and sexually desirable than those were little effort was exerted.

In study 3, interactions unfolded spontaneously and were coded for efforts undertaken by participants to see the insider again. Here the researchers examined whether being hard to get would increase not only prospective partners’ sexual desirability but also the efforts devoted to seeing them in the future. To do so, participants conversed with the insider via Instant Messenger in a chat. At the end, participants were asked to leave one final message for the insider.

Next, the research team coded these messages for efforts made to interact again with the insider by counting in each message participants’ expressions of romantic interest and desire for future interaction–for example, complimenting the insider, flirting with him/her, asking him/her for a date. The team found that interacting with prospective partners who were perceived as hard to get not only enhanced their mate value and desirability but was also translated into investment of concrete efforts to see them again.

Findings:

  • A person who is perceived as hard to get is associated with a greater mate value
  • Study participants made greater efforts on/and found more sexually desirable those potential dates they perceived as hard to get
  • Study participants made greater efforts to see those again for whom they had made efforts in the first place

Says Reis, “We all want to date people with higher mate value. We’re trying to make the best deal we can.”

Of course, some may be reluctant to employ this scarcity strategy, worrying that it’ll drive prospective partners away out of fear of being rejected.

Reis acknowledges the strategy doesn’t work for everyone, all the time. “If playing hard to get makes you seem disinterested or arrogant,” he says, “it will backfire.”

So, how then do you reconcile these two approaches – playing hard to get on one hand and removing uncertainty on the other?

Show initial interest in potential partners so as not to alienate them, advises Birnbaum. Yet, don’t reveal too much about yourself. People are “less likely to desire what they already have,” she explains. Instead, build a connection with a potential partner gradually, thereby creating “a sense of anticipation and a desire to learn more about the other person.”

Playing hard to get may work as long as potential partners feel that their efforts are likely to be successful… eventually.

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Love Affairs

LGBTQIA people think domestic violence is a cis-straight issue – study

A study found that domestic and family violence (DFV) and intimate partner violence (IPV) were perceived by community members and professional stakeholders to be a “heterosexual issue that did not easily apply to LGBTQIA relationships.”

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Members of the LGBTQIA community think domestic violence is a cis-straight issue. This is according to a study conducted by Relationships Australia New South Wales (RANSW) and ACON (formerly the AIDS Council of NSW), and was published by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety.

As stated in “Developing LGBTQ programs for perpetrators and victims/survivors of domestic and family violence”, many LGBTQIA people think domestic violence is an issue only faced by people who are both cisgender and straight.

The study found that domestic and family violence (DFV) and intimate partner violence (IPV) were perceived by community members and professional stakeholders to be a “heterosexual issue that did not easily apply to LGBTQIA relationships.”

“In particular, many community members held the view that relationships between (LGBTQIA) people could avoid the inherent sexism and patriarchal values of heterosexual, cisgender relationships, and, by implication, avoid DFV/IPV.”

In a way, this doesn’t come as a complete surprise, considering the language and framework used when discussing DFV and IPV.

The study noted that “although DFV and IPV have received increased attention in recent years, the focus has been on addressing intimate abuse between cisgender, heterosexual people with greater attention paid to male perpetrators.”

Also, “clients and potential clients did not have a full understanding of what constitutes domestic violence and felt this term related only to physical forms of abuse.”

And so “although (LGBTQIA) perpetrator interventions, and research around them, are emergent at best, the scant literature does provide a little information which can be used
to inform program developers and clinical practice.”

The researchers also noted particular kinds of abuse not seen among cis-straight people.

For instance, there are “identity-based tactics of abuse” where the fear of exposure or outing is used as a weapon within queer relationships.

After an individual has appraised that he/she may be experiencing abuse, seeking appropriate intervention may also be challenging because of non-inclusive services currently available.

The researchers recommended the following:

  • Make LGBTQIA inclusivity training required learning for all DFV/IPV sector staff, particularly those employed in specialized DFV/IPV roles.
  • Advocate that inclusivity training be made mandatory within clinical organizations, and among police and legal professionals.
  • Develop referral pathways into LGBTQIA-friendly DFV/IPV programs for key professionals, such as court support workers and magistrates.
  • Increase representation of LGBTQIA people in promotional material about DFV/IPV.
  • Use social media platforms to increase DFV/IPV awareness in LGBTQIA communities and use these channels to engage clients for future programs.
  • Provide ongoing funding to develop, trial and implement tailored programs. Short funding cycles do not provide adequate time to populate groups within an underdeveloped community area.
  • Ensure programs respond to diverse needs within mixed LGBTQIA groups and manage transphobia and biphobia.

This isn’t the first time DFV and IPV within the LGBTQIA community was tackled – even if it remains to be under-researched, and not widely tackled within the LGBTQIA community. In 2018, for instance, a study found that nearly half of men in same-sex couples suffered some form of abuse at the hands of their partner, according to a study that surveyed 320 men (160 male couples) in Atlanta, Boston and Chicago in the US to measure emotional abuse, controlling behaviors, monitoring of partners, and HIV-related abuse.

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Love Affairs

Training bystanders to intervene will help prevent domestic violence and abuse – study

Bystander intervention is about empowering all members of the community to speak up and challenge gender inequality and the drivers of domestic abuse in a safe and situation-appropriate way. It’s about helping people to find their own way to make an impact and make a difference.

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Empowering people to intervene when they witness unacceptable behavior can help to prevent domestic violence and abuse, a new study has found.

Specific training for bystanders makes them “significantly” more confident to take action when they see or hear wrongdoing related to domestic abuse in their community, according to the study, published in the journal BMC Public Health.

A total of 81% of participants reported being more likely to intervene when they saw wrongdoing after the training, this increased to 89% four months later.

Similar training has been used in universities in the UK and experts who developed the new program hope bystander training will now play a key role in domestic violence prevention work across the country. The training, called Active Bystander Communities, was led by Dr. Rachel Fenton at the University of Exeter and Alexa Gainsbury at Public Health England, and is a collaboration between University of Exeter Law School, Public Health England, Devon County Council, Bristol County Council, Splitz and the Hollie Gazzard Trust. It was piloted with 70 people in Exeter, Torquay and Gloucester.

Active Bystander Communities was designed to give people the knowledge and skills they need to be ‘active bystanders’ and intervene positively in potentially harmful situations. It was delivered in three two hour sessions by experienced facilitators. Participants learned how to notice harmful behavior alongside developing the skills to be able to intervene safely and effectively.

Surveys of participants immediately after the training showed a significant increase in confidence and intent to take action as well as a significant improvement in their ability to spot and reject myths about domestic abuse. A total of 87% of people who took part in the training were less likely to believe myths about domestic abuse afterwards. A total of 84% of participants said they felt more confident about intervening following the training.

Researchers found further improvement four months after training when participants had had the opportunity to take their learning out into their communities and take action.

Fenton said: “Bystander intervention is about empowering all members of the community to speak up and challenge gender inequality and the drivers of domestic abuse in a safe and situation-appropriate way. It’s about helping people to find their own way to make an impact and make a difference.”

For Fenton, “people in the community are ideally placed to respond to problematic behaviors and support individuals who are experiencing domestic violence and abuse because they have the relationships, insights and opportunities to make a real difference.”

Gainsbury at Public Health England said: “Preventing violence is everyone’s business and we are all aware of the devastating impact domestic abuse has on individuals, families and communities. Whilst we are clear that domestic violence and abuse should never happen, it is not always clear what we can do to stop it.”

She added that their follow-up research has found participants have been quick to put their training into action and have already carried out a wide range of bystander interventions from calling out sexist behavior to supporting victims of domestic abuse within their communities.

“From spreading the word that bystanders can make a difference to calling out harmful behaviours they see in everyday life and being a source of support to those experiencing abuse, the range of ways in which participants have enacted interventions since undertaking the training has been inspirational,” Gainsbury ended.

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