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Pressure and Persuasion: A Closer Look at Sexual Coercion

Some things are beyond our control. One aspect of your life that you deserve to have complete control over is how far you want to take it with your romantic partner — whether that’s your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, or anyone you’re involved with. You should never feel forced into anything that you’re not comfortable with or don’t feel like doing.

Have you ever felt pressured by your partner to have sex? Have you ever felt guilted into it, or felt like you weren’t able to say no? This is often referred to as sexual coercion, which lies on the continuum of sexually aggressive behavior. It can vary from being egged on and persuaded, to being forced to have contact. It can be verbal and emotional, in the form of statements that make you feel pressure, guilt, or shame. You can also be made to feel forced through more subtle actions. For example, your partner:

  • Makes you feel like you owe them: ex. Because you’re in a relationship, because you’ve had sex before, because they spent money on you or bought you a gift
  • Gives you compliments that sound extreme or insincere as an attempt to get you to agree to something
  • Gives you drugs and alcohol to “loosen up” your inhibitions
  • Plays on the fact that you’re in a relationship, saying things such as: “Sex is the way to prove your love for me,” “If I don’t get sex from you I’ll get it somewhere else”
  • Reacts negatively with sadness, anger or resentment if you say no or don’t immediately agree to something
  • Continues to pressure you after you say no
  • Makes you feel threatened or afraid of what might happen if you say no
  • Tries to normalize their sexual expectations: ex. “I need it, I’m a man”

Even if your partner isn’t forcing you to do sexual acts against your will, being made to feel obligated is coercion in itself. Dating someone, being in a relationship, or being married never means that you owe your partner intimacy of any kind.

A coercive partner may feel that consent is ongoing. However, consenting to something once doesn’t make it a “given” each time. Consenting to one action doesn’t mean you have given your consent for other actions. In a relationship where sexual coercion is occurring, there is a lack of consent, and the coercive partner doesn’t respect the boundaries or wishes of the other.

To learn more about sexual coercion, an important read is our article on healthy consent, or check out The Consensual Project. No one should be made to feel pressured into a sexual act. If your partner acts in any of the ways mentioned, it could be helpful to speak to someone about it. Our advocates at and are available to talk confidentially — give us a call or chat online.


I don’t know how to explain what that means anymore than I know why pretty much everyone knows the feeling.

It isn’t a migraine- but every sound is grating, every touch, everything. For people with PTSD, this feeling often comes right before or after a panic attack. I’ve learned over the years though that it isn’t something only people with mental illness experience.

Things you can do:

        1. Cocoon yourself. They make weighted blankets, and if you experience this often enough(and have the cash to shell out for them)- they’re pretty cool. But if not, get as many blankets as you can and wrap yourself in them. You want a solid, stable sensory experience.  For whatever the reason, the weight helps slow down the racing heart and may even allow you to sleep.

           2, Take a shower in the dark.  Take a night light or something like that in there with you- if you won’t be able to do it in the total dark. Make sure everything is as quiet as possible, and then either take a shower or bath in the dark. I prefer almost too hot water myself. Showers in the dark are great for sensory input, because turning off the lights makes you pay more attention to your other senses, and you get physical, auditory, and smells too.

      3. Going in public? Wear a jacket. If you can avoid over heating in one- that is. Wearing a jacket will help add sensory input- and keep your nerves from picking up every stray accidental touch/whisper of the wind. Also carrying a grounding object in your pocket that you can rub/squeeze can help.

     4. Plank. Or really- any sort of thing that puts strain on a lot of muscles. Personally I like holding push up position, or doing downward dog. You probably don’t want to be doing something that requires you to move/touch too many different things- which is why you want things that put tension, but require you to remain relatively still.

       5. Joint Compressions. Start with your your shoulders- work your way down to your fingers. and then from the hips own the leg to the ankle. They advise doing each joint three times. A lot of children who have nerve issues are advised to get special brushes (they have soft bristles- and lots of them) so that they brush along their arms and legs in order to help calm them down.

       6. Beanie babies or other weighted dolls. Once again, this is something I learned from working with children. I’m not sure why it works, but it has. It’s probably that the weight provides a more solid sensory input- and the fact that it is a doll- it can also be a comfort toy of sorts.

Super fucking important

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