When Sex Is Scary: Signs You’re In A Sexually Abusive Relationship

african american couple unhappy

Domestic violence (DV) is not a new phenomenon. Individuals are generally aware that when one person in an intimate relationship uses tactics to control the other partner in the relationship (physical abuse, emotional abuse, intimidation, stalking, etc.), it is considered DV or intimate partner violence (IPV).

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However, when people think of sexual abuse they typically think of a vulnerable child being violated. Sometimes they think of a predator jumping out of the bushes and assaulting an unsuspecting victim. They rarely think about sexual abuse within the confines of an intimate relationship. But sexual abuse by intimate partners is far more prevalent than most people realize.

It can be a tactic used as a means to gain and exert power and control in a relationship that is already unhealthy and experiencing domestic violence. While sexual abuse may accompany other forms of violence in some relationships, in other relationships it may be the only form of violence.

READ: If It’s Not A Clear Yes It’s A No: Honoring Sexual Consent In Relationships

Sexual abuse in intimate relationships often encompasses coercing, frightening, pressuring, or manipulating a partner to participate in or perform sexual actions that could include but are not restricted to:

  • sexual control and observation, for example telling a partner what to wear and checking their underwear for signs of a sexual encounter
  • unwelcome sexual fondling
  • forcing a partner to watch pornography
  • making a partner be naked when they are uncomfortable with that or unwilling
  • forced intercourse of any kind
  • humiliating or degrading a partner sexually
  • not allowing a partner to practice safer sex or otherwise sabotaging birth control methods
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