What Is Sexual Coercion? And Why You Should Be Informed

Sexual coercion is defined as “the act of using pressure, alcohol or drugs, or force to have sexual contact with someone against his or her will; … tactics of post refusal sexual persistence [used are] defined as persistent attempts to have sexual contact with someone who has already refused.” The difference between sexual coercion and other acts on the sexual aggression continuum is that sexual coercion is more subtle manipulation, like the use of pressure, trickery, or emotional force to get someone to agree to sex.

Some common examples of sexual coercion are:

  • Being guilted in to performing a sexual act
  • Being threatened to perform a sexual act
  • Being pressured into drinking before a sexual encounter
  • If your partner holds you down or hurts you during sex, without consent
  • Performing a sexual act that your partner has deemed your duty
  • Performing a sexual act to prevent angering your partner

These examples mentioned above are just a few ways sexual coercion can occur, they are by any means not the only ways. Ultimately, a major sign of sexual coercion is if you say yes to a sexual act, that you really did not want to perform.

Ultimately, a major sign of sexual coercion is if you say yes to a sexual act, that you really did not want to perform.

Some states like California have made great strides in defining sexual assault, by passing the ‘Yes means yes’ law. The new law is more specific and less ambiguous than the common “no means no” standard, requiring an “affirmative consent” and stating that consent can’t be given if someone is asleep or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.” The law also states that consent can be taken away at any time during a secular encounter. 

However, It is still very important to be aware of sexual coercion because it is commonly looked over and deemed normal. Sexual coercion can vary from pure manipulation to being considered rape. Victims, like any of those who have experienced sexual assault or violence can suffer from anxiety, depression, and PTSD.  Coercion most commonly takes place “with college students [more] than any other cohort” and that “approximately 70% of college students surveyed reported they have been sexually coerced and 33% of college students surveyed admitted to having used sexually coercive behaviors against their partners.” While startling, this statistic shows that sexual coercion is very prevalent in today’s society, but is not commonly talked about or acknowledged.

To anyone who has experienced sexual coercion of anyway, I’m sorry this has happened to you, it is not your fault, and you are most definitely not alone.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224 for confidential support.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

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