Sexual Coercion

The Sexual Violence Not Talked About: Sexual Coercion

Each one of us has been there.  It’s that moment when at school or work, you agree to something that you are not very comfortable with because of feeling intimidated or even pressured and thereby worried that not following along will create or, more specifically you have been told, will create a problem.  Who’s with me? I can see your heads nodding affirmatively.

Sexual coercion is a lot like this. It is the act of persuading or coercing another into engaging in an act of unwanted sexual activity through physical force, threat of physical force or emotional manipulation. It includes persistent attempts to have sexual contact with someone who has already refused.

It differs from rape in that the coerced individual consent to the sexual activity for a variety of reasons. The coerced individual feels it is easier to consent to sexual activity than decline due to an imbalance of power.

Coercive situations may not be obvious, even to the coerced individual. If you’re in a situation where you feel pressure from your date, partner or friend(s), you may be experiencing sexual coercion. The first step is recognizing coercion when it happens to you.

Trust your feelings and your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable with a situation in any way, trust that feeling and speak up. Sexually coercive behaviors are never okay.  You are not alone, and it is not your fault.

Want more information on sexual coercion? Read the ICESAHT brochure on information and resources for responding to sexual coercion here.

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