C.A.R.E. (consent: ask, respect, empower)
SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND HEALTH: MAKING THE CONNECTIONS
Experiencing sexual violence can impact health.
Immediate effects of a sexual assault include contracting a sexually-transmitted infection (STI), becoming pregnant, or getting injured.
Survivors may experience mental or physical health challenges, such as anxiety or heart problems.
Sexual assault survivors often experience trauma. Trauma can lead to riskier sexual behaviors or future unhealthy or abusive relationships. Read more about the effects of trauma here.
Reproductive coercion is a form of abuse in which one partner tries to control whether another partner gets pregnant. This includes poking holes in condoms or removing the condom during sex, messing with birth control, or forcing or preventing a partner from obtaining an abortion. One quarter of young women in abusive relationships reported their partners were trying to get them pregnant.
To learn more about the connection between sexual violence and sexual health, contact Jessie@lafasa.org to view LaFASA’s webinar on the subject.
These negative outcomes are changeable. Survivors can obtain medical care, including STI and pregnancy prevention, at a hospital after an assault as part of a forensic exam (“rape kit”). They do not have to report the crime to the police in order to get an exam, and can choose what parts of the exam to receive. In addition, reaching out to advocates and mental health providers can combat trauma, and these professionals can give information and referrals. Find resources near you here.
CONSENT AND HEALTHY SEXUALITY
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center defines healthy sexuality as:
“The individual knowledge and sense of empowerment to express sexuality in ways that contribute positively to self-esteem and relationships with other people. It includes approaching sexual interactions and relationships from a perspective that is consensual, respectful, and informed. Healthy sexuality is free from coercion and violence.”
CARE centers consent for all sexual acts, respect for partners and your own health, and the ability to access necessary information and services.
Is given freely, not because one partner pressures another until they “give in.”
Is affirmative and active. Consent means saying “yes.”
To one sexual act is not consent to others. Making out is not consenting to sex, for example.
Can be taken away if someone wants to stop or slow things down. If your partner says no, seems hesitant, or is not sober enough to consent, you must stop.
Talking about sexual desires and boundaries, checking in with your partner, and protecting yourself and your partner are essential. We support information about sex and sexuality, the freedom to express one’s sexual and gender identity, and access to the services and treatment needed to live a healthy life.
If you are not having sex
CARE condoms are a tool for discussing healthy sexuality. But sexuality and consent are about much more than intercourse. We all deserve safety and knowledge, regardless of our decision whether or not to have sex. Choosing to hug, kiss, touch, or be intimate with someone is also rooted in consent. No one should force contact with anyone else.
A person’s goodness or virtue is not connected to whether or not they have had sex, and it certainly isn’t connected to whether they have been assaulted.
CONDOMS AND SAFER SEX
Knowledge is power! Some information about using condoms for safer sex:
Due to limited resources, only “male” condoms are available through CARE. This resource provides information on making dental dams using male condoms. Dental dams are used to protect the vagina or anus during oral sex or anilingus (“rimming”). In addition, many drugstores and health centers carry “female”/internal condoms, which are inserted into the vagina or anus.
Do not keep condoms in your wallet or anywhere else where they could break.
Keep condoms at room temperature. Do not expose them to heat.
Check that the condom is not expired.
Ensure that there is an “air bubble” in the package before opening the condom (if there isn’t an air bubble, there may have been tampering or damage.)
Do not open condoms with your teeth. Instead, slide condom to side and tear one side of the wrapper.
Unroll condom on erect, or hard, penis and ensure that there is room at top of condom for semen, or cum. The condom should unroll easily and comfortably. If it doesn’t you may have it on upside down.
Use water-based lube with CARE condoms and other latex condoms. Do not use oil or silicone-based lubricant with latex condoms. Never use food products such as cooking oils as a lubricant.
Only wear one condom. Do not “double up” because the condoms can break and you will not be protected.
Wear condoms for the duration of sex, remove promptly (right after orgasm, or while penis is still erect,) and dispose in trash. Do not flush the condom!
CARE is a new program, and we want to hear what you think! All answers are confidential.
FOR HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS, PREVENTION EDUCATORS, AND OTHERS