This booklet offers information on how sexual abuse or assault can affect ongoing reproductive and sexual health. For example, survivors may be triggered by many aspects of the medical care setting, and particularly the reproductive health care setting - therefore, they may become very upset or they may avoid even routine health care. Survivors may not identify reproductive or sexual coercion by an intimate partner as abuse, and even consensual sexual experiences may trigger flashbacks. Trust may be severely impaired and this can affect both intimate relationships and relationships with service providers such as medical clinicians.
Advocates play an integral role in helping survivors identify and address these concerns. This booklet includes strategies for advocates and shares tips and tools for how advocates can address the long-term health care needs of survivors. Strategies include integrating information about reproductive and sexual health into support groups and outreach programming and working with parents to help them promote healthy sexuality and reproductive health. As advocates we can build strong partnerships and provide supported referrals to survivors by getting to know a variety of practitioners, engage in cross-training to learn what they can and can’t offer (and to help them understand what you can offer to survivors), helping survivors with navigating service systems and making connections to other service providers, and by thinking “outside the box” in regards to who we connect with. Doulas, midwives, massage therapists, lactation consultants, childbirth educators, school personnel, child support prosecutors, Planned Parenthood, public and school health, campus health centers, behavioral health providers, and others can be an important component of your referral list.