People often say that silence and embarrassment are the main barriers for talking about sexual health. Speaking out about feeling safe and sexual health is hard for anybody to talk about.
The purpose of this article is to:
A) make it easier to talk about sexual health
B) find ways to express yourself in an intimate relationship.
C) Give information about health and safety.
D) To talk about how stigma and discrimination affects victims.
E) Give useful details to provide more help.
Why is sexual safety important?
Everyone has the right to be safe from abuse of any kind be it physical or psychological and it's never the victims fault. Unfortunately people who experience mental health issues can be vulnerable to exploitation and assault. It can happen to teenagers, adults, males and females of all ages and cultures.
The impact of trauma can have lasting affects on emotions and being able to express yourself. This could present as depression, anxiety or fear and the victim may sometimes be in denial in how the event has affected them. This can also affect the ability to form intimate and healthy relationships. Trauma can also lead to substance-abuse, weight management, vulnerability and harassment. If you experience any of these it can be helpful to seek out counselling or professional help.
Safety is important and consent is the first step to let all parties know when sex is wanted. Never assume you know what another person wants. In Australia if a person between the ages of 16-18 is exposed to sexual activity by a guardian, priest, health worker, teacher, coach or employer than consent is not valid.
A) freely given
Assault and harassment also have serious impacts and can include;
A) touching, kissing or feeling.
B) when a person is unable to consent ie; children, intoxicated.
C) intrusive questions about your body or private life.
D) behaviour which would be an offence under criminal law.
Sexual contact between an adult and child is never ok!
Sexual assault is when someone is forced or tricked into an act against their will. Assault is also when someone is unable to consent ie; intoxicated, asleep or using a position of power. Assault can happen to anyone and is often carried out by men or a person known to the victim.
It's important to talk to your partner about what you want and what you don't want in a relationship. In return it's important to respect your partners needs. Don't pressure anyone to do the things they don't want to do, weather or not you’re in a relationship.
Sexual behaviour includes; kissing, cuddling, massage, masturbation, oral sex, and intercourse. Not everyone wants these things and that's ok, it's your right to say no at any point.
The rights of other people need to be respected, if you live with other people you might not have as much privacy as you like. Organise some private space or ask someone you trust to help you. Remember your responsibilities as an adult when posting photos or using technology and media outlets. NO always means NO!
Speaking with a health professional
It can be embarrassing to speak about sexual activities but problems don't go away by themselves! It's important to find a safe space and someone you can trust to talk about and raise your concerns, that's where health professionals can help you. They include; nurses, doctors, physiologists, social workers, occupational therapists, and care workers. Fixing the problem could involve; health checkups, counselling, discussing past traumas, reviewing medication with doctors and even stopping or cutting down drug and alcohol use.
NSLHD MHDA 2019
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