Domestic violence awareness month tackles consent, health

By Soleil Cardenas

Sexual consent and proper sexual-health habits are key to partners having a healthy and positive experiences when engaging in any form of intimacy. 

The East Los Angeles Women’s Center explained various reproductive and health rights, consent and sexually transmitted disease screening and care during a workshop for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The ELAWC partnered with the Student Health Center for the workshop last week.   

Students attending the workshop discussed sexual health ideas last Thursday, to learn about sexual wisdom from Lizette Villanueva, an HIV Health Educator. 

The ELAWC said ensuring student safety and providing students with any resources need is their goal. 

With 24 participants on the Zoom, one of the most attended Zoom events for DV Awareness Month, Villanueva said she wanted those in attendance to share what they have learned about it in the past.

 Villanueva said sexual health is a mixture of physical, emtional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexualtity.

 Villanueva said that sexual health is also being safe and having pleasurable experiences that do not involve coercion, discrimnation and violence. 

“Sexual health is to be pleasurable to everybody present,” Villanueva said. 

Villanueva said each person has the right to do what they want to do sexually and reproductively. She said each person has their own individual rights to their body.

Students have rights to have a sexual relationship and they also have the right to abstain from sexual activities. Students also have a right to sexual education. 

Villanueva said she was scarred by her experiences with sexuality in her younger years. She said a video of a woman giving birth was traumatizing. A health instructor she had would tell students to just never have sex, impacting her views on sex. 

Instead of moments like these educating her in the safe practice of sex and consent, it did the opposite,” Villanueva said many students possibly have similar scarring experiences, which is upsetting. 

“I don’t know how many of you grew up in an environment where you were told as a child or imposed on us that once were married we have to have sex with our partners all the time or whenever they want,” Villanueva said. 

She said this thought process is incorrect. Villanueva said it’s more important to practice safe sex with partners students choose themselves. 

 “One of the main ways to prevent any sexually transmitted infection and HIV would be to use condoms. Condoms are not being used as much as they used to because condoms were primarily used to prevent pregnancy,” Villanueva said. 

With many new birth control options on the market the use of condoms decreases. 

Villanueva said condom use is not just a contraceptive and that its use also protects both partners from sexual transmitted diseases like HIV. 

ELAWC has condoms and lubricant available to students and can  set students up with a sexual health care package when asked. 

Villnueva said one of the most important things to consider when thinking about sexual activity is the matter of consent from all individuals involved. 

Consent is an agreement between individuals before engaging in sexual activity. Consent makes participants feel comfortable and is all about communication between partners. 

Villnueva said students should have these difficult conversations with their partners as it can take away some worry when engaging in sexual activites and allow both partners to enjoy it more. 

Consent shows respect for both partners. It shows a respect for what either partner wants to do or what they don’t want to do. 

“People think consent takes pleasure out of having sex, when you can have both. Consent doesn’t take away, it makes it more enjoyable,” Villanueva said. 

Villanueva said that although people may have originally given consent it is always okay to change person’s mind.

 Villanueva emphasized the importance of getting screened for STDs and HIV. This is important for people who are sexually active because of getting screened is a healthy option.

 Villanueva said that HIV/AIDS can be transmitted through body fluids, blood, semen, vaginal fluids etc., body openings,anus, vagina, mouth, and activities unprotected sex, needle sharing, pregnancy.

 There are ways of mitigating the risk of transferring HIV. One way is using Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) a new medication that is taken daily. It helps reduce the risk of getting HIV. ​

The ELAWC wants to maintain their connection with the students in their community. 

Villanueva said students can  contact the center for anything they may need and  set up a free one-on-one session with a therapist.

 ELAWC also urges students to take part in their 25th annual Mujeres de Paz event. 

It will take place at  ELAC on Oct. 27 at 6 p.m. The walk is a candlelight vigil to stand against domestic violence. 

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