Sexual coercion is verbal or physical behaviour intended to influence the decisions you as a woman make about your sexual health & wellbeing and your sex life. The textbook definition is ‘unwanted sexual activity that happens when you are pressured, tricked, threatened, or forced in a nonphysical way.’
Though it can be, sexual coercion isn’t necessarily an act of dominance or an aggressive demand. It can be something as small as putting pressure on you not to use a condom, or asking you to take your pill packet back to back so you don’t get a period. It can be someone making you feel that it’s too late in a sexual scenario to stop. In the words of Amber Rose:
‘“If I’m laying down with a man — butt-naked — and his condom is on, and I say, ‘You know what? No. I don’t want to do this. I changed my mind,’ that means no. That means f-ing no. That’s it… doesn’t matter how far I take it or what I have on,” she continues. “When I say no, it means no.”
Not all of us are as brave and bold as Amber Rose so here are some phrases you can use in situations when you’re feeling uncomfortable or pressured:
1. ‘I don’t owe you an explanation. Please respect my decision or I'll have to leave’.
2. ‘You’re not understanding me. I don’t want to and it isn’t happening.’
3. ‘If you care about this relationship you’ll listen to me and respect me.’
If you feel emotionally manipulated, and it’s an ongoing occurrence in your relationship the first step to taking control of the situation is to tell someone close to you about it. This person needs to be completely trustworthy and loyal to you and not your sexual partner. This person will be there for you, and help you remember why you need to take affirmative action. It can be difficult to hold onto your convictions especially if your partner is gaslighting* you. Your confidant will keep hold you to you decision and provide strength when you need it.
If you fear you are at risk of being physically assaulted but you’re scared that you’ll be in more danger when you leave, perhaps because your partner knows where your family and friends live. Ask a co-worker or friend of a friend to put you up for a little bit whilst you distance yourself from them. Depending on your job and if it’s safe to do so explain your situation to your boss or empathetic colleague on your team and ask to work remotely for a while.
If the circumstances are extreme and you’re in an imminently dangerous situation make a realistic simple excuse and quietly excuse yourself to the bathroom. Run the water and call the police or a family member who can take care of the situation. Please do not attempt to tackle the situation head on, your health and safety are not worth taking matters into your own hands.
You are worthy of a relationship with a person who respects, cherishes and looks after you.
'Abusive behavior, specifically when an abuser manipulates information in such a way as to make a victim question his or her sanity. Gaslighting intentionally makes someone doubt their memories or perception of reality.'