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Nomer Yuzon aims to be first-ever Mr. Gay World from Phl

There’s never been an Asian winner in the seven-year history of the Mr. Gay World pageant. Nomer Yuzon, a 5-feet-10-inch and 42-year-old educator from Occidental Mindoro, aspires to be the Philippines’ newest export to the ‘global LGBT beauty arena’ at the pageant’s conclusion in South Africa on the first Sunday of May.

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Nomer Yuzon

Six hours before Manny Pacquiao fights Floyd Mayweather Jr. inside the boxing ring of MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 3, Sunday (Philippine time), another Filipino will first take up the challenge of “knocking out” 21 gay men from different countries on stage at the Knysna Mall Exhibition Area in South Africa, to be the first-ever Filipino Mr. Gay World titleholder.

His name is Nomer Munar Yuzon, an educator who hails from Occidental Mindoro.

Early this year, local franchise holders Noemi Alberto, Mr. Gay World for Asia regional director, and Mac Bordallo, Winnstruck Productions president handpicked him due to time restrictions. But the 42-year-old, 5-feet-10-inch native of Occidental Mindoro is no stranger to beauty pageants. He was David Noel Bosley’s second runner-up in the Mr. Gay Philippines 2009 tilt, also winning the Darling of the Press and Best in Formal Wear special awards. He also represented Hawaii in Manhunt International 2006 world finals staged in Jinjiang, China.

Neither a Filipino nor an Asian has won the Mr. Gay World crown. Nomer Yuzon, the Philippines’ bet this year, believes that it’s about time.

Neither a Filipino nor an Asian has won the Mr. Gay World crown. Nomer Yuzon, the Philippines’ bet this year, believes that it’s about time.

“This will be my last (international) pageant, and I really hope that ‘this is it’,” he said in an interview with Outrage Magazine at the Mr. Gay World Asia Regional Office in Pasig City. “I’m the (oldest candidate) in Mr. Gay World this year. (But) I consider my age as an edge, since I have more experiences (in life) which made me a stronger, more matured and disciplined person that I am today.”

Yuzon is the fifth and youngest child of the late Mariano Yuzon from Batangas, and the former Peg Munar, a retired school teacher who hails from Pangasinan. He completed his bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the Far Eastern University and pursued his postgraduate studies in development communication at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. He left for the US in 1997 where he worked as hotelier at the Holiday Inn San Francisco, part-time model and then flight steward for the United Airlines for 14 years.

After grabbing an early retirement package from the airline company, he entered the academe last year. He started teaching airline business and public speaking subjects at the Lyceum of the Philippines University and Asia Pacific College, respectively. He also works as a part-time actor and appeared in ABS-CBN’s fantasy-comedy-drama TV series Inday Bote where he portrayed the role of an investor recently. Yuzon is also a member of the Maharlika Drakon Dragon Boat Racers under the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation.

NOMER’S NEMESES

The global competition aimed at inspiring and empowering gay men to come together in a public performance that will showcase the world that being gay encompasses a broad spectrum is back after eight months. Its founding president, Eric Butter, is again on the lookout for the successor of Stuart Hatton Jr. of the UK, who will also advance gay human rights in his country and throughout the world.

Now in its seventh year, Mr. Gay World will be held in Knysna, a town in South Africa renowned for its wildlife, magnificent oysters, and golf courses, between April 26 and May 4. It’s also the first time that delegates will join the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival street parade on the day of the finals.

“I don’t want to think of the pressure, I’d rather focus on the excitement. I was a flight attendant for so many years, but I’ve never been to South Africa or the African continent on the whole. I’ll have new friends (there) for sure and I’ll do my very best, of course,” he said.

But one thing is sure about his “road to success” in South Africa, it wouldn’t be easy as there are 12 likely victors—all staying aligned and holding tight to their vision—who will surely stop him from winning the Mr. Gay World crown.

  1. Australia’s Scott Fletcher, 27, was born and raised in New Zealand, but migrated to Melbourne three years ago to start a career in software development. He is a principal security consultant for a company that specializes in helping organizations secure their information technology systems. His bodybuilder-like physique is a strong contender for the Best in Swimsuit special award.
  2. From a young teenager who weighed 120 kilograms, had no friends, became a laughingstock, and was sick all the time during swimming lessons, Jordy de Smedt, 20, from Belgium, evolved from “chunk to hunk.” He studied to become a personal trainer, to inspire many people who find it too hard to lose pounds fast.
  3. Finland’s Tomi Mikael Lappi, 24, is a professional show/ballroom dancer and show coordinator for Finnish designer Antti Asplund’s “Heterophobia” clothing line. He joined the pageant “to share knowledge, confidence and youthful energy to become both a face and an accessible voice to the LGBT community worldwide.”
  4. Klaus Burkart, 20, is a milk technologist blessed with an angelic face. He was Austria’s envoy in last year’s contest. He is back with a vengeance, but this time representing Germany where he’s born. Burkart is a shoo-in for the Mr. Gay Photogenic special award.
  5. Iceland’s Troy Michael Jónsson, 27, bartender and gay rights activist, is another Mr. Gay World repeater. He isn’t happy with his top 10 finish last August: He wants no less than the crown so he can lead “The Bleeding Love Project,” a global mission that hopes to “end the ban on gay men donating blood.”
  6. Marcos Vinicius Barboza, 27, a fitness professional from Ireland. This Brazilian immigrant would like to become Mr. Gay World, so he could represent the gay community and push for the “YES vote” at a time when his newfound home is about to hold a referendum for marriage equality.
  7. Italy’s Arziom Cristofaro, 22, is pursuing his degree in political science major in international relations at the University of Bari Aldo Moro. He believes that, “Freedom is an inviolable right: It’s about marriage, adoption or the simple fact of being gay.”
  8. Wayne Grech, 28, professional hairstylist and salon owner, is Malta’s first entrant in the global pageant’s history. He started modelling at 16, and represented his country at the Manhunt International pageant staged in South Korea a decade ago.
  9. Gabriel Jesus Naal Fernandez, 33, completed his bachelor’s degree in autonomy economics at the University of Yucatan. He works as an assistant manager of an entertainment team in Riviera Maya, a tourism and resort district in Mexico.
  10. Twenty-four year-old Matt Andrija Fistonich has a diploma in business and management, national certificates in real estate and firefighting, and awarded with advanced diploma in public safety (emergency management). He worked as a firefighter in New Zealand’s Defense Force for six years.
  11. Craig Maggs, 25, obtained his diploma in sports science at the Stellenbosch University in South Africa. This year’s “hometown gay” works for an HIV and Ebola research nongovernment organization during the day and is a restaurant waiter in Johannesburg at night.
  12. Jesus Martin Marquez, 30, is an “untouchable fixture” in Spain’s modeling industry. The gorgeous dancer, runway and commercial model hasn’t stepped into the South African soil yet, but the “Spanish Adonis” is already deemed to give the other delegates a run for their money.

The other contestants are Colombia’s Jorge Escribano Pelaez, 32, host and actor; Leonardo Piloto Gonzalez, 35, disc jockey, composer and music producer from Cuba; Czech Republic’s Daniel Frohlich, 20, shipping crew and call center agent; Alejandro Torres-Solanot Martinez, 26, university student from the Dominican Republic; Hong Kong’s Emmanuel Mass Luciano, 35, fashion designer, stylist and blogger; Sweden’s Carl Anton Ljungberg, 21, waiter and bartender; Luis Jorge Vicente, 29, runway model from Uruguay; and Zambia’s Siyathokoza Thabani Khumalo, 28, retail company buyer and planning coordinator.

HELP ADVANCE THE FILIPINO

Filipinos all over the world can help Nomer Yuzon win the Mr. Gay Popularity special award to possibly advance in the semifinal round by clicking MGW 2015 and voting once every 24 hours until 6 AM of May 1, Friday (Manila time).

The Philippines is a very promising non-winning country in Mr. Gay World. Wilbert Tolentino was named Mr. Gay Popularity and won Best in National Costume in 2009. And for half a decade now, all the Philippines’ gay emissaries made it to the semifinal round: David Noel Bosley in 2010; Marc Ernest Biala, also awarded Best in National Costume and Mr. Gay Popularity in 2011; Carlito Rosadiño, also adjudged Best in National Costume and Mr. Gay Popularity in 2012; Erimar Ortigas, named Mr. Gay Popularity in 2013; and Randolph Val Palma, sixth place overall in 2014. Hence, the pressure to equal if not exceed the feats of his predecessors is definitely on for Yuzon.

“If I would become Mr. Gay World, it will be easier for me to network. As an educator, an ‘openly gay’ teacher, I believe that I have the responsibility. I can easily reach out to a lot of students. I want to spearhead a project, ‘It’s OKAY to be GAY,’ because a lot of young gays still find it hard to come out these days. There’s still widespread discrimination in our society (also due to our traditional beliefs) that being gay is a disease, (or) it’s a shame. It’s just one of the things I want to change,” he concluded.

Past Filipino reps in Mr. Gay World who made it to the semifinal round include (from left) David Noel Bosley in 2010, Marc Ernest Biala in 2011, Carlito Rosadiño in 2012, Erimar Ortigas in 2013 and Randolph Val Palma in 2014.

Past Filipino reps in Mr. Gay World who made it to the semifinal round include (from left) David Noel Bosley in 2010, Marc Ernest Biala in 2011, Carlito Rosadiño in 2012, Erimar Ortigas in 2013 and Randolph Val Palma in 2014.

Mr. Gay World 2015 candidates (ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF THE CANDIDATES)

Mr. Gay World 2015 candidates (ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF THE CANDIDATES)

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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