When I was 14, I was molested by a guy I knew in High School. There was a period of time where I was coerced into thinking it was love because right after that traumatic event, he told me he loved me. Unfortunately, I got into that situation by him making me feel badly towards him if I didn't see him after a rehearsal one day. I felt guilty enough that I met up with him and the rest is history.
When our society talks about rape culture, we commonly forget to acknowledge the ways in which someone may have gotten into this situation. In NO WAY is it ever the victim's fault. There are more situations than just "wrong place, wrong time" that a victim of rape can be in and this starts the discussion of what happened to me: sexual coercion.
What is Sexual Coercion?
Sexual Coercion is "unwanted sexual activity that happens after being pressured in nonphysical ways that include:
- Being worn down by someone who repeatedly asks for sex
- Being lied to or being promised things that weren't true to trick you into having sex
- Having someone threaten to end a relationship or spread rumors about you if you don't have sex with them
- Having an authority figure, like a boss, property manager, loan officer, or professor, use their influence or authority to pressure you into having sex
In a healthy relationship, you never have to have sexual contact when you don't want to. Sexual contact without your consent is assault. Sexual coercion means feeling forced to have sexual contact with someone."
When answering the question of what it is, I wanted to do some research to include for awareness because I believe this happens to too many people and barely anyone is talking about it. Here's an interesting chart that I found on https://www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-saf...:
Examples of sexual coercion
Ways someone might use sexual coercion
What he or she may say
Wearing you down by asking for sex again and again or making you feel bad, guilty, or obligated
Making you feel like it's too late to say no
Telling you that not having sex will hurt your relationship
Lying or threatening to spread rumors about you
Making promises to reward you for sex
Threatening your children or other family members
Threatening your job, home, or school career
Threatening to reveal your sexual orientation publicly or to family or friends
In the age of Harvey Weinstein and countless others, I want victims of this kind of mistreatment to know they are not alone and that just because you may have had a conversation with your partner about sex, does not give them the right to take it as a yes from you. Yes means yes and no means no. There should be no loopholes around it, otherwise, you are coercing someone into an activity that they may not want to endure. Verbal consent is the most valuable thing a person can give and without it, it is assault.