Project Connect: Unplanned Pregnancy Through a Domestic Violence Lens

Last week, I wrote about reproductive coercion and the impact it has on women’s health. I mentioned that knowing about this issue can change the way we approach STD and pregnancy prevention work. As promised, here’s a follow-up article about Project Connect: A Coordinated Public Health Initiative to Prevent Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Project Connect has lots of moving parts and I think all of them are terribly exciting.  For me, the most wonderful thing about this project is the way it approaches domestic and sexual violence as reproductive health issues.  The best way to explain what I mean is to give you a couple of scenarios. Continue reading

Unplanned Pregnancy & Domestic Violence: Exploring the Connection

With each passing month I work at the FPA, I gain new knowledge of and insights into the lives of women and teen girls. My learning for this month is related to the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault. I am not a stranger to these two facts of life. In my previous work experience, I had many opportunities to work closely with the people and agencies dealing directly with women impacted by both.

I recently met with FPA staff member Kini Tinkham who serves as Program Director of Project Connect. And, as often happens, I learned way more than I expected to.

Project Connect is an FPA-led collaboration of providers and advocates from domestic violence and sexual assault organizations, family planning and school-based health centers, and minority organizations. Now in its third year, Project Connect continues to focus on the goal of creating a coordinated community response to domestic violence and sexual assault, including reproductive coercion.

Here’s where my learning curve banked steeply upward. Reproductive coercion? I knew what the words meant but I didn’t have a full understanding of the scope of the problem and its impact on women’s health. This seemed like a topic worth sharing with our readers. I hope you agree. Continue reading

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month — What’s Your Prevention Strategy?

Last year I reached a major life marker in the form of my 50th birthday. Now – a full year into my fifties – I’m noticing bodily changes and limitations I didn’t have in my thirties and forties. And, reaching the age of fifty made me really and truly face the fact that I’m not going to live forever… who knew?!

And here’s a fact I now have to face — for the average woman living in the U.S. the odds of getting breast cancer increase significantly once she enters her fifties. It’s not something I dwell on but when Breast Cancer Awareness Month rolls around, I pay more attention to prevention messages than I did as a younger woman.

I’ve been reading the American Cancer Society website and I thought I’d pass some information along to our readers. Keep in mind that this isn’t a substitute for medical advice from a licensed practitioner. I’m just sharing some information in hopes that it helps you stay healthy. Continue reading

Why Did You Stop Going to Family Planning?

“I went to family planning when I was a teenager.”

I can’t even tell you how many times and in how many different settings I’ve heard this phrase. There’s the woman who cuts my hair, the physical therapist who helped repair my sore ankle, the dental hygienist who cleans my teeth, and the high school classmate I saw at our reunion.

When I tell them where I work, women love to tell me how important family planning was to them when they were teenagers. Depending on the situation and how well I know the person, I may ask “Why don’t you go to family planning now?”

That’s when I get the look. You know the look — the one that suggests you just said something really, really dumb.

The answers I get, although unique to each woman, are always based on two common assumptions about family planning — two common and false assumptions. Continue reading