Content warning: Sexual assault
Many of us know what sexual assault is. Rape, unwanted sexual advancements, or harassment. Basically, when you say no and someone else doesn't listen. But what about sexual coercion? What about when you have to "convince" someone to have sex with you, even after they've said no? Does that count as assault, in your opinion? Or do they deserve what happened to them because they, ultimately, said yes?
If you're someone who answered with the latter, then you are part of the problem.
According to womenshealth.org, sexual coercion is "unwanted sexual activity that happens when you are pressured, tricked, threatened, or forced in a nonphysical way." And it is a very real thing that happens to many unsuspecting men and women. It is often the most overlooked form of sexual assault. It can happen with friends, partners, co-workers -- literally anyone -- and it can be just as conflicting as any other form of sexual assault. It can happen to anyone. It's even happened to me.
I was young and very naive, and this person was someone I considered my best friend. He made me feel great about myself...until he didn't anymore. I remember telling him no to sex quite a few times, and every time he shot back with a different excuse. "Why should we have to wait?" "If you really liked me you would do this for me." Eventually, after a long back-and-forth, I felt guilty and like a complete tease, so I gave in. For a while, I blamed myself. Now, I know better.
Sexual coercion isn't sex. It is assault. It is rape. Listen when your partner says no. Listen when your partner tells you they don't want to. Even if you've had sex before, it doesn't give you the right to do what you want anyway. Don't be a part of the problem. Help to fix the problem.
And if you've been in my position, don't beat yourself up or blame yourself. None of what you did was your fault. You are not weak. You are not at fault. You are strong, and you will get through this.