Reproductive healthcare for survivors of sexual assault

Did you know 1 in 6 women in the United States have been a victim of sexual assault? The number is both heartbreaking and staggering. Chances are, you or someone you love has experienced sexual violence.

At carafem, we understand that it can be difficult to seek medical attention following a traumatic event, so our clinicians are trained to work with survivors to ensure as much comfort as possible. Being able to offer a safe space and personalized, non-judgmental care to fit our clients’ needs is our biggest priority.

Besides providing top-quality, welcoming care and confidential one-on-one time with our clinicians, carafem also offers “pants-on” birth control methods — like oral contraceptive pills, Depo-Provera shots and the arm implant — which don’t require a pelvic exam to receive, so our clients can choose the option that works best for them. We also offer the abortion pill, which some prefer as a less invasive, user-controlled option versus the in-office procedure.

Understanding consent

While we’re on the topic of sexual assault, we want to take the opportunity to talk about consent. We know that understanding consent can be tricky, and that definitions of consent can vary by state — making it even more confusing.

You may have heard the sayings “yes means yes” or “no means no” in conversations about consent. In reality, there are different ways to express “yes” or “no,” and a lot consent comes down to communication. We looked to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) to understand how consent can look in the real world:

“When you’re engaging in sexual activity, consent is about communication. And it should happen every time. Giving consent for one activity, one time, does not mean giving consent for increased or recurring sexual contact. For example, agreeing to kiss someone doesn’t give that person permission to remove your clothes. Having sex with someone in the past doesn’t give that person permission to have sex with you again in the future.”

In the same vein, there are many ways to say “no.” If your partner is hesitating, seems unsure or simply says they don’t want to participate in a certain activity, they have not given their consent. The same goes for people who are sleeping, underage, or unconscious — they legally cannot give consent.

RAINN also explains that working consent into your sexual encounters can be sexy, and provide some great tips on ways to ask for consent without spoiling the mood:

  • Communicating when you change the type or degree of sexual activity with phrases like “Is this OK?”
  • Explicitly agreeing to certain activities, either by saying “yes” or another affirmative statement, like “I’m open to trying.”
  • Using physical cues to let the other person know you’re comfortable taking things to the next level

Understanding consent can be fun, too. We love this video that uses the act of offering someone tea as a simple analogy for sex.



Teaching consent can also start from a very young age. While it might seem awkward to talk to kids about consent, the conversation can be framed from a totally non-sexual standpoint: Your body is your body; your friend’s body is theirs. If they don’t want to hug you, that’s okay! If you don’t want to hug your uncle or kiss your grandma, that’s okay, too! Teaching kids bodily autonomy and respect for others’ boundaries — as well as respecting their boundaries when they say no — is a huge part of understanding consent and maintaining healthy relationships as they grow.

This handy video, from the makers of the tea video above, helps explain consent to kids.



Looking for more info about consent and sexual assault? Check out RAINN’s website. Have you been assaulted (or think you may have been assaulted) and need someone to talk to? RAINN offers supportive, nonjudgmental, 24/7 live chat support on their website; as well as phone support at 800-656-HOPE.

And if you’re looking for compassionate birth control or abortion care you can trust, give us a call any time at 1-855-SAY-CARA to make an appointment at our health center. We’re here for you — because you matter.