A Short Guide to Recognizing Sexual Coercion 


In a healthy relationship built on trust and safety, there is no space for guilt, threats, or being manipulated into doing anything you don’t want to do, even if it’s with your life-long partner.

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Sexual coercion can be hard to define and recognize, but being able to realize when it's happening is important for your ability to protect yourself and be in control of your own decisions.

Defining Sexual Coercion: This term refers to any unwanted sexual activity that you feel pressured into in a nonphysical way. It makes you feel like you owe sex to someone.

Here are some examples of what sexual coercion can look and sound like.

“It’s just sex. It’s not a big deal. Don’t be a prude.”

Some people may use societal pressures to make you feel like there’s something wrong with you. Having sex is your choice and your choice only.

It's crucial to understand that there's nothing wrong with setting boundaries that align with your comfort and values. Dismissing your preferences as "prudish" is a form of manipulation that undermines your autonomy.

“I’m really lonely, and I need you.”

Some partners may use their emotions to manipulate you into having sex with them. 

While it's natural to want to support your partner emotionally, we have to recognize that we are not responsible for their emotional well-being. Consent should always be freely given and not tied to feelings of guilt or obligation. You have the right to prioritize your own emotional well-being and boundaries.

“It’s fine.” + denying affection

This is an extremely harmful way to make you feel like your choice to not have sex in that moment is hurting your relationship. Respecting and honoring your own decisions and needs is far more important in the long run.

Communicate openly and honestly with your partner about your boundaries and explain the effects and significance of their actions, if they’re not aware of them.

“It’s up to you. But don’t blame me when I go to someone else.”

Playing into your fears or trying to make you feel insecure to manipulate you into having sex is a form of sexual coercion. Remember this is not about you or your value as a partner. Your worth as a partner is not defined by your willingness to engage in sexual activity.

Healthy relationships are built on mutual consent and respect, not fear or manipulation.

“You need to prove that you love me.”

There are so many other ways to prove love, ways that make you feel safe, respected, and valued, while making your partner feel loved. You get to decide what these ways are.

In a loving and respectful partnership, both parties should feel empowered to explore and define their love languages, expressing love in ways that make both of them feel cherished and secure.

“You look so good. I can’t keep my hands off of you.”

It’s unfortunately very common for people to try to coerce you into having sex with over-the-top compliments. You’ll recognize when someone is using this method if you say “no” and they immediately withdraw affection and reverse their compliments.

Compliments should always be genuine and respectful, never used as a tool for coercion.


It's not consent if you say yes because you’re afraid to say no.

Your body is yours, and it’s up to you to define your boundaries and protect yourself.

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