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September is Sexual Health Awareness Month

September is Sexual Health Awareness Month

woman holding her head, with a tape on her mouth with a #metoo text

There are a plethora of ways in which we are told to help maintain positive physical, mental, and emotional health. The one area of our health that is less frequently discussed, but equally important is our sexual health. As a culture, we see sexuality broadcasted across multi-media platforms in our everyday lives, but practicing a healthy sex life involves more than simply having an active sex life. The National Coalition for Sexual Health defines being sexually healthy as having a safe, satisfying sexual life, positive relationships, and peace of mind. Sexual health also means enjoying one’s sexuality and taking care of oneself and partner as well as feeling empowered and safe to talk about sexual health with your partner and health care providers.

Consent & Boundaries

The #MeToo movement has been a catalyst for discussion around an important topic for optimal sexual health – consent and boundaries. Discourse around sexual health along with the brave stories from survivors have highlighted the taboos, nuances, and misunderstandings around the difficult and sometimes divisive topic. Consent is often not included when sexual health is taught in schools, and many adolescents enter their sexual lives unaware of the autonomy they have over their sexual well-being or how to respect the sexual well-being of intimate partners. According to Planned Parenthood, consent is an agreement to participate in sexual activity. Consenting and choosing not to consent is a part of one’s boundaries. It’s also important to know that consent between both people must be communicated and can be reversed at any time, should one want to stop engaging in sexual activity. Consent must also be freely given. Authentic consent is not achieved if it is given as a result of pressure, manipulation, or coercion. There should be no question about consent, so excuses such as, “we’ve had sex before,” or “we were drunk and it just happened,” are not viable or free passes to cross another’s sexual boundaries.

Sexual Harassment Culture in the Workplace

Consent does not only apply to overt sexual activity. As is evident by the outpouring of allegations since the initial outcry to start the #MeToo movement, too many people experience sexual harassment in their places of work in the forms of unsolicited verbal and physical contact. Workplace sexual harassment often happens between someone of superiority and power, such as a boss or manager, and a subordinate employee, with less power and authority. While it’s not unheard of for people to become romantically involved with their co-workers; the problem arises when the sexual gestures and advances are exerted either without consent of one of the parties or to prey on a person, using manipulative promises of career and/or financial gain. According to a study conducted by stopstreetharassment.org, 38% of women have experienced sexual violations at their place of work. It’s important to note that men experience sexual harassment at work as well, with 13% of men also reporting sexual violations at work.

Sexual harassment has been a problem in the work place for decades. Media often depicts inappropriate work cultures as something of the past. Many assume now that sexual harassment is less common since the work culture has shifted and companies make more strides to protect their employees through Human Resources and anonymous hotlines, however, the issue has not disappeared by any means. Inappropriate sexual behaviors and power dynamics in the workplace still very much exist and the most beneficial action employers can take to protect their employees is to not ignore the issue or sweep it under the rug for the sake of comfort.

If you’d like to implement a more safe, transparent, and healthy work environment, Triune Therapy Group offers consultation services that aim to cultivate and maintain a healthy work culture free of sexual assault and harassment. We can also assist in working with employers after an allegation has been made, to provide robust evaluations and treatment for both the accused and victimized. For more information on how Triune Therapy Group can help your business, please call 310-933-4088 or email info@triunetherapy.com

Posted on behalf of Triune Therapy Group

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