Providing Approachable Support – Intro
An intro to Real Talk’s series of videos on providing better sexual health support. This series is specifically aimed at families, friends, and staff supporters of people with cognitive disabilities. Our goal is to help people feel more confident and comfortable having conversations with people with cognitive disabilities on topics to do with dating, love, relationships, and sex.
As supporters, we often have questions: Is this stuff even relevant to the person I support? Should I bring it up if they haven’t? What if I say the wrong thing? What if someone else in their support network sees things differently? This series addresses these thorny issues head-on.
We offer free staff training to community living organizations in Metro Vancouver. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Find reliable sexual health info, tips on how to talk about this stuff, classroom-based educators, and one-to-one supports at our Resources for Supporters.
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Why We Talk About…
The Role of Supporters
Family members, friends, and staff all have a role to play in providing sexual health support for people with cognitive disabilities. How we show up for people can make things easier for them, or much harder.
In a 2017, a research team in the UK interviewed people with cognitive disabilities about their experience with romantic relationships, dating, marriage etc. Every single person interviewed who was in a romantic relationship of some sort could point to specific ways their support network had helped them find and / or maintain that relationship. Likewise, people interviewed who were frustrated at not finding a relationship often pointed to ways in which people in their support network had stood in their way.
As well, studies around the world show that people with cognitive disabilities are at increased risk of experiencing sexual abuse. Having a person or people in their lives with whom they can have frank conversations about sexual health topics is a key factor in reducing their risk of abuse.
While it may not be easy or comfortable to engage with folks we support around these topics, the benefits can be profound. And the good news is, we don’t have to be perfect at this – or even feel confident at this – to make a big difference.
Want to be in a Real Talk video shoot?
We’re always looking for participants to be part of our next video shoot, where folks have conversations on dating, love, relationships and sex.