Ever hear that old Tina Turner song “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” and think about some previous relationship? There’s a similar phrase that can be set to the same music that I used as the title to this week’s post. As far as relationships are concerned non-exploitation has everything to do with relationships that have anything to do with sexual health. If you’ve ever struggled with an abusive relationship you were in, you’ve also struggled with the sexual health principle of non-exploitation.
How Bad of an Issue is Exploitation in Relationships?
All the recent publicity about sexual harassment closely resembles what is at the heart of exploitation. The difference has more to do with what keeps a relationship going as opposed to what gets it started. People who become involved sexually with others without getting permission are violating the key sexual health value of consent, which I discussed in a previous blog post; people who exploit others are already in relationships, but disregard their partner’s rights, needs, and wants in favor of their own. Have you ever been with someone who just didn’t seem to care what you wanted and ran roughshod over you when you told them what you wanted? If so, that is what is at the heart of the experience of exploitation. It runs the gamut from getting a partner involved in debasing sexual practices against their wishes to just plain using them for sexual gratification without any thought of reciprocating.
The Path to Non-Exploitation
What does it take to start acting on the principle of non-exploitation? It starts with being willing to set boundaries that others can’t cross. If you know what it is you are and are not okay with, then being willing to actually say “No” to something that isn’t okay with you is the starting point. If you start having an ‘icky’ feeling when you’re with your partner, then the thing to do is to say so. If it only leads to nothing more than a discussion of what you don’t like, then that may be enough to stop exploitation. Non-exploitation is all about you having boundaries for sexuality that others aren’t allowed to cross. Figuring those out can be a challenge, but with the right help and support you can put them in place. It all starts with knowing how you feel about certain things, then being willing to say something about it. By the way, the principles of sexual health have been distilled from the World Health Organization (WHO) and by Douglas Braun Harvey and Michael Vigorito in one or more of their books.
Where I Can Help
Having someone to talk about what you’re uncomfortable with is important in making changes. It’s not necessarily about whether you with the right person or not; if you just have a history of being taken advantage of in relationships it can be important to get perspective on this and to plan in advance to keep it from happening again. Some folks don’t have a sense of their own worth and importance to know they have a right to speak up to keep from being exploited. If that’s the case with you, then working on issues of self-esteem and self-worth can be something I can help with to give you the courage to set some boundaries and finally start getting the respect you deserve. All the love in the world from your partner won’t help if they won’t give you the respect that keeps them from exploiting you. I encourage you to give me a call at 512-374-0100, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out the form below to find out how I can help you in attaining greater inner strength and sexual health in relation to the principle of non-exploitation and other principles of sexual health.
About the author: Scott Kampschaefer, LCSW is a private practice therapist in Austin, Texas. He has an extensive background in working with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder at a clinic for older adults with these disorders in Austin. He now works with adults and adolescents of all ages in private practice.
Click here to learn more about how Scott can help you with sex addiction.