By Ashley Maier on October 11, 2013 · tagged as , , , ,

It’s time to be at the table: Reflections from two sexual health promotion events

One thing was very clear: sexual and domestic violence prevention practitioners need to be at the sexual health table.  During the last two weeks of September, I was fortunate to have two tangible opportunities to make the connection between sexual violence prevention and sexual health promotion.  The first was by representing CALCASA and PreventConnect at the inaugural meeting of the National Coalition for Sexual Health (NCSH), a national group that “aims to improve sexual health and well-being by encouraging productive and sustained conversations about sexual health and promoting high quality sexual health information and health services.”  The group will soon be launching its framework for sexual health and publishing related, helpful documents and resources.  Check back here at preventconnect.org for more information as the NCSH officially launches.

The second opportunity to make the connection was at the California Wellness Foundation’s Joint Conference on Women’s Health and Teen Pregnancy Prevention.  There, I presented on the topic, Women and Violence: Leveraging Capacity for Prevention and Treatment, with Futures Without Violence’s Virginia Duplessis. We discussed intersections between sexual and domestic violence, their impacts on women’s lives, and the implications for prevention and response.  We know that the same factors that foster one from of violence against women often foster other forms of violence against women.  With the audience, we discussed shared risk and protective factors between sexual and domestic violence, root causes, prevention strategies, and best practices for identification and response, such as health care screening.  Access materials from the conference, including slides from our session, here.

At both events, I was one of few individuals from sexual and domestic violence prevention in the midst of many sexual health promotion practitioners (teen pregnancy prevention, HIV/STD prevention and treatment, LGBT health, etc.)  I had many great conversations about the fact that sexual health promotion is sexual and domestic violence prevention, helped illuminate the role of violence in the issues on which these colleagues work, and shared numerous resources.  One thing was very clear: sexual and domestic violence prevention practitioners need to be at the sexual health table.  Fortunately, organizers of both conferences made sure we were there, and our sexual health promotion colleagues eagerly welcomed us.  In fact, at both events, people were so eager to talk to me that I barely had time for lunch!

Sexual health promotion practitioners are talking about issues like consent and healthy relationships, just as sexual violence prevention practitioners are talking about just what healthy sexuality looks like. I encourage you to think about where in your communities you could contribute to sexual health promotion work.  Already there?  Tell us about partnerships you’ve made in the comments section!

To learn more about sexual health promotion and to explore ways you can build partnerships, complete learn.preventconnect.org’s newest course, Introduction to Sexual Health.

Ashley Maier

More Posts by Ashley Maier

Ashley Maier, MSW, MPA, has worked in the movement to end gendered violence for well over a decade. She began as a volunteer at a domestic violence shelter in Illinois, served as a hospital-based advocate in St. Louis, coordinated community health/family violence training programs for pediatric residents in St. Louis and San Diego, and managed Oregon’s Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) grantees and program. Ashley is a contributing author to Lantern Book’s 2013 publication, Defiant Daughters: 21 Women on Art, Activism, Animals, and The Sexual Politics of Meat and is creator of the 2015 book, Circles of Compassion: Connecting Issues of Justice.

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