What's a 'blesser'? Can these relationships make me more at risk of HIV?
'Blesser' is a term often used to describe relationships where one partner gives the other gifts or money, often in exchange for dating or having sex. You might have heard words such as 'sugar daddy' or 'sugar mamma' to describe them.
Although every person has the right to decide the relationships they want, think carefully about having a 'blesser', as these relationships can be particularly difficult and might have some risks that you're not aware of. For example:
1. When someone gives you money, you might feel like you owe them something. Feeling indebted to someone can leave you feeling unable to refuse them the things that they ask for. If they ask you for sex without a condom, you might feel unable to say no. With less power to decide what sex you want, you might be more at risk of HIV. Remember, you should always be able to say no to things that make you feel uncomfortable.
2. Blessers are often older. This will normally mean that they have had more sexual partners. Because of this they are more likely to already have STIs that they could pass on. This is one of the reasons that having blessers can increase your HIV risk.
3. Blessers may have other relationships. Blessers are more likely to be married or have other relationships. If you and/or your blesser are seeing other people you need to make sure that you use condoms or other means of protection. The more people you are having sex with the greater your HIV risk is likely to be.
How do I help someone in an unhealthy relationship?
These situations can be complicated. You don't have to have all the answers, but it's important that the person knows that you are there for them and that you will support them.
If you suspect that someone you know might be in a relationship that's unhealthy, find a gentle way of asking them about it. Often people in bad relationships find it hard talk about this with other people. They may believe that somehow it's their fault or feel embarrassed about how they are treated. Saying things like 'Are you ok?' or 'Do you want to talk to me about anything?', will show the person that you care and want to listen to them.
It's important that you take someone seriously if they tell you about problems in their relationship. Avoid saying things that might suggest it's their fault, for example: "What did you do to make your partner behave like that?" You should also avoid saying things that make it sound like you don't believe them, for example, asking "but why would they do that?" Having someone to listen and believe you is important when working out what to do about an unhealthy relationship.
The decision to leave a relationship will always be that person's to make. You can't force someone to leave a bad relationship. Leaving a controlling or abusive partner can be very frightening. It's important that the person has sufficient support, especially if they are worried about their safety. If this is what they decide they want to do, it's better if other people are involved, so that together you can help keep the person safe. Encourage them to identify other people that they trust and are happy to tell. You shouldn't have to support them alone. It's helpful if a person with authority knows, such as a parent, police man, a chief or a healthcare worker.
Is it safe to meet people online?
When you go online, whether on facebook, WhatsApp or other sites, there's more opportunities to meet people that you don't know in real life. This can mean that you can make connections with other people with the same unique interests, but it can also be something to be wary of, as meeting people online can have risks.
It's important to remember that there are all sorts of different people online and not everyone is who they say they are. It's very easy to have a fake name, picture and life story. Some people may be using the internet with bad intentions. It's safer not to meet up with people in real life that you have only spoken to online. If you do decide to meet with someone you have met online, follow these rules:
1. Choose a public place to meet, for example a busy cafe
2. Bring a friend or someone you know
3. Make sure that other people know where you are going, when to expect you back and how to get in touch with you.
If you get the sense that something might not be safe, listen to your instincts. It's also important to remember that it's difficult to control information that you share online. If you wouldn't be comfortable with everyone seeing something, then don't post it online, even if you think that you are sharing it with a person you can trust.