There is a truly excellent article by Lynn Harris up right now at Alternet called When Partner Abuse Isn’t a Bruise But a Pregnant Belly. It’s about the way that intimate partner violence often takes the form of rape and other sexual coercion, and the dangerous implications of a failure to recognize as much.
I strongly recommend that you go and read it, because this is a major problem in our movements. So often, people supporting access to sex education and contraception also support measures to reduce intimate partner violence, and vice versa. But far too regularly, we also fail to tie those two movements together, and the connection is dangerously overlooked in many if not most pregnancy prevention efforts and intimate partner violence prevention efforts.
It’s a part of the reason why I so strongly feel and regularly advocate that anti-rape education needs to be a part of sexual health education. Of course, sexual violence is a sexual health issue. But from a strictly practical level, you can’t teach kids how to use condoms and expect that to be enough to prevent pregnancy and STDs on the whole. The current model, the way in which we teach teens (and adults!) how to use condoms and other contraception, almost always supposes that consensual sex makes up for all of the STDs and pregnancies they’re attempting to prevent. And it just plain doesn’t, as much as we wish it did.
And so we need to treat education about abuse — both proven programs that reduce the rates of abuse, but also lessons in how to identify and recognize abuse and to get help when it occurs — not as some kind of bonus aspect of sex education, or something to do if we can fit it in past the really important pregnancy prevention stuff. Rather, it’s necessary and integral part of sex education, just as much as condom use and the rest.
It’s something we need to address it in classrooms. And we also, as the article quite clearly proves, need to make sure to get the message out to doctors and nurses, as well. Otherwise, we’re only going to spend too much time poorly attempting to treat the symptoms of the problem rather than the problem itself. We’re going to keep on using tactics that in too many cases, just aren’t going to work.
Thanks to KaeLyn for the link.