About Staying Negative

Staying Negative aims to emotionally engage, inspire and facilitate imagination in sexual health practices. The campaign profiles the real life stories of gay, bisexual and trans men who have sex with men (MSM). Men talk about all aspects of their life from coming out, relationships, sexuality and a broad range of other topics. While HIV and safe sex is an important part of all stories, it is not the exclusive focus.

Prior HIV prevention campaigns have traditionally focused on providing gay men with information that will encourage them to adopt safe sex behaviours. In reality, safe sex practices are influenced by a whole range of environmental and cultural factors. The campaign also provides an opportunity for HIV positive men to talk about their lives and discuss how their strategies to staying HIV negative were not successful. We understand that there is more than one way practice safe sex and adopt healthcare seeking behaviours, so let's be creative about it!

There are no real criteria for participants other than that they are MSM and happy to have their stories appear as part of the campaign. In addition to the personal stories, the website provides information on HIV/AIDS, sexual health, relationships and broad of the other relevant topics including domestic violence, drugs and alcohol and depression.

Violence

Household violence is used to describe violent, threatening or other behaviour by someone who coerces or controls a member of their family or causes the family member to be fearful (Family Law Act 1975, Section 4B). Household violence encompasses domestic violence and family violence.


Domestic violence

Domestic violence, also called intimate partner violence, is a form of violence that can occur in any relationship (family or partner). It affects people of any age and generally falls into three main categories.

  • Physical
    This is when one person deliberately uses physical force that has the potential for causing harm to the other person
  • Emotional
    An example of this is when one person is constantly putting the other down and making them feel small often through verbal abuse.
  • Financial
    This is when one partner exploits the financial vulnerability of the other and uses this against them

It’s important to remember that it doesn’t have to be within the home to be classified as domestic violence. Domestic violence can happen anywhere.

Same-sex relationships are not immune to domestic violence. Yet there is little community awareness of the existence and impact of same-sex violence, in both the gay and straight communities.  Domestic violence is about power and control. When both partners are of the same sex, people can incorrectly assume that they are ‘equal’ or that they should be.

If you feel you are in a violent relationship, you should contact Victoria Police and discuss your situation with them. If you have concerns about contacting the police you can always call the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers (GLLO) who specialise in GLBTI issues.

You can also turn to gay and lesbian community organisations for help, and you don’t have to wait until violence is life-threatening to do it.

Ask yourself the following simple questions:

  • Have acts of abuse come to seem natural in our relationship?
  • Is it ongoing?
  • Do I feel trapped?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you might benefit from talking to a counsellor who can listen to you, advise and help you. VAC/GMHC has a great counselling team who are specially trained to deal with GLBTI issues, including same sex domestic violence.

The impact of domestic violence can also go beyond just the people involved directly. Growing up in a household where domestic violence occurs can have serious impacts on a person’s mental health and their view of love and healthy relationships.

Family violence

Members of your family have no right to hurt or abuse you. Being young and dependent upon your family makes violence or abuse by family members seem impossible to overcome.

Peter and Adam both experienced family violence, at the hands of their fathers.

“I got the shit beat out of me and had my nose broken” - Adam

“I left home when I was fourteen.... I used to cop a lot of beatings and that sort of thing, so one day when he said he wanted me to leave I actually did.”  - Peter


Sexual violence

Sexual violence can be defined as any unwanted sexual act or behaviour towards someone through the use of power or force to intimidate or control others. Sexual violence includes sexual verbal abuse, unwanted touching, sexual harassment, incest, rape and sexual mutilation. This can happen to anyone in a range of different circumstances. Be wary of things like drink spiking where some form of drug is put into your drink when you’re not looking and when you become incapacitated, the perpetrator will take advantage of the situation. Sexual violence can also occur in a long term relationship – you never have to do anything that you are not comfortable doing. Incest is also a form of both family and sexual violence. It refers to sexual relations (a wide variety of actions) between people who are close blood relatives or closely linked within family circles.

Due to the intimate nature of sexual violence, it’s often not talked about and usually occurs behind closed doors, which can make it hard to address the issue. Sexual violence is not the fault of the victim and they always have the right to say no. If you are experiencing any form of sexual violence, as hard as it may be, it is important to talk to someone about it.

If you are witnessing it or think that it may be happening to someone you know, then try to talk with them and support them towards getting help. When left alone and ongoing, sexual violence can lead to quite severe mental, physical and reproductive consequences. Nobody should have to go through that kind of abuse.

Homophobic violence

Homophobic violence is a form of violence that is fuelled by a fear or hatred of homosexuality and it’s always unacceptable. Unfortunately, some men and women will still experience some forms of homophobic violence, whether in the public eye or not. We are lucky that in Australia, homosexuality has become a lot more acceptable in recent years, but in some countries any homosexual displays of affection or the mere knowledge that someone is gay could lead to homophobic abuse or violence.

Homophobic violence doesn’t necessarily have to come from strangers. Abuse can come from people close to you, family members, friends, work colleagues or people on the street. Abuse also doesn’t always necessarily take the form of physical violence; it can also take the form of verbal abuse or financial control. If you are experiencing any physical homophobic violence, report this to the police as it is unacceptable. There are GLBTIQ friendly police officers that are willing to listen to you. It is important to talk to someone, whether it is a counsellor or a friend, about what you are going through. Any abuse can have detrimental effects on your health and it is important to draw strength from those that support you.

We elaborate more about homophobia and associated abuse in the next section, “Homophobia”.

Finding Help

Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA)
Counselling & Support Line: 03 9635 3610
Free call throughout Victoria: 1800 806 292

Victorian Sexual Assault Crisis Line (After Hours)
Counselling & Support Lines: 03 8345 3495
Free call throughout Victoria: 1800 806 292 
Charges apply to calls from mobile phones, so ask the counsellor to return your call.

VAC/GMHC Counselling Service
Speak to the Duty Worker on (03) 9865 6700 weekdays between 2-4 PM to arrange a first, free appointment

Gay and Lesbian Switchboard
For counselling, information and referrals contact:
Melbourne: (03) 9663 2939, Mon-Thurs 6-10 pm (Wed 2-10 pm); Fri-Sun and public holidays 6-9 pm
Regional: 1800 184 527

Police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers
(03) 9247 6944

Hanover Crisis Accommodation (requires absolute homelessness)
(03) 9699 6388 (call as early as possible)

Centrelink 131 021 (appointments) or visit their Crisis Information page.

Tell us your story

Tell us your story

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Come and tell us your story! We would love to hear from you! If you want to find out a little more about how it all works, give Jessie a call at VAC on (03) 9865 6700, or email staying.negative@vac.org.au