Healthy Sexuality

Sexual violence prevention increasingly focuses on healthy sexuality as a core prevention message. Sexual violence often occurs as a result of unhealthy sexual norms in our culture: harmful gender norms, sexual objectification, the presence of coercive sexual behaviors in media and social settings, and a general acceptance – and even expectation – of sexual violence. All of these are known risk factors for the perpetration of sexual violence. Many of the messages of healthy sexuality – such as knowledge of and comfort with the sexuality and gender expression of one’s self and of others, recognizing and respecting consent – may be protective factors against sexual violence, and may help to shape new messages and cultural norms about sexuality and sexual violence.

Concepts related to healthy sexuality can play an important role in sexual violence prevention education across the lifespan. Additionally, healthy sexuality can be integrated into the healing process for survivors of sexual violence, as a way for survivors to enhance their own sense of control of their bodies and sexuality.

Healthy sexuality is emotional, social, cultural, and physical, yet it has not often been addressed openly and honestly within the cultural dialogue. Increasingly, new resources are developed and efforts are made at changing this norm. And as our culture makes strides toward effectively addressing healthy sexuality, we build the foundation for creating a safe and violence-free world.

Learn More:

National Sexual Violence Resource Center Healthy Sexuality Resources

This collection has numerous fact sheets, bibliographies, and other resources relating to sexual violence and healthy sexuality, including a guide for advocates, counselors, and prevention educators, as well as adolescent sexual development and healthy sexuality through the lifespan.

Healthy Sexuality for Sexual Violence Prevention

This report, published in 2011 by the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance, addresses the top curriculum-based healthy sexuality programs. Produced by Virginia’s Healthy Sexuality Workgroup, which is charged with finding links between primary sexual violence prevention and sexual health promotion, determining each field’s evidence base, and discussing how to best deliver the vital information offered by both fields to youth in Virginia.

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States

SIECUS provides education and information about sexuality and sexual and reproductive health. They also publish the national comprehensive sexuality education guidelines.