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Sexual health and relationship wellbeing

If you're sexually active, maintaining healthy sexual relationships contribute to a healthy body and mind. This section has information about managing your sexual wellbeing.

Healthy relationships

Everyone deserves to be in a safe and healthy relationship. Relationships may be defined in different ways depending on the community and cultural context you’re living in, but healthy relationships are all based on a few key elements: trust, open communication, mutual respect, and support for one another.

Healthy relationships don’t have to be perfect. You can still have disagreements and make mistakes, as long as you communicate with each other and are willing to listen your partner’s point of view.

All relationships exist on a spectrum from healthy to unhealthy, to abusive.

A healthy relationship is based on equality and respect

You make decisions together, compromise, and feel free to express your opinions and feelings. You receive physical affection while comfortably setting your boundaries, knowing that they will be respected. You feel listened to, supported and safe. You are happy to spend some time apart or have your own group of friends.

Key features: trust, communication, respect, support

An unhealthy relationship is based on dishonesty and pressure

One person puts pressure on the other to make things go their way and impose their point of view. They might criticise the other’s choice of friends, manner of dress, or attitude and make them feel responsible for their own insecurities. There is growing distrust and suspicion. One person constantly pushes against the other’s boundaries. You may do things that you don’t like just to make your partner happy.

Key features: gender stereotypes, social isolation, crossed boundaries, breaks in communication

An abusive relationship is based on power and control

One person makes all the decisions and controls what the other does, wears, buys, says, where they go or who they spend time with. They use threatening behaviour or language to force the other into submission. You spend all your time together and feel like you can’t maintain friendships or family relationships. The abuser will make the victim doubt their self-worth and deny hurting them. Sexual violence is used to exert control and power over the other person in the relationship.

Key features: blame, manipulation, coercion, sexual violence

Is your relationship healthy?

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Romantic relationships may look different depending on who is involved. While abuse can affect anyone and take many forms, the ways in which it impacts you are determined by your personal circumstances.

Prejudice, physical disabilities, social isolation, cultural beliefs, lack of information or financial resources can be fertile ground for abuse or create additional barriers when seeking help.

It is often assumed that relationship abuse means physical abuse but that’s not always the case. It is a pattern of behaviours used to gain or maintain power and control over someone, it can be physical, verbal, emotional or sexual.

No one deserves to experience abuse. If you recognise any of these warning signs in your relationship, reach out for help.

Safe sex: consent and contraception

Sex can be an important part of your relationship as long as it is consensual. You should always feel comfortable setting your own boundaries and expect them to be respected.

Discussing STI and contraception is an integral part of consent.

Sexual consent is when you and your sexual partner both agree to have sex, and you should be clear on this before starting anything. You should remember:

  • You are not obligated to have sex, even if you are in a relationship.
  • Sexual consent must be explicit - this means the only way to know for sure that you both consent is for you to say so. Don't assume.
  • You can always change your mind, slow things down or stop at any time.
  • Consent is specific – it must be sought every time and for each sexual act.
  • Alcohol and drugs affect consent. If you or your sexual partner are intoxicated, neither of you can give consent.

Consent - it's simple as tea (YouTube)

To learn about all the different types of contraception available in New Zealand, check out the Family Planning website or come and have a chat to the AUT Student Medical Centre team.

Where to get free condoms on campus

All students can get free condoms on campus. Here’s where to find them:

  • AUT Student Medical Centre waiting rooms - WB219, AX100 and MB109
  • Rainbow Room - Level 1, WB Building
  • AUTSA - WC210, AS133 and ME109
  • Student Counselling and Mental Health - WB, AX and MB Buildings
  • Māori Student Support - Level 2, WB Building

How to take care of your sexual health

1 in 5 sexually active people have some form of sexually transmitted infection (STI). STIs are really common, many don’t have symptoms, but they can have very serious consequences if left untreated. That’s why we recommend you get an STI check at least once a year if:

  • You’re sexually active
  • You change sexual partners
  • You have unprotected sex or your condom breaks

STI testing is confidential and often quick and easy, involving a simple urine test or swab. Most STIs are easy to treat if they are diagnosed early.

If you're an enrolled domestic student AUT Student Medical Centre, you can get four free sexual health screenings per year.

Visit AUT Student Medical Centre for:

  • Maternity care and pregnancy testing
  • Sexual health screening and treatment
  • Contraception information
  • Free condoms
  • HPV vaccine (free for all domestic students aged 26 and under)

AUT Student Medical Centre services

Family Planning clinics

If you're under 22, you can get free STI testing at Family Planning clinics. If you don't have symptoms, you may also be ablet to get an STI test without an appointment, by choosing to do self-testing (you take your own samples in the clinic bathroom).

Find your nearest Family Planning clinic

Auckland Sexual Health Regional Services

Free and confidential sexual health care including:

  • diagnosis and management of sexually transmitted infections
  • gender-affirming health care
  • specialist medical care for adults who have been sexually assaulted or abused.

Find your nearest Sexual Health clinic
0800 739 432

Body Positive (Free rapid HIV and syphilis testing)

Body Positive website
0800 448 5463

Being an active bystander: witnessing sexual harm or harassment

Everyone has a role to play in preventing sexual harm on and off campus. If you see someone being harmed, it can be hard to speak up if you're the only one doing it. However we all have a responsibility to prevent harm and harassment and to keep our communities safe.

Report sexual harm or harassment at AUT

Here are some ways you can help:

  • Tune into what’s happening around you
  • Notice if something seems off and requires someone to step in
  • Decide to take action. For example: 
    • Ask the victim if they are okay or if they want to leave, and help them get home safely
    • Address the problem by telling the person that they are acting inappropriately and need to stop
    • Distract the person who is being inappropriate
    • Let someone know what is going on and ask for help. Ask a friend, a residential advisor, or security. Call the police on 111 if the situation seems unsafe
    • If it’s too dangerous to intervene in the moment, wait for the situation to pass and check in with the victim after. You can also report an incident to the police
  • Look after yourself. If you witness sexual violence or someone discloses an incident to you, it can be distressing, especially if it involves people that you know.

Counselling and mental health support at AUT

Got feedback?

We'd love to hear your feedback. Let us know:

  • Are the resources useful?
  • What could we do to make it better?
  • Are there any wellbeing events you would like to see happen on campus?

Email us: studentwellbeing@aut.ac.nz

Test your knowledge

Try our truths and myths quiz to test your knowledge about sexual health.

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