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Go for broke in Mr. Gay World 2014

Meet Randolph Val Palma, a six-footer and 31-year-old Davaoeño, who will carry the Philippine flag to the upcoming Mr. Gay World, a global competition that goes beyond beauty to find the “most inspiring and compelling gay man in the world”, to be held in Rome at the end of this month.

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Will the Philippines' very own Randolph Val Palma finally bring home the Mr. Gay World crown? PHOTO COURTESY OF MR. GAY WORLD

Will the Philippines’ very own Randolph Val Palma finally bring home the Mr. Gay World crown?
PHOTO COURTESY OF MR. GAY WORLD

Christopher Michael Olwage of New Zealand’s time as Mr. Gay World 2013 is about to end in a few days, and many pageant enthusiasts across the globe are now looking forward to meet “that next gay man” who will champion LGBTQIA human rights not just in his own country, but on the global stage.

The contestants from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong and Iceland. ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF MR. GAY WORLD

The contestants from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong and Iceland.
ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF MR. GAY WORLD

Mr. Gay World is not a usual beauty contest. At least in the dictionary of Eric Butter, the pageant’s co-founder and president, it is defined as “the toughest job interview in the world.” It is based on the visionary pillars of friendship, diversity and respect, and the winners chosen year after year will serve as role models and ambassadors for young gay men of the world. The sixth edition of the pageant will be held in the southern part of Eternal City, in Rome, Italy, from August 25 to 31.

Randolph Val Palma will be the Philippine envoy to this year’s competition. The 31-year-old and six-footer native of Davao City was appointed by Mr. Gay World for Asia regional director Noemi Alberto and Winnstruck Productions president Mac Bordallo, the local franchise holders of the global search. No local competition was held this year due to time constraints. Palma was actually first runner-up to eventual titleholder Carlito Rosadiño in the Mr. Gay World Philippines 2012 tilt.

Val works as a part-time runway model, and a team leader for JP Morgan Chase & Co., a global financial services firm. He completed his bachelor’s degree in industrial technology, majoring in technology teacher education, at the University of Southwestern Philippines, under a scholarship program of the Department of Science and Technology. He passed the Licensure Examination for Teachers in 2004. He is the son of the late Randy Palma, a military police, and Gene Digal, a retired nurse.

The pressure is on him as he will try to equal, if not surpass, the previous good standing of the Philippines in Mr. Gay World. David Noel Bosley was semifinalist in 2010; Marc Ernest Biala was semifinalist, Best in National Costume and Mr. Gay Popularity in 2011. Carlito Rosadiño was semifinalist, Best in National Costume and Mr. Gay Popularity in 2012. And Erimar Ortigas was also semifinalist and Mr. Gay Popularity last year.

But the Mr. Gay World crown still remains elusive to the Philippines.

“I am not thinking of the pressure (anymore). I just maximize whatever time is left for me to prepare. I was only informed by the organizers two months ago. I’ve been dieting and going to the gym (since then). Seeing my co-candidates’ pictures online (honestly speaking), I cannot totally compete with their well-toned bodies. (You see), it’s impossible for me to have six-pack abs in a short period of time,” he said with a smile in an interview with Outrage Magazine.

The delegates from India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Namibia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Syria, United Kingdom, USA and Venezuela ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF MR. GAY WORLD

The delegates from India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Namibia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Syria, United Kingdom, USA and Venezuela
ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF MR. GAY WORLD

“But I think my competitive edge is my working knowledge of various issues confronting the LGBT community here in our country. Even before joining Mr. Gay World Philippines two years ago, I was already helping the LGBT community. I am part of the ‘Take The Test’ project. During my free days at work, I volunteer in providing adequate information about HIV and AIDS through screening and pre-test/post-test counseling. It’s my little way of making everyone a responsible owner of their own sexuality.”

When asked how excited he is in his ultimate pageant assignment, Val said: “Very excited! It’s my first time to travel in Europe, and my mom (who has just retired) will be coming with me! Her presence and guidance in my forthcoming journey will be my immense source of strength.”

MEET THE CANDIDATES

Mr. Gay World 2014 is going to be tough, as this year will have the most number of participants, with 32. They must compete in different challenges first — written test, art exhibit, national costume, formal wear, swimwear, photo shoot, sports and series of off- and on-stage interviews — to earn points. Their preliminary and final scores will be added up and the delegate with the highest mark will be crowned as the overall winner.

Here are 12 delegates that will make Randolph Val Palma compete harder.

  1. Christopher Glebatsas, 35, an Australian who runs a skin care business with his partner. He has a master’s degree in applied finance and spent most of his life working for investment banks.
  2. Austria’s Klaus Burkart, 20, is a milk technologist. The youngest delegate in this year’s batch is the strongest contender for the Mr. Gay Photogenic special award.
  3. Christepher Wee of Canada is a private school teacher in Greater Vancouver. He teaches elementary and secondary-level students and specializes in visual arts and modern language acquisition. He’s also an actor, TV host and model in Asia. He obtained his fine arts and education degrees at the University of British Columbia.
  4. Cyprus’ Kiriakos Spanos, 26, completed his economics and management degree at the London Metropolitan University. He also took up teaching and currently works as an English teacher in Madrid, Spain.
  5. Sushant Divgikar of India, 24, is a certified psychologist, professional singer, model, actor and TV personality. He’s presently pursuing his master’s degree in counseling psychology and psychotherapy. Sushant spends his free time counseling and mentoring young adults struggling with issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity.
  6. Italy’s Nicola La Triglia, 28, is a lawyer and PhD student in theory of law. “Know yourself authentically, accept yourself, and love yourself so you can ‘authentically’ love,” is his message of hope and liberation to all of the candidates who will compete with him on his home turf.
  7. Pedro Cervantes Alvarez, 25, is a veterinarian and would be happy to become Mexico’s newest export to the global LGBT community. There’s never been a winner from his country—Pico Velasco Michel almost did by placing third in 2009—and he believes that it’s about time. He is also an active volunteer in Vida Plena Puebla A.C., a social LGBT group.
  8. Troy Williams, 33 worked as a lawyer for the past six years in Sydney and London. But he’s just headed to Auckland University to take up medicine. Since New Zealand is one of the best-performing countries in the history of Mister Gay World, with consecutive wins by Andreas Derleth in 2012 and Christopher Michael Olwage last year, Troy has the pressure of achieving a three-peat victory for his country.
  9. South Africa’s Werner de Waal, 26, is an accountant by profession. He thinks that LGBT people who are approaching their retirement age should have a sort of retirement home or village dedicated for them, a community that understands and has their best interest at heart.
  10. Stuart Hatton Jr. of the United Kingdom, 29, graduated with a degree in language and linguistics at the Newcastle University in England. He’s a part-time professional undergarments model and a full-time dance teacher.
  11. United States’ Damien Darrell Rodgers, 33, is a personal fitness trainer. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management and will be going back to school in a few months from now to pursue his master’s degree in international business.
  12. Luis Ernesto Vento, 33, from Venezuela, is a visual merchandiser for a national department store chain. A graduate of tourism and interior designing, he prepared for this pageant by polishing his knowledge of human rights, civil unions and gay marriage.

Completing this year’s lineup of candidates are Belgium’s Willem Joris, 28, PhD student in media studies; Geroge Todorov, 32, model from Bulgaria; Cambodia’s Chetra Chan Hun, 25, jewelry shop salesman; Julien Mbiada, 29, recruitment coordinator from Cambodia; Costa Rica’s Javier Salazar Alfaro, 34, a university professor; Michael Klapetek, 29, theater dancer from Czech Republic; Denmark’s Christian Sebastian, 24, education major and bartender; Peter Linden, 29, professional photographer from Finland; France’s Jordan Joly, 22, makeup artist and stylist; Fabrice Gayakpa, 22, student and model from Germany; Michael Morril, 35, an American migrant teacher from Hong Kong; Iceland’s Troy Michael Jónsson, 27, actor and recording artist; Ozak, 26, from Indonesia; Robbie Lawlor, 23, peer mentor with Ireland’s largest HIV clinic and co-organizer of an HIV social group; Namibia’s Nelson Kenneth Goagoseb, 31, community facilitator for an LGBT organization; Nick Flanagan, 22, sports injury specialist and orthopedic rehabilitation specialist from Ireland; Pakistan’s Amir Rafique, 31, model; Edgar Moreno, 33, actor and model from Spain; and Syria’s Feras Zhk, 32.

Filipinos around the world can help Randolph Val Palma win the Mr. Gay Popularity special award and land a possible spot in the pageant’s semifinal round by clicking this link and voting once every 24 hours until 2:00AM of August 31 (Manila time).

Giovanni Paolo J. Yazon is just your average journalist who can't live without a huge plate of cheesy spaghetti, three cups of brewed coffee, and high-speed Internet every single day. A graduate of mass communication at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, he chased loads of actors, beauty queens, pop artists and even college basketball players until the wee hours of the morning to write their stories eight years. Ivan (how those close to him call him) presently works as a full-time search engine optimization copywriter and an image consultant. He splurges his take-home pay in motivational books and spends his free time touring different heritage towns in the country.

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Sexual harassment claims by less feminine women perceived as less credible

Women who do not fit female stereotypes are less likely to be seen as victims of sexual harassment, and if they claim they were harassed, they are less likely to be believed.

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Women who do not fit female stereotypes are less likely to be seen as victims of sexual harassment, and if they claim they were harassed, they are less likely to be believed, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

“Sexual harassment is pervasive and causes significant harm, yet far too many women cannot access fairness, justice and legal protection, leaving them susceptible to further victimization and harm within the legal system,” said Cheryl Kaiser, PhD, of the University of Washington and a co-author of the study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “Our research found that a claim was deemed less credible and sexual harassment was perceived to be less psychologically harmful when it targeted a victim who was less attractive or did not act according to the stereotype of a typical woman.”

Sexual harassment is a widespread social problem with a broad range of harmful consequences, including decreased engagement with and performance in work and school, worse mental and physical health, and increased economic instability, according to Kaiser. 

“Perceiving sexual harassment involves noticing a behavior that might qualify as harassment and linking that behavior to gender-based group membership,” said co-author Bryn Bandt-Law, a doctoral student at the University of Washington. “We wanted to understand what happens when the victim does not look or act like a stereotypical member of that gender-based group.”

In Western societies, stereotypical women tend to be perceived as attractive, thin, relatively young and dressing in a feminine way. Stereotypically feminine hobbies include shopping, yoga or watching romantic movies, rather than stereotypically masculine hobbies such as fishing, contact sports or watching violent action movies. 

The researchers conducted a series of 11 multi-method experiments, involving more than 4,000 total participants, designed to investigate the effect a victim’s fit to the concept of a typical woman had on participants’ view of sexual harassment and the consequences of that mental association.

In five of the experiments, participants read scenarios in which women either did or did not experience sexual harassment. Participants then assessed the extent to which these women fit with the idealized image of women, either by drawing what they thought the woman might look like or selecting from a series of photos. Across all the experiments, participants perceived the targets of sexual harassment as more stereotypical than those who did not experience harassment.

In the next four experiments, participants were shown ambiguous sexual harassment scenarios, such as a boss inquiring about a woman’s dating life. These scenarios were paired with descriptions or photos of women who were either stereotypical or not. The participants then rated the likelihood that the incident constituted sexual harassment. 

“We found that participants were less likely to label these ambiguous scenarios as sexual harassment when the targets were non-stereotypical women compared with stereotypical women, despite the fact that both stereotypical and non-stereotypical targets experienced the same incident,” said Jin Goh, PhD, of Colby College and another author of the study.

The final two experiments found that sexual harassment claims were viewed as less credible and the harassment less likely to be recognized as psychologically harmful when the accuser adhered less to the female stereotype, even though the claims were identical.

“Our findings demonstrate that non-stereotypical women who are sexually harassed may be vulnerable to unjust and discriminatory treatment when they seek legal recourse,” said Bandt-Law. “If women’s nonconformity to feminine stereotypes biases perceptions of their credibility and harm caused by harassment, as our results suggest, it could prevent non-stereotypical women who are sexually harassed from receiving the civil rights protections afforded to them by law.”  

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Emotionally neglected or severely sexually abused girls report riskier sexual behavior

A noteworthy finding was that adolescents categorized as having had moderate emotional neglect without abuse, as well as those categorized as having experienced severe sexual abuse, reported more sexual risk behaviors than peers who reported low maltreatment. Those with severe sexual abuse also reported the fastest increase of sexually risky behaviors over time.

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Girls who are emotionally neglected or severely sexually abused early in their lives report riskier sexual behaviors during adolescence, Mount Sinai researchers report. The findings highlight the need–and suggest the potential for tailored approaches–to promote healthy sexual development in vulnerable populations.

The researchers identified four distinct patterns of neglect and sexual abuse in low-income, predominantly Black and/or Latina girls and young women that led to distinct trajectories of risky sexual behavior during adolescence. Their findings were published in Child Development in January.

The study was the first of its kind to identify categories of maltreatment among adolescent girls of color in an urban setting that correspond with measurable changes in sexual behavior as they get older. The four categories are low maltreatment, moderate emotional neglect only, severe physical and emotional abuse, and severe sexual abuse.

The study examined how different categories of maltreatment were related to changes in risky sexual behaviors between ages 13 and 23. Risky sexual behaviors included not using condoms, having five or more lifetime partners, having sex in return for money, having sex with someone known to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease, having a partner at least five years older than themselves, and having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

A noteworthy finding was that adolescents categorized as having had moderate emotional neglect without abuse, as well as those categorized as having experienced severe sexual abuse, reported more sexual risk behaviors than peers who reported low maltreatment. Those with severe sexual abuse also reported the fastest increase of sexually risky behaviors over time.

The girls who experienced moderate emotional neglect, which is the most common form of child maltreatment, may develop riskier behaviors than their peers who were not neglected because emotional neglect may interfere with the development of a secure bond with a parent and the self-esteem that bond produces; the lack of these may precipitate the onset and risky patterns of sexual behavior during middle adolescence, according to the study. Contrary to other research, the study did not find different sexual behaviors between girls and young women who reported severe physical and emotional abuse and those in the low-maltreatment group.

Given that sexually risky behavior often increases in adolescence and decelerates in young adulthood, effective sexual health intervention programs must be designed and implemented earlier in adolescence, particularly among youth with a history of maltreatment, the researchers say. The results from this longitudinal study can inform tailored prevention and intervention efforts, and clinical diagnostic tools, that recognize the different types of neglect and abuse in adolescents and young adults to meet their individual needs in a developmentally appropriate manner.

According to Li Niu, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai: “The larger society needs to recognize crucial social forces, such as stigma and victim-blaming, that affect girls’ sexual development, and work together to address factors such as gender inequalities and stereotypes.”

This study measured self-reported childhood maltreatment among 882 sexually active adolescents and young adults every six months between the ages of 13 and 25. The participants were enrolled in an ongoing human papillomavirus surveillance study at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center and were recruited on a rolling basis from 2007 to 2016.

The researchers believe that one outcome from the study could be that primary care physicians conduct interviews with girls about neglect and abuse to identify possible interventions. In addition, the study points to a need for further research into how details such as the relationship of a perpetrator of abuse or the chronicity of the maltreatment, might play in sexually risky behavior.

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Efforts to increase sexual orientation acceptance can address LGBTQ youth suicide

Interventions aimed at increasing sexual orientation acceptance from supportive adults and peers have strong potential to address the public health burden of LGBTQ youth suicide.

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Interventions aimed at increasing sexual orientation acceptance from supportive adults and peers have strong potential to address the public health burden of LGBTQ youth suicide.

This is according to a study – titled: “Association of Sexual Orientation Acceptance with Reduced Suicide Attempts Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning Youth” – by Amy E. Green, Myeshia Price-Feeney and Samuel H. Dorison and published in LGBT Health.

The researchers noted the relationship between sexual orientation acceptance from others and suicide attempts among LGBTQ youth. So to look into this closely, they analyzed data from a 2018 cross-sectional survey of LGBTQ youth between the ages of 13 and 24 years across the US. Youth reported sexual orientation acceptance levels from parents, other relatives, school professionals, health care professionals, friends, and classmates to whom who they were “out.” Adjusted logistic regression analyses were used to examine the association between sexual orientation acceptance and a past-year suicide attempt.

They found that all forms of peer and adult acceptance were associated with reduced reports of a past-year suicide attempt, with the strongest associations found for acceptance from parents (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 0.52) and straight/heterosexual friends (aOR = 0.54).

Youth who reported high levels of acceptance from any adult had nearly 40% (aOR = 0.61) lower odds of a past-year suicide attempt compared with LGBTQ peers with little to no acceptance. Youth with high levels of acceptance from any peer also had significantly lower odds of reporting a past-year suicide attempt (aOR = 0.55). These relationships remained significant even after controlling for the impact of each form of acceptance, suggesting unique associations with suicide risk for both peer and adult acceptance.

For the researchers, therefore, interventions aimed at increasing sexual orientation acceptance from supportive adults and peers should be considered as these have strong potential to address the public health burden of LGBTQ youth suicide.

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Childhood neglect leaves generational imprint

Early life experiences can have an outsized effect on brain development and neurobiological health.

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Early life experiences can have an outsized effect on brain development and neurobiological health. New research is showing that those effects can be passed down to subsequent generations, reporting that the infant children of mothers who had experienced childhood emotional neglect displayed altered brain circuitry involved in fear responses and anxiety.

The study appears in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, published by Elsevier.

“These results show that our brain development is not only shaped by what happens in our own life, but is also impacted by things that happened to our parents before we were even conceived,” said lead author of the study, Cassandra Hendrix, PhD, Department of Pyschology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA.

Dr. Hendrix and her colleagues studied 48 Black mother-infant pairs starting in the first trimester of pregnancy. Mothers were given a questionnaire to assess childhood trauma (experiences of early abuse or neglect). The mothers were also evaluated for current, prenatal stress levels, and for anxiety and depression. One month after birth, infants underwent a brain scan using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging, a non-invasive technology that could be used while the babies slept naturally.

The researchers focused on brain connections between the amygdala, which is central to processing fearful emotions, and two other brain regions: the prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex. Both areas play a key role in regulating emotions. Babies whose mothers experienced childhood emotional neglect had stronger functional connections between the amygdala and the cortical regions.

After controlling for mothers’ current stress levels, the researchers found that the more emotional neglect a mother had experienced during her own childhood, the more strongly her baby’s amygdala was connected to the frontal cortical regions. Physical abuse or neglect of the mother were not correlated with the stronger connectivity. The findings suggest that childhood emotional neglect has intergenerational effects on brain structure and function.

The significance of the stronger connection remains unclear, said Dr. Hendrix. “The neural signature we observed in the 1-month-old infants of emotionally neglected mothers may be a mechanism that leads to increased risk for anxiety, or it could be a compensatory mechanism that promotes resilience in case the infant has less supportive caregivers. In either case, emotional neglect from a mother’s own childhood seems to leave behind a neural signature in her baby that may predispose the infant to more readily detect threat in the environment almost from birth. Our findings highlight the importance of emotional support early in life, even for subsequent generations.”

This is, of course, an issue that is of importance to the LGBTQIA community, considering LGBTQIA people may have difficult family relationships.

In June 2020, for instance, a global report noted that family members are often the main perpetrators of abuse against lesbians, bisexual women and transgender people.

In the Philippines, the issue is just as complicated. For instance, in December 2020, after seeing abuses experienced by LGBTQIA youth even in the hands of family members, Atty. Clara Rita Padilla, who helms EnGendeRights, Inc., said that “LGBTQIA people in GBV/IPV/FV ought to know that their situation can be managed; they just need to – first – not fear seeking for help.”

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Community-based programs reduce sexual violence – study

We know that young men often need job skills and opportunities to discuss healthy relationships and healthier manhood. Combining these two proven approaches seems particularly promising and necessary.

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Through small, neighborhood classes, sexual violence can be reduced among teenage boys living in areas of concentrated disadvantage.

This is according to a study published in JAMA; a culmination of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clinical trial spanning 20 racially segregated neighborhoods in the Pittsburgh area to evaluate two violence prevention programs. The proportion of youth reporting the use of sexual or partner violence in their relationships decreased in both groups by about 12%.

“To accomplish something like this requires nurturing community partnerships,” said study senior author Elizabeth Miller, M.D., Ph.D., chief of adolescent and young adult medicine at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. “In each of these neighborhoods, we worked with community members to facilitate the programs with an eye toward sustainability.”

Between 2015-2017, nearly 900 boys between the ages of 13-19 enrolled in these small group programs, which were run by community leaders from each neighborhood.

Half of the sites were randomized to receive job readiness training and the other half were assigned a curriculum called “Manhood 2.0,” which is based on Promundo’s “Program H” in Brazil. The “H” stands for hombres.

“Manhood 2.0 engages young men in questioning harmful ideas about manhood,” said Promundo-US Chief Executive Officer Gary Barker. “It calls men into being part of the solution to ending violence in intimate partner relationships and helps them see the benefits to healthier manhood in their own lives.”

Manhood 2.0 was adapted for young men in US urban communities, but the core message remains the same: challenging gender norms that foster violence against women and unhealthy sexual relationships.

For young men enrolled in Manhood 2.0, the use of partner violence–including physical or verbal abuse, sexual harassment, sexual coercion and cyber abuse–dropped from 64% at baseline to 52% in the months following the program. For those who received job training, self-reported sexual violence dropped from 53% to 41%.

That was a surprise. Miller said she expected job training to have a positive impact in other areas of life, but not violence towards women.

“Job skills training is a structural intervention, grounded in economic justice,” Miller said. “Perhaps this resonated and resulted in young men using less violence because they felt more hopeful about their future.”

Next, the researchers hope to study whether combining Manhood 2.0 with job readiness training might have an even greater impact on intimate partner and sexual violence than either curriculum alone.

“We know that young men often need job skills and opportunities to discuss healthy relationships and healthier manhood,” Barker said. “Combining these two proven approaches seems particularly promising and necessary.”

Additional authors on the study include Kelley Jones, Ph.D., Alison Culyba, M.D., Ph.D., Taylor Paglisotti, M.P.H., Namita Dwarakanath, Michael Massof, M.P.A., and Zoe Feinstein of UPMC Children’s Hospital; Katie Ports, Ph.D., at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dorothy Espelage, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Julie Pulerwitz, Sc.D., of the Population Council; Aapta Garg, M.A., and Jane Kato-Wallace, M.P.H., of Promundo-US; and Kaleab Z. Abebe, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

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Effects of head trauma from intimate partner violence largely unrecognized

One in three women will experience intimate partner violence (IPV) in her lifetime, and studies suggest that anywhere between 30% to 90% of women who experience physical abuse at the hands of an intimate partner experience head trauma.

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Fact: The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one in three women will experience intimate partner violence (IPV) in her lifetime, and studies suggest that anywhere between 30% to 90% of women who experience physical abuse at the hands of an intimate partner experience head trauma. Yet not enough data is being collected to understand how this head trauma affects cognitive and psychological functioning as well as the underlying neural effects.

This is why Carrie Esopenko, assistant professor in the Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Sciences in the Rutgers School of Health Professions, looked into this as part of an Intimate Partner Violence Working Group studying intimate partner violence-related head trauma as part of the Enhancing NeuroImaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis (ENIGMA) Consortium, an international, multidisciplinary group that seeks to provide a collaborative framework for large-scale analysis and neuroimaging and genetic studies in patient groups. The data was published in the journal Brain Imaging and Behavior.

What is the risk for traumatic brain injury in those who suffer abuse?

Although IPV occurs at any age, it is most prevalent in the 18- to 24-year-old age group, and older adults are also vulnerable. Males and females experience IPV, but violence against women tends to result in more severe and chronic injuries. Due to the high degree of physical aggression associated with this type of abuse, there is a significant risk for traumatic brain injury caused by blunt force trauma, being violently shaken or pushed.

Another significant concern is anoxic brain injury, which can occur due strangulation or attempts to impede normal breathing. The prevalence of head injuries in women who have sustained IPV is estimated to be between 30% and 92%, with a high proportion of these women reporting injuries as a result of strangulation. It is estimated that more than 50% of women exposed to IPV suffer multiple brain injuries due to abuse-related head trauma.

What are the consequences of such injuries?

Past research suggests that IPV can impact cognitive and psychological functioning as well as have neurological effects. These seem to be compounded in those who suffer a brain injury as a result of trauma to the head, face, neck or body due to physical and/or sexual violence. However, the understanding of the neurobehavioral and neurobiological effects of head trauma is limited.

Studies suggest that women who experience IPV report cognitive dysfunction, including impaired reaction time, response inhibition, working memory, attention and a range of other cognitive, behavioral and emotional difficulties. They often report a high degree of mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, suicidal ideation and PTSD. There is evidence that IPV-related brain injury also alters brain function and structure.

What is unknown about traumatic brain injury in victims of domestic violence?

While research on traumatic brain injury in other populations, like athletes and the military, has dramatically increased over the past two decades, research on intimate partner-related brain injury is vastly understudied.

“We need to know more about the effect of sex, socioeconomic status, race and/or ethnicity, age at first exposure – including childhood trauma, duration and severity of IPV exposure, and psychiatric disorders on the neural, cognitive and psychological outcomes associated with IPV-related brain injuries. Knowing this can help us to predict outcomes and help personalize treatment and intervention strategies,” Esopenko said.

IPV is an issue that also affects members of the LGBTQIA community.

In the Philippines in December 2020, Atty. Clara Rita Padilla, who helms EnGendeRights, Inc., recalled helping remove LGBTQIA people from the abusive situations. And so for her, LGBTQIA people in GBV/IPV/FV ought to know that their situation can be managed; they just need to – first – not fear seeking for help.

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