We read a study that totally shocked us. Almost to the point of disbelief. Out of a survey of 13,000 women, a stunning finding found that: 1 and 16 women are coerced into their first sexual experience and later experience sexual health problems. This study:
- Was taken from Cambridge Health Alliance
- Had surveyed women ages 18 to 44
- Took place before the #MeToo Movement
- Has an average age of most women coerced at age 15, with their partner’s average age of 27. That’s a 12-year age gap!
- Said that “the strongest health links were to conditions of chronic pelvic pain” according to Dr. Laura Hawks, lead researcher for the study.
For Young Women Everywhere
We’ll keep this brief: We can talk about young love and hormones which no doubt play a large part in your first sexual experience. Many adults try to downplay this powerful emotional experience to you, which can feel degrading or disrespectful. We should know as our parents made us feel the same way with these types of talks. If you’re in a relationship, then you may see signs of the following:
Signs of a Healthy and Unhealthy Relationship
We pulled some relationship signs from the University of Washington’s “Healthy VS Unhealthy Relationships” in a list down below.
Healthy: You can discuss everything openly, without judgement or criticism. On the flip side, you allow each other privacy.
Unhealthy: You feel like you can’t share a conversation or certain topics without criticism or fear. You or your partner may have a lack of privacy and are forced to share everything with each other.
Healthy: You are still you in the relationship. You don’t feel like you’ve lost yourself or are defined by your relationship. You and your partner are your own people separate from your relationship.
Unhealthy: You look in the mirror and you don’t recognize yourself as the person you once were. You find that your relationship is a major part of your life and identity which bothers you.
Healthy: You’re genuinely happy in your relationship. You may have your ups and downs, but there’s more positives than negatives.
Unhealthy: You may find yourself convincing or talking yourself into being happy in your relationship. You may have your ups and downs, but you’re recognizing more negatives than positives.
Healthy: You have a strong sense of trust between you. You share the same values and life goals without trying to persuade the other to change.
Unhealthy: You don’t have much trust in your partner, or at all. Perhaps you have similar values and life goals, but you try to convince one another to be “more like them.” Or you don’t share the same values or life goals at all.
Healthy: They respect your wishes and don’t push you to do something you’re not comfortable with. There’s sexual boundaries and you both can freely speak on those and follow through with them.
Unhealthy: They constantly overlook or disregard your wishes. They may even push you to say or do things you’re not okay with. Worst of all, they don’t respect your sexual boundaries.
Perhaps you and your partner don’t have all of these problems listed above–maybe you have just one! That may not mean you’re in a “toxic” relationship per say, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with it. Find time and safe space* to communicate about how your feeling and why. Then together work on correcting your issues so you can have a better, healthier relationship. However, should it not get better, through best intentions or not, you’ll need to consider that this relationship may not work for you.
Here are more sources for you to come to your own conclusions about your relationship, links are raw so you know what you’re clicking on:
Lastly, we implore you to value yourself and your body. Trust your instincts and that gut feeling telling you what feels right and what feels wrong. Remember: you are not stuck with someone for the rest of your life. You do not owe anyone anything, ever. Life is not about repaying debts or settling for what works now. You are not alone. We are here for you!
*NOTE: if you do not feel safe talking to your partner about your relationship issues, this is a major red flag. Please talk to trusted friends and family, take steps to protect yourself and potentially exit the relationship. If you do not have people you can trust, you can visit https://www.thehotline.org/ for guidance and resources or call their advocates 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).