Masie*  recently visited our clinic for STI (sexually transmitted infection) testing.  She brought a friend for moral support.  Sharing with a stranger that she feared having an infection because her boyfriend had been unfaithful was hard for Masie to face alone.

As a teenager, a free clinic was just what Masie needed. When she made her appointment, she probably didn’t have high expectations. She hoped to get access to the appropriate tests and treatment, and that the overall experience wouldn’t be “too bad.”  But as she looked around our clean, modern clinic, she began to relax. And within a few minutes, our nurse had put Masie completely at ease.

As a part of every clinic visit for STI testing, our nurses provide education about the risks and how to avoid an unwanted pregnancy or STI. Masie was surprised to learn that each one of her boyfriends’ past partners are actually putting her at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.

“I can’t believe I’ve been at that much risk,” she said.

“Masie, do you feel confident enough to say no if you are asked to have sex?” we asked.

“Well, I did that, and my boyfriend broke up with me. He told me I had to have sex with him. If I was going to be his girlfriend, he expected me to meet his sexual needs.”

“What about your needs, Masie?” the nurse asked, “Is he meeting all of your needs?  If you want to wait to be in a committed relationship, then shouldn’t your desires also be met?”

Masie was wide-eyed.  Her friend laughed aloud. “I wish I had heard this last week,” she said, “I could have used this information! My friends need to know this, too.”

Our nurse reminded them that their goals and desires were important.  Their dreams were worthy of respect.  If having sex interfered with their long-term plans, then they should have the confidence to say, “No, this isn’t right for me.  If you can’t respect that, you are not respecting me.”

Both of these teens received more than just good medical care at their visit.  They left with the tools and words that would empower them to gain the respect they deserved as women with physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Thank you for providing compassionate and empowering care to every woman who walks through our clinic doors.

*name changed