Healthy sexuality is a vision to end sexual violence. Learning about healthy sexuality and finding the information, resources, and support you need is the first step in creating positive change for the future. It might be helpful to think about healthy sexuality as the opposite of sexual violence. Healthy sexuality is a vision for what sex, relationships, and growth can look like when positive skills, helpful information, and open communication are the standard. Healthy sexuality means having the knowledge and power to express sexuality in ways that enrich our lives. It’s about every person being able to make consensual, respectful, and informed choices. There is no room for pressure, violence, or control. For some people, the idea of healthy sexuality matches the information and values that have been shared with them from an early age. For others, this description of sexuality is a new idea, and it can be helpful to get more information before sharing this topic with others (from NSVRC, linked below).
1. Read about it.
There are innumerable resources available to educate people on issues related to sexual violence: blogs like this one, books, journal articles, websites, etc. The first book I always recommend for people to read – whether you are a survivor of sexual abuse, a secondary victim, or someone wanting to become better informed – is Rid of My Disgrace by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb. If you’ve read enough of my blog posts, you know that their book and articles on the topic of sexual abuse and sex trafficking appear routinely. The Holcombs are experienced in counseling survivors of abuse and their insight into the healing process is invaluable.
2. Write about it.
Do you have a blog? Facebook? Twitter? Is there a current events column in your school newspaper? Do you have a newsletter? Do you write for a magazine? Could you write a letter to a government official, asking them to use their power to better protect victims of rape? There are now so many ways to communicate to a broad audience. Spreading the word about sexual assault has never been simpler.
Talk to your own kids about safety concerns. Educate yourself so that you can educate others!
3. Start Local.
Look for ways to encourage survivors and raise awareness within your own community! Find a crisis prevention center or rape response program, contact the YMCA/YWCA or Red Cross, look for a sexual violence prevention program on campus, host a benefit, or bring a national or international campaign to your city. This month in particular, many support groups and crisis centers will be having open houses or similar events to raise awareness and support the survivors in their community.
4. Speak out and support survivors.
You may have suffered from sexual violence. If the time feels right, share your story. Use your voice, even anonymously, to dispel rape myths and battle rape culture. Personal testimonies are powerful because they remind each of us that we are not alone, that the pain of abuse is not limited to just one person.
If you are a survivor and feel you lack a support system, seek one out. Confide in a counselor or close family member. Look for a local support group where you can meet and heal alongside other people who have been through similar trauma. Start a journal to get your thoughts out on paper. Add something to your daily routine that will improve your overall health.
Maybe you have a close relative or friend who has been victimized through sexual violence. Let them know how much you love them, admire their courage, and value their friendship. If a painful anniversary is coming up, send a brief note to let them know that you’re thinking of them; remind them they have a support system.
Finally, if you have a family member or friend whom you believe to be in an abusive situation or who has been a victim of a sexual crime such as rape, consider finding a safe, appropriate opportunity to graciously ask them about it, as a way to help them find help. If you yourself are in danger of any type of abuse or have been victimized through sexual violence, talk to someone you trust or contact a helpline (list available under Global Contacts). If you are in immediate danger, call emergency services.