What we Talk About and Why
McKenzie has been through some difficult stuff – and survived. In this video McKenzie talks about experiencing sexual abuse, telling someone about it, finding a support group, and eventually feeling brave enough to try dating. McKenzie has good advice to share about boundaries, pleasure, and sticking up for yourself.
Consent is the foundation of healthy partnered sexuality. Knowing that everyone is an enthusiastic, informed, freely-given ‘yes’ to a sexual activity before it happens is mandatory.
Adults with cognitive disabilities often get told what to do – by staff or families or even by strangers like medical specialists they only meet once. They may be punished if they don’t comply. When this happens, they learn that it’s not important whether or not they consent to something. They have to do what they’re told.
Given these experiences, consent is a concept that needs to be talked about a lot and reinforced so that people know how to ask for it in sexual situations, and know how to give it or to NOT give it.
It’s also valuable for staff and families to think about how we can model consent in our daily interactions with the people we support so that they are not getting mixed messages from us. (eg “No always means no… except when I’m telling you to eat your broccoli.”)
Many people we support are interested in meeting people for friendship and dating. They may have limited opportunities to socialize, and limited information about where & when people tend to meet and mingle. This sometimes leads to things like asking strangers on the bus out on a date. They may have little context for how relationships progress and change. This sometimes leads to things like planning a wedding right after getting someone’s phone number.
In our videos, people of all abilities discuss where they met their partners, and how their relationships progressed over time. This gives a bit more nuanced information about dating than we get to see in a typical TV sitcom or romantic comedy film.