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What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence is any involuntary sexual act in which a person is coerced, pressured, or physically forced to engage in sexual contact against their will. Any form of sexual touch or behavior that happens without the consent of every person involved is sexual assault. There is no certain kind of touch or contact you need to have experienced to “count” as sexual assault. 


Each person’s experience is their own and sexual assault gets to be defined by the person who experienced it. 

What is sexual coercion?

Sexual coercion is the act of using pressure, alcohol or drugs, or force (non-physical) to have sexual contact with someone against their will and includes persistent attempts to have sexual contact with someone who has already refused. Coercion might be used to obtain sex, kissing, oral sex, petting, genital touching, or other sexual behaviors. Coercion can be verbal and emotional, in the form of statements that make you feel pressure, guilt, or shame. You may also be made to feel forced through more subtle actions. 


What does sexual coercion look like?

Ways someone might use sexual coercion: 

  • Wearing you down by asking for sex again and again or making you feel bad, guilty, or obligated

    • “If you really loved me, you’d do it”

    • “Come on, it’s my birthday”

    • “You don’t know what you do to me.”

  • Making you feel like it is too late to say no

    • “But you’ve already gotten me all worked up”

    • “You said yes earlier”

  • Telling you that not having sex will hurt your relationship

    • “Everything is perfect. Why do you have to ruin it?”

    • “I’ll break up with you if you don’t have sex with me”

    • “If you don’t, I will just get it somewhere else”

  • Lying or threatening to spread rumors about you

    • “Everyone things we already have, so you might as well”

    • “I’ll just tell everyone you did it anyway”

  • Making promises to reward you for sex

    • “I’ll make it worth your while”

    • “You know I have a lot of connections”

  • Threatening your children or other family members

    • “I’ll do __________ to your child if you don’t do it with me”

  • Threatening your job, home, or school career

    • “I really respect your work here. I’d hate for something to change that”

    • “Don’t worry about the rent. There are other things you can do”

    • “You work so hard; it’d be a shame for you not to get an A”

  • Threatening to reveal your sexual orientation publicly or to friends or family

    • “If you don’t do this, I will tell everyone you’re gay”

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