In the United States April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).

The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities on how to prevent it. Sexual violence is a major public health, human rights and social justice issue. We need everyone’s help to end it.

At Planned Parenthood, our staff, volunteers, activists, and supporters are working to help prevent sexual assault, provide support for survivors, and advocate for better prevention and response policies. Freedom from sexual violence is key to reaching full reproductive and sexual freedom for everyone, no matter who they are or where they live.  This Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Planned Parenthood is asking you tell your elected officials to stand with Planned Parenthood, so that sexual assault survivors can continue to depend on us as a safe place.

Here are a couple things that you can do if you want to join the fight against Sexual Assault:

As the nation’s largest provider of sex education, Planned Parenthood understands that consent education is sexual assault prevention. Open, honest communication between partners is necessary to ensure that sex is safe and mutually consensual, which is a skill that can be learned. To that end, Planned Parenthood developed a series of 4 videos about consent. You can watch the videos below!

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, you can click here for information on your local sexual assault crisis center.

GYT: Get Yourself Tested Campaign

The GYT: Get Yourself TestedExternal Web Site Policy campaign is a youthful, empowering social movement to encourage young people to get tested and treated, as needed, for STDs and HIV. The campaign is a partnership between the American College Health Association, Kaiser Family Foundation, National Coalition of STD Directors, MTV, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

GYT increases awareness about STIs and how to prevent them, links young people to STI testing services, and promotes a more open dialogue with partners and health care providers. After all, sexually active young people account for half of the 20 million new STIs occurring in the U.S. each year – and most don’t know they are infected.

Everyone deserves a sex life that is safe and healthy as well as pleasurable and fun. Open and honest communication about each person’s needs, wants, and boundaries is an essential skill when it comes to having healthy sex and healthy relationships. The good news is that this skill can be learned. Planned Parenthood wants young people to have the tools they need to stay safe and healthy. As the nation’s largest provider of sex education, Planned Parenthood reaches 1.5 million people a year with education programs and outreach — and an important part of this work is helping young people have safer sex, get tested for STIs, and talk about STI prevention with their partner.

In case you’re thinking that a conversation about STIs could be a mood-killer, recent research shows differently. Looking out for your health and that of your partner doesn’t mean that sex won’t be sexy and fun. Rather, it can help build trust and intimacy, which can help make sex more enjoyable and stress-free. One survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that most young people would be glad a test was suggested (78 percent) and that it reflects their partner being responsible (89 percent).

The sad truth is that as young people, we don’t have many examples of what a healthy conversation about STIs looks like. In sex scenes in movies and television, partners often get busy without talking about STIs or using protection. And these encounters often don’t reflect the diverse identities and experiences of young people.

To help you start this conversation, and for helpful tips and tricks, you can watch the videos below:

The bottom line is that nothing about sex should be uncomfortable; including conversations about STIs. Nobody should be pressured, coerced, or manipulated in any sexual situation. And no one should be shamed, harassed, or judged because they have an STD or because they want to use protection. Stigma is about fear, and fear discourages honesty. If we can’t talk honestly about STIs, we’re not going to be able to prevent them. Planned Parenthood believes that all people have the right to be treated with respect by their partners, including protecting each other’s health by talking about STIs.

Resources:

https://npin.cdc.gov/stdawareness/gyt.aspx

http://www.nsvrc.org/

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