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My Views on HIV Criminalization

There are three problems with this. Firstly, HIV experts from around the world concluded that HIV criminalization does nothing to stop the spreading of the virus; instead, these type of laws actually undermine the public health goal of promoting HIV screening and treatment.

If this law should be implemented in Jamaica, people will be even more afraid of knowing their status by implying that sexually active HIV positive people can go to prison if the virus has been transmitted to another.

Secondly, the laws are unjust and counterproductive, stigma and discrimination already surrounds HIV so turning every sexual encounter by positive individuals into a possible criminal act will only add to more shame and stigmatization.

Thirdly, most irritant (to my mind), the laws are simply bad science; most have not been updated since the early 90’s and thus reflect an almost laughable misunderstanding of the virus.

Sex always entails some level of risk. A risk we all are responsible for protecting ourselves against. In a perfect world, the disclosure discussion would precede every sexual encounter, but this isn’t a perfect world.

We will not make it better by locking away people under obsolete law rooted in uncontrollable emotion hysteria, negative attitude and feelings towards homosexuality and junk science.

By: JCW+ Participant

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Owning Our Power

Sophie Strachan

We don’t have to give others so much power and ourselves so little. We don’t have to give others so much credit and ourselves so little. In recovery from codependency, we learn there’s a big difference between humility and discounting ourselves.
When others act irresponsibly and attempt to blame their problems on us, we no longer feel guilty. We let them face their own consequences.
When others talk nonsense, we don’t question our own thinking.
When others try to manipulate or exploit us, we know it’s okay to feel anger and distrust and to say no to the plan.
When others tell us that we want something that we really don’t want, or someone tells us that we don’t want something that we really do want, we trust ourselves. When others tell us things we don’t believe, we know it’s okay to trust our instincts.
We can even change our mind later.
We don’t have to give up our personal power to anyone: strangers, friends, spouses, children, authority figures, or those over whom we’re in authority. People may have things to teach us. They may have more information than we have, and may appear more confident or forceful than we feel. But we are equals. Our magic is not in them. Our magic, our light, is in us. And it is as bright a light as theirs.
We are not second-class citizens. By owning our power, we don’t have to become aggressive or controlling. We don’t have to discount others. But we don’t discount ourselves either.
Today, I will own my power with people. I will let myself know what I know, feel what I feel, believe what I believe, and see what I see. I will be open to changing and learning from others and experience, but I will trust and validate myself too. I will stand in my own truth.

Directness

Sophie Strachan

We feel safe around direct, honest people. They speak their minds, and we know where we stand with them.
Indirect people, people who are afraid to say who they are, what they want, and what they’re feeling, cannot be trusted. They will somehow act out their truth even though they do not speak it. And it may catch everyone by surprise.
Directness saves time and energy. It removes us as victims. It dispenses with martyrdom and games. It helps us own our power. It creates respectful relationships.
It feels safe to be around direct, honest people. Be one.
Today, I will own my power to be direct. I do not have to be passive, nor do I need to be aggressive. I will become comfortable with my own truth so those around me can become comfortable with me.

Strength & feelings

 

by Sophie Strachan

We don’t always have to be strong to be strong. Sometimes, our strength is expressed in being vulnerable. Sometimes, we need to fall apart to regroup and stay on track.
We all have days when we cannot push any harder, cannot hold back self-doubt, cannot stop focusing on fear, cannot be strong.
There are days when we cannot focus on being responsible. Occasionally, we don’t want to get out of our pajamas. Sometimes, we cry in front of people. We expose our tiredness, irritability, or anger.
Those days are okay. They are just okay.
Part of taking care of ourselves means we give ourselves permission to “fall apart” when we need to. We do not have to be perpetual towers of strength. We are strong. We have proven that. Our strength will continue if we allow ourselves the courage to feel scared, weak, and vulnerable when we need to experience those feelings.
Today, God, help me to know that it is okay to allow myself to be human. Help me not to feel guilty or punish myself when I need to “fall apart.”

Letting Go of Shame

Sophie Strachen

Many of us were victimized, sometimes more than once. We may have been physically abused, sexually abused, or exploited by the addictions of another.
Understand that if another person has abused us, it is not cause for us to feel shame. The guilt for the act of abuse belongs to the perpetrator, not the victim.
Even if in recovery we fall prey to being victimized, that is not cause for shame.
The goal of recovery is learning self-care, learning to free ourselves from victimization, and not to blame ourselves for past experiences. The goal is to arm ourselves so we do not continue to be victimized due to the shame and unresolved feelings from the original victimization.
We each have our own work, our issues, our recovery tasks. One of those tasks is to stop pointing our finger at the perpetrator, because it distracts us. Although we hold each person responsible and accountable for his or her behavior, we learn compassion for the perpetrator. We understand that many forces have come into play in that person’s life. At the same time, we do not hold on to shame.
We learn to understand the role we played in our victimization, how we fell into that role and did not rescue ourselves. But that is information to arm us so that it need not happen again.
Let go of victim shame. We have issues and tasks, but our issue is not to feel guilty and wrong because we have been victimized.
Today, I will set myself free from any victim shame I may be harboring or hanging on to.

Letting Our Anger Out

Sophie Strachen

It’s okay to be angry, but it isn’t healthy to be resentful. Regardless of what we learned as children, no matter what we saw role-modeled, we can learn to deal with our anger in ways that are healthy for us and for those around us. We can have our angry feelings. We can connect with them, own them, feel them, express them, release them, and be done with them.
We can learn to listen to what anger is telling us about what we want and need in order to take care of ourselves.
Sometimes we can even indulge in angry feelings that aren’t justified. Feelings are just feelings; there is no morality in the feeling, only in our behavior. We can feel angry without hurting or abusing others or ourselves. We can learn to deal with anger in ways that benefit our relationships instead of ways that harm them.
If we don’t feel our angry feelings today, we will need to face them tomorrow.
Today, I will let myself feel my anger. I will express my anger appropriately, without guilt. Then I will be done with it.

Holding Your Own

Trust yourself. Trust what you know.
Sometimes, it is hard to stand in our own truth and trust what we know, especially when others would try to convince us otherwise.
In these cases, others may be dealing with issues of guilt and shame. They may have their own agenda. They may be immersed in denial. They would like us to believe that we do not know what we know; they would like us not to trust ourselves; they would prefer to engage us in their nonsense.
We don’t have to forfeit our truth or our power to others. That is codependency.
Believing lies is dangerous. When we stop trusting our truth, when we repress our instincts, when we tell ourselves there must be something wrong with us for feeling what we feel or believing what we believe, we deal a deadly blow to our self and our health.
When we discount that important part of ourselves that knows what is the truth, we cut ourselves off from our center. We feel crazy. We get into shame, fear, and confusion. We can’t get our bearings when we allow someone to pull the rug from under us.
This does not mean that we are never wrong. But we are not always wrong.
Be open. Stand in our truth. Trust what you know. And refuse to buy into denial, nonsense, bullying, or coercion that would like to take you off course.
Ask to be shown the truth, clearly—not by the person trying to manipulate or convince you, but by yourself, your Higher Power, and the Universe.
Today, I will trust my truth, my instincts, and my ability to ground myself in reality. I will not allow myself to be swayed by bullying, manipulating, games, dishonesty, or people with peculiar agendas

Being Honest with Ourselves

Sophie Strachen

Our relationship with ourselves is the most important relationship we need to maintain. The quality of that relationship will determine the quality of our other relationships.
When we can tell ourselves how we feel, and accept our feelings, we can tell others.
When we can accept what we want and need, we will be ready to have our wants and needs met.
When we can accept what we think and believe, and accept what’s important to us, we can relay this to others.
When we learn to take ourselves seriously, others will too.
When we learn to chuckle at ourselves, we will be ready to laugh with others.
When we have learned to trust ourselves, we will be trustworthy and ready to trust.
When we can be grateful for who we are, we will have achieved self-love.
When we have achieved self-love and accepted our wants and needs, we will be ready to give and receive love.
When we’ve learned to stand on our own two feet, we’re ready to stand next to someone.
Today, I will focus on having a good relationship with myself.