AFH Photo // Vo, Vanessa
A fact of domestic violence that is often left undiscussed is that men can be the victims in abusive relationships. Much like women, men can experience both physical and mental abuse. This includes men in both straight and gay relationships. 
Physical abuse can include a partner attacking them by hitting, slapping, or pushing. In the United States, about 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a romantic partner annually according to a 2011 CDC nationwide survey. Of the 23% of females and 14% of males who have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, they first encountered some form of partner violence between the ages of 11 and 17. According to the Department Of Justice, one out of every 10 rape victims is a man.  
Men also encounter emotional abuse. The Administration for Children and Families characterize emotional abuse as any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity and self-worth. If your partner calls you names or makes you feel bad about yourself, that is emotional abuse. 
One reason men do not discuss abuse could be the effects of toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity is a social construct that portrays men as unemotional, violent and sexually aggressive. This supports the idea that real men could not be victims. Many men tend not to seek help due to the fear of being viewed as “weak.” 
Rashid Acker, a junior at the John D. O’Bryant High School, said that males are not likely to report to anyone if they were in an abusive relationship because it would damage the perception of their masculinity. He also said that boys are not likely to talk to their friends about their situation due to fear of ridicule. Toxic masculinity deters males from receiving the help they need and contributes to cases going unreported.  
Sumeya Ali, also a junior at the O’Bryant, said, “Hyper masculinity says that men are supposed to be the “alpha male” but that is not the case at all. We are all humans and capable of emotions, regardless of our gender.”  
There is no one way to end the stigma. Brianna Moody, the Girl’s Health Coordinator at the YWCA, said, “Understanding the reasons why some people might remain in abusive relationships and acknowledging that leaving is hard can help to combat the stigma. There are often systemic barriers that need to be addressed [like racism or sexism] before interpersonal changes can be made. It’s never the victim’s fault.” 
If you find yourself in a position where you are afraid of your partner, you should seek help. Websites like are designed to help people in unhealthy relationships. They have an online chat room and a number you can text or call if you have questions. They also have FAQ’s about healthy and unhealthy relationships, and what to do if you ever find yourself in one. It is important to admit the fact that men can be victims of abusive relationships, as well as actively recognizing the signs of toxic masculinity and trying to end the stigma.  
Resources for teens experiencing intimate partner violence:
- An informative documentary that highlights the problem of toxic masculinity is The Mask You Live In, which can be found on Netflix.  
- SafeLink – 1-877-785-2020 (toll free) 
- National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) 
- National Sexual Assault Hotline – 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)  
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AFH Photo // Bobo, Esther
In Massachusetts, 4,418 adolescents and adults report being sexually assaulted each year. That is 12 people each day and one every two hours. This statistic, provided by the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC), is alarming.  
Tiffany Lam, a junior at Boston Latin Academy, defines rape as “when someone sexually assaults another person without any form of consent.” It is often misinterpreted that most rapes happen outside of the home with a stranger. However, according to BARCC, 80 percent of all rape cases occur in the home between people who know one another.  
Rape is a traumatic experience that forever alters the lives of its victims. BARCC is committed to giving survivors and their families the resources they need to reclaim their lives and begin healing. They raise awareness around the issues survivors face and aim to end sexual violence through social change. 
In today’s society, victims are often blamed for their rape. This is usually implied from the victim being questioned: What did they wear that night? Why didn’t they fight back? When victims are asked questions like this, they may feel discouraged from reporting the crime.  
For males, rape is seen as atypical. They often do not report their rape out of fear of being seen as weak. Society needs to stop judging victims and start thinking logically as to who the real perpetrator is. 
In April 2013, Emma Sulkowicz accused classmate Paul Nungesser of rape at Columbia University. After Columbia found Nungesser not responsible, Sulkowicz committed to carrying a mattress on her back throughout her senior year in protest of the decision. The student body turned against her once she started protesting. Someone even posted a cartoon of her naked in bed with a man. Sulkowicz was continuously accused of lying and blamed for causing the rape in the first place, while Nungesser was not held responsible. 
“It is the offender's fault because they have no self-control. It is not always the case in which victims are dressed [in a way] that causes them to be raped,” said Tyler Vantha, a junior at Boston Latin Academy.  
Alcohol can play a major role in victim blaming. In January 2015, Brock Turner was found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster at Stanford University. During the lawsuit, Turner claimed there had been consent, but this was not consensual because she was drunk and incoherent. Turner knew this and still continued. The case gained national attention and some people claimed it was the woman’s fault because she should have been careful about drinking alcohol. While Turner was found guilty, the judge gave him an unusually lenient sentence of six months, of which he served only three due to good behavior.   
We need to stop rape victimization. Patrick Donovan, Youth Clinical Outreach Coordinator at BARCC, says, “[Victims] did whatever they could to survive and their choices are the right way for them. There is no right way to help them, but BARCC will help on what they can do next, their rights and laws, or even to just listen to them.”  
As a society, we need to start understanding consent, and change our teaching from how to avoid rape, to teaching that rape is a crime. No one should ever experience this. We must commit to ending rape culture and shift our focus from the blame game to creating an environment where perpetrators are held accountable and victims are able to report crimes, free of social shaming and blaming.  
The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) is committed to giving survivors and their families and friends the resources they need to reclaim their lives and begin healing, to raising awareness of the issues survivors face, and to ending sexual violence through healing and social change. 
24-hour hotline: 800.841.8371 
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AFH Photo // Bobo, Esther
Within the bustling city of Boston, the streets hide a gruesome truth. Homelessness has plagued Boston for decades, and the number of homeless individuals and families are still on the rise. 
Boston’s 2015 annual homeless census counted 7,663 homeless men, women, and children, with 139 unsheltered individuals. While there are fewer unsheltered individuals than the previous year, the total number of men, women and children without a stable home is rising.  
“With extremely low rental vacancy rates for households looking to rent apartments and out-of-reach rental costs for units that are available, many Boston residents experience homelessness and housing insecurity. At the same time, Boston -- and Massachusetts as a whole -- have very complex and multi-layered responses to homelessness,” says Kelley Turley, Director of Legislative Advocacy for the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless.  
The census also found that the number of homeless families in Boston rose 25% between 2014 and 2015, and the number of homeless youth is on the rise nationwide. The National Homeless Coalition notes that homeless youth are at a higher risk for mental health problems, substance abuse and sexual abuse. Between 20 to 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ, who are even more likely than their counterparts to experience sexual abuse. It is more difficult for homeless youth to find shelter because adult shelters are often unsafe and there are fewer emergency beds for young people. 
However, there are several organizations in Boston devoted exclusively to this issue. Bridge Over Troubled Water has been helping homeless youth and runaways since the 1960’s. They provide counseling, in-house medical services, accessible education and other daily support.  
In 2012, Harvard graduates opened Boston’s first student-run overnight shelter for youth: Y2Y. Based in Harvard Square, the organization seeks to provide dignity, safety, and adaptability for young adults experiencing homelessness. Many of the shelter’s volunteers are college students. “What unified us was this simple belief that people our own age should not be sleeping right outside our dorms,” reads a quote on their website. 
“Young people are important players in the work to promote housing stability,” says Turley. “[The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless] has been working with youth and young adults for the past six years to create a systemic statewide response to homelessness among unaccompanied youth (young people outside the custody and care of a parent or guardian). Young people with and without housing have come up to the State House with us to share their recommendations to lawmakers and to tell their personal stories.” 
Human compassion drives many of the organizations and individuals working with the homeless. Volunteers in homeless shelters and organizations are at the core of the movement to improve the Boston housing situation. Although homelessness may seem like a large, menacing, undefeatable issue, the solution begins with one person’s decision to make a difference.  
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AFH Photo // Heap, Tristin
Rachel Gies has been a fan of the Franklin Park Zoo since she was young. “I like the zoo a lot because I enjoy seeing all the different kinds of animals in real life, not just in books and on television,” said the junior at Boston Latin School. Like many New England children, Gies has often wondered what happens to animals during the winter.  
Many zoos that experience frigid winters have policies in place to protect their animals from the extreme weather. John Piazza, Zoo New England Mammal Curator, is responsible for managing the mammal collection at both Franklin Park and Stone Zoo. Piazza says, “I work with our zookeepers on a daily basis to monitor our animals’ behaviors and actions as a means of keeping them healthy, safe and comfortable. We are lucky to have a lot of resources to assist in accomplishing those goals.” 
At Franklin Park Zoo, lions have a special heated rock to keep them warm and African dogs can escape into heated caves. Piazza states, “Many of the species that hail from tropical regions have permanent indoor exhibits and are not affected during the winter months. The Tropical Forest at Franklin Park Zoo is a good example of this. This large indoor space, which is kept at 72 degrees year-round, is home to western lowland gorillas, ring-tailed lemurs, pygmy hippos, Baird’s tapirs, free-flight birds and many other species.” Piazza adds that tropical animals are more vulnerable to the cold. “We take great care to ensure these species have adequate heat, light and sometimes adjustments to seasonal dietary needs,” he said.  
Joanne Leu, a junior at John D. O’Bryant, always assumed the animals were brought inside once all the visitors were gone. She also concluded that their fur would keep them warm.  Leu is correct, some animals require less attention than other. “North American porcupines and reindeer – all of which are well-adapted to winter weather -- usually only require a minimal amount of heat be provided in their shelter,” said Piazza. 
Both the Franklin Park and Stone Zoo are accredited by Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This means they “undergo a rigorous six-month long review, as well as an on-site inspection by a team of experts who examine the animal collection; veterinary care; exhibits and physical facilities; safety; security; finances; staffing and involvement in education, conservation and research,” said Piazza.  
While the winter months are long, animals are kept physically and mentally occupied. An enrichment committee is responsible for understanding how animals act in their natural environments so they can recreate it. “Whether an animal likes to stalk and chase its prey, burrow underground to hide, or forage for food, its behavior is taken into consideration when creating enrichment.” 
Through observation and research, zookeepers have thoughtfully created environments where different species can survive year round in environments that most closely resemble their natural habitats. The next time you find yourself visiting the animals at the Franklin Park Zoo, know they are well taken care of all year round.  
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AFH Photo // Chen, Yvonne Yanying
History often repeats itself. Natural disasters, war and social turbulence occur every day, from Syria to Massachusetts. In times of need, the United States should help foreign countries in difficult situations by donating resources to help ease the difficulty and help the population get back on their feet.  
According to CNN, during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, estimates of 220,000 to 316,000 people died, 300,000 people were injured, 1.5 million people were displaced and almost 4,000 schools were damaged. Most people were badly affected in this situation. During that earthquake, most schools were damaged and now many kids don’t have the chance to get an education. This situation is going to affect the country in the long term because if children don’t get the right amount of food, sleep or education it will harm the well being of that generation. For the people who are having the most difficult time, the U.S. government should provide aid so they can get better.  
CNN reported that over $13 billion in aid was allocated by international agencies to Haiti for 2010 - 2020, according to the United Nations. The U.S. allocated $4 billion, and deployed civilian and military personnel to carry out activities ranging from search and rescue operations, restoring air and seaports, providing life saving health and medical services, and helping meet the basic food, water, and shelter needs of the Haitian people. This is a great example of countries coming together in times of need.  
With the current refugee crisis in Syria, last year the U.S. admitted just over 12,000 Syrian refugees, according to the Pew Research Center. Meanwhile, Canada took in 26,000 individuals from Syria in just three months last year, reports the Guardian. As the refugee crisis continues to grow in 2017, what should the role of the United States be? 
Alyssa Hughes, history teacher at Boston International High School, thinks, “In general, we should, as citizens of the United States, think of ourselves as a part of a national community to help each other in crisis in the global community.” She thinks that we as “global citizens are responsible for people around the world.” However, Hughes also talks about how all country leaders should cooperate with one another, not just the U.S., in providing aid, because a country should not be dependent on others.  
Boston International High School English teacher Catherine Finkenstaedt said the responsibility of America should not be just financial support, but also “medicine, schools, food and housing. The U.S. should not help right way after the disaster, but think about the long term.” 
We as citizens need to encourage our government to take action and assist other countries when they are in need by rebuilding their economy and improving their quality of life after a crisis. It is in everyone’s best interest if we all help each other out. 
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