Zoom workshops draw attention to sexual awareness

By Juan Calvillo

East Los Angeles College’s Sexual Assault Awareness Violence Education (SAAVE) team hosted Sexual Assault Awareness events courtesy of ELAC Support Center. Due to COVID-19, adjustments had to be made in terms of where it would be held and how to meet, so the events were hosted via Zoom video conferencing.

Loving and Consent: A Conversation about Safer Sex and HIV Prevention was an informative workshop on when and how to know someone has granted consent to proceed with sexual activity. The workshop was facilitated by Alejandra Aguilar-Avelino, East Los Angeles Women’s Center Lead Health Educator. Consent and communication are essential to the basis of safe sex.

There can be instances in which negative consent can come into play and it should not. Refusing to acknowledge “no,” assuming that wearing certain clothes, flirting or kissing as an invitation for anything more and pressuring someone into sexual activity by using fear or intimidation are some examples of what can be described as negative consent. Positive consent is communicating. When you can change the type or degree of sexual activity with phrases like “Is this OK?” and/or explicitly agreeing to certain activities either by saying “yes” or another affirmative statement like “I’m open to trying.” Avelino said that “sex is more than penetration.” She asked attendees what their thoughts were on safe sex, one attendee answered “birth control and std testing.”

The workshop then shifted to the topic of Intimate Partner Violence. The ELAWC defines Intimate Partner Violence as violence conducted by a current or former partner. Women that have experienced IPV can be at a higher risk of contracting HIV. Aguilar-Avelino said that modern medication can prevent HIV from mutating into AIDS or being transmitted, however, there is no cure. HIV is a virus that is constantly mutating, which makes it harder to find a cure for it. One thing that helps prevent the transmission of HIV is something called U=U, where if you are HIV positive, but you have very low amounts of it, you will not be able to transfer it to someone who is HIV negative, said Avelino. Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a type of medication that can help those who are HIV negative reduce their chances of any exposure.

Women who have been victims of IPV can seek counseling. The ELAWC provides testing for people who believe they might have HIV. They also offer counseling for HIV carriers. These services are also available to men. Coping with Overwhelming Emotions, a worksop that was directed by Daniela Gonzales and Madelin Melara, two domestic violence and sexual assault therapists.

The workshop aimed to inform attendees on ways to cope with their overwhelming feelings in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The seminar centered around our current pandemic and how it can affect how we may be feeling. Gonzalez and Melara discussed how emotions can change a person and their overall lifestyle. Being in quaratanine can cause many overwhelming emotions, the main one being anxiety, from there it can cause feelings of dread, fear, nervousness, stress and feelings of unease. They gave instruction on how to meditate. Focusing on things that help keep your brain moving and at ease.

They later went over the concept of grounding and what that means to a person. It’s a form of centering the mind, as it helps a person detach from emotional pain. There are three types of grounding; mental, physical and soothing. It helps the person focus on the environment and helps relax those strong emotions you carry and ease you back into reality.

Mental starts with the mind by describing your environment and seeing and talking about the color and textures and the sounds.

Physical grounding was explained as a sense of feeling what’s around you, instead of the overwhelming feeling or the pain felt inside.

Soothing, which is talking to yourself in a very calm way. It’s important to do this because we go through many things that affect our emotions everyday. We can do this by saying motivational statements and kind statements.

The ELAWC has a 24-hour crisis hotline for anyone dealing with violence or abuse, their services are open to men as well. The crisis hotline can be reached at (800) 855-6231


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