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What Is Sexual Coercion

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Sexual Harassment Lawyers Explain Coercion

All across the world April has been declared Sexual Assault Awareness month. The scary truth is that approximately 24 people are victims of rape, physical assault, or stalking in the USA every minute. According to a survey conducted by HealthDay News, a total of 15% of all violent crimes in the USA can be traced back to intimate partner violence, with one in every five US men admitting to violence against their spouse or their partner. But what is sexual harassment or coercion? What can you do if you feel threatened or if you feel that you have been a victim of sexual harassment?

What is Sexual Coercion?
Sexual coercion is defined as, “the act of using force to engage in sexual activity with someone against his or her will”. This force can include the use of drugs, alcohol, emotional manipulation, and threats of abuse. Some definitions include “persistent attempts to have sexual contact with someone who has already refused” as harassment and coercion. Sexual harassment can happen in relationships, in the workplace, or even at social or family gatherings.

What Constitutes Sexual Coercion?
Sexual coercion isn’t always obvious and therefore should be pictured as a spectrum. Some women don’t recognize the happenings as assault and may instead blame themselves for their trauma. In a relationship, a coercive partner is choosing not to respect the boundaries, wishes, and rights of their partner. In some circumstances, harassment can occur at work by an employer or co-worker and the victim may be forced to make a choice between sexual assault or losing a job and the ability to provide for a family. Some studies have shown that victims of sexual coercion often suffer from similar psychological sequelae as those who have been subjected to sexual violence; these can include anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Types of Sexual Coercion
Sexual coercion can be very loosely defined as something that makes the victim feel uncomfortable and that is done against their will or request. Sexual coercion can be, but is not limited to: verbal, emotional, or social. Verbal sexual coercion includes the use of words to manipulate or intimidate someone into sexual favors. Verbal coercion can extend from flattery and begging to arguing and threats and can include statements like, “Don’t be a prude”, or “you know you want it”. Emotional coercion can be exploiting of relationships, i.e. trust and intimacy, or insecurities to force consent. “Don’t you love me?” or “prove your love to me”, and “if I don’t get it from you, I’ll get it from someone else” all constitute forms of emotional coercion.

What Can You Do in These Situations?
Know your boundaries. Make sure you know where your limits are and establish these with your partner.
Speak Up. If you feel like someone is pushing you to do something you feel uncomfortable with, say so.
Respect yourself and respect your partner’s rights; remember that you have control over your body and your relationship. Know the signs of sexual coercion, be prepared and never be afraid to assert yourself. You can contact sexual harassment lawyers to report coercion and sexual harassment and they will take you through the necessary steps to regain control of the situation.

If you have said, “yes” when you really did not want to, feel like you have been sexually coerced, or if you have any questions about sex, consent, coercion, or sexual harassment, contact our sexual harassment lawyers today.


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