Content note: This article contains mentions of domestic violence, violence against women, and murder.

Wake me up when September ends. Remember that old Green Day song? I’m kinda feeling it right now. My dog of 11 years, Fiver, died earlier this month, and the grief has been real.

The loss of a beloved pet can trigger intense feelings of anguish. Part of this has to do with the bond you have, which studies show drives up levels of oxytocin (a feel-good hormone) in both human and animal. Those levels can plummet after a such a loss.

You might be dealing with something similar. And you might be hardcore struggling. Just know that it’s OK to grieve, to talk about it, to ask for help, to feel All. The. Feels. I definitely am.

And speaking of September… it’s been heavy. This Download comes with a note that we’re going to talk about domestic violence. But we’ve also got COVID deets and some other stuff. I promise. OK, buckle up…

Gabby Petito’s remains were found in Wyoming, and the FBI has ruled her death a homicide. The 22-year-old had gone on a cross-country road trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie. Her parents reported her missing on September 11 when she did not return home with him. Moab police responded to an incident involving the couple on August 12.

Our hearts go out to her loved ones at this difficult time. I bring up her story because, sadly, her death highlights several important topics.

The Gabby Petito tragedy is a big reminder that domestic violence happens everywhere — constantly. Often, abuse or assault perpetrators will gaslight their victims into believing the problem is the victim’s fault rather than the abuser’s effing fault. And abuse isn’t always overt, as in physical. It can be verbal or controlling.

I compiled this chart with info from an article on domestic violence resources by Greatist writer Laura Newcomer.

Red flags your partner may be abusing you

In youIn your partner
fear of partnerisolating you from others
missing work/schoolmonitoring your phone/internet use
personality changesblaming you for their problems
low self-esteemoutbursts, wall punching, etc.
sleep issuescontrolling behavior
anxiety about pleasing partnercriticizing, belittling
physically harming you
threatening self-harm
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If you’re in an abusive relationship, if you’re not sure, or if you just need to talk it out with a safe person, here are some resources. In many cases you can call, text, or use a chat function.

All these tools are confidential. Some of these options even have a security feature in case your partner walks into the room and you need to click off the website ASAP. For example, pressing your escape key while browsing the National Domestic Violence Hotline will take you to a clean browser window for quickly Googling whatevs.

Domestic violence resources

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Gabby Petito’s remains were found in Wyoming, a state where 466 Indigenous women were reported missing over the last 10 years. Of note, a study found that only 18 percent of Indigenous women who were reported missing in the state received newspaper media coverage.

Yet Gabby Petito made headlines in every major media outlet — and then some — after she was reported missing. I’m glad her story got attention. But every missing person’s story should get attention.

Wyoming is certainly not the only place where Indigenous women and girls are under serious threat. Murder is the third leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls ages 1 to 19 in the United States. Yes, you read that right: murder. (FYI: Murder isn’t even in the top 10 for the overall U.S. population.)

An analysis by the Urban Indian Health Institute found that, in 2016 alone, 5,712 American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls were reported missing. But the U.S. Department of Justice logged only 116 cases in the federal missing persons database. WT ever-living F? This is a national crisis in the United States. And it has been for a long time.

But it’s also an issue in Mexico and Canada. Please read about the Highway of Tears, for example. And we all need to come together to help.

Right now, for the overall U.S. population, COVID-19 is our number 3 killer, behind heart disease and cancer. And the United States have passed a grim milestone: Deaths from COVID-19 have now surpassed 675,000, the number of deaths estimated during the 1918 flu pandemic.

New news on boosts. I wouldn’t blame you if you’re befuddled about boosters. The news has been changing rapidly. Here’s the latest. The Food and Drug Administration has now authorized booster doses of Pfizer-BioNTech for the following folks who originally received that vax:

Pfizer boosts for these peeps

  • 65 years and older
  • 18 and older at high risk of severe COVID-19
  • 18 and older with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to COVID-19
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Hang tight for info to come on potential recommendations for a Moderna booster and maybe even a Johnson & Johnson booster. The data on those still needs to go through FDA regulatory review.

Keep in mind that if you’re immunocompromised and meet certain criteria, you’re already eligible to receive a third shot of Moderna or Pfizer, depending on which vax you previously received. Pfizer is authorized for ages 12 and up, while Moderna is authorized for those 18 and up. Talk with your doc about dose timing.

Netflix’s “MAID” starts on October 1.

Why am I talking about TV? I like a good binge, baby. But in all seriousness… this limited series is based on the bestselling memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land. The book explores the trauma of poverty in America, the problems and myths of federal safety net programs, the vicious cycle of low pay, and how poverty impacts health.

But that should be all dang year, #AmIRight? Did you know that Awkward Essentials sells this thing called “the dripstick” to soak up excess fluid in the vaginal canal after sex? It doesn’t prevent STIs or pregnancy. It’s just a handy tool if, say, the TP isn’t cutting it.

At Greatist, we write a lot about sexual health. I’ve compiled a mix of topics for your reading, ahem, pleasure.

Talk to you next week, when hopefully health news is as light as the fall leaves flitting to the ground… We can dream, right?