Am I being pressured into having sex? Am I doing this willingly? There comes a time when it becomes of utmost importance for an individual to take the time and ask himself or herself these questions. And once an answer is obtained, if it’s in the affirmative, more than anything else, the next step should be making it stop; that is; taking necessary steps to do something about it. This article discusses what it means, how to know if you are a victim and most importantly, how you can effectively deal with the situation.
There is a reason why this issue is one that is regarded as being very tricky. Is it possible to be pressured without even realising it? Of course, yes. How can one be in a situation where he or she doesn’t realise it or realises it but is totally helpless? It is because it happens in a totally different manner from sexual assault in which it usually more physical. However, one factor that is common to both is the fact that there is usually no consent.
Many times, It is believed that only females ever find themselves in situations like this where they feel taken advantage of but it will interest you to know that as popular as it may be, it is not always the case as men can also be taken advantage of- either by being pressured or assaulted.
Is there a term for the act of being pressured into having sex?
Being pressured into having sex can be represented in several ways but the actual term is sexual coercion. Sexual Coercion is an unwanted sexual activity that happens when you are pressured, tricked or threatened in a non-physical way. Did you observe the last two words; “Non-physical way?” I believe it explains the reason why anyone in this situation may be confused and unable to think clearly at some point. It happens!
So, how do you know if you are a victim of sexual coercion?
- They wear you down by asking repeatedly: In this case you clearly refuse initially but they keep asking for it. They ignore your decision and ask you continuously to the point where you become frustrated, tired and everything in between. The next thing you realise is you are doing something that doesn’t sit well with you for these reasons. They just never listen to you
2. They just go ahead even when you say no: This is similar to the first point mentioned above but it is actually different and I’ll explain why. With the first, they ask you repeatedly until you finally give in while in this situation, they just go ahead and because you are probably in a relationship you will not fight back but go through with it. It is a case of sexual coersion because it wasn’t your intention!
3. They make you feel guilty for not wanting sex: In this situation, they say things that make you feel guilty.Things like; “You make me feel like I’m the only one who is in love in this relationship, I don’t think you love me because if you did, this wouldn’t be a problem, We are in a relationship and I know I am not asking for too much because this is what partners do.” You seem to have made up your mind but after hearing all these, your heart is touched and somehow you think to yourself what this person is saying is the truth and you give in.
4. They make you feel like you owe them sex: While some may try to use other deceptive means, some others are very blunt. They put it to you that you owe them sex. They may have done you a favor once or maybe repeatedly. You really do not want it but after hearing them say; “You cant do this one thing even after all I’ve done for you,” “I take care of all your needs and this is what I get ” and at that point, it begins to feel like you really owe this person sex maybe because without him or her, you really can’t do a lot for yourself. You definitely are being coerced!
5. They threaten you: Someone threatens you with your job, career, or even the relationship, saying things like; I don’t think this relationship can continue if you continue behaving this way. They may also threaten to spread rumours about you if you refuse which is a form of blackmail. The first two usually will happen with an authority figure- It could be your boss, manager, landlord or even your lecturer if you are a student and when you sit back and think of the consequences, the option of having sex feels easier even if you dont want it. Also, you just may have a lineup of responsibilities tied to the job and if you ever lose it, it’s back to square one.
6. They refuse your choice of contraception: I strongly believe that before you made the choice to go on a particular kind of contraception, you thought about several reasons including your safety. You may have chosen to use a condom because it’s not about just preventing a pregnancy for you but sexually transmitted diseases as well. If they refuse to see reasons with you and either go ahead without it or use it for a while after which they discard it and continue, it is a case of sexual coercion. You may have agreed to engage in sexual activity with this person but it definitely wasn’t how you wanted it.
I believe you now know what this is and how to know if one is a victim, now let’s move to the solution in detail.
How do you deal with this situation?
- You have to communicate clearly the reason why you do not want to have sex: You didn’t just choose not to have sex out of the blues. You definitely have a reason why you don’t want to be in a sexual relationship at this time. That reason shouldn’t just be in your mind, it should be communicated.
It may be because you don’t think you are ready, especially with the consequences that may arise; pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections etc. or your religious belief; you just want to wait till marriage- whichever it is, these reasons are very valid and ought to be taken into consideration by your partner. You are probably thinking; what if it results in a breakup. A partner who really cares about you will go nowhere. He or she will listen to you if they love you that much. You don’t have to compromise and be unhappy! If you are not happy in the relationship, then what’s the point of being in the relationship afterall?
2. Say No and be firm about it: I know you’ve heard many people joke about this saying in this case “No” could mean “Yes.” You don’t want your refusal to be perceived as weak or having your partner think you are playing hard to get and probably want some more cajoling. So you want to avoid saying things like; “I’m not sure I want to do this, can you please stop” in the weakest tone. Many times, it’s best to say No and walk out of the situation because you may get responses that tempt you to want to give in like; “I can’t stop now, I am already aroused, I am going to have blue balls or aches”.
PS: You should also know that although blue balls may be uncomfortable, it doesn’t last long and sex isn’t the solution. In this case, it is best for you to say a firm resounding No and walkout.
3. Know when to walk away: If a partner can threaten you about the continuity of your relationship as a result of your unwillingness to have sex, such a partner is good as gone anyway. This is to point to the fact that it is important for one to be true to him/herself and not to live in self-denial. A partner who truly cares about you, will always listen and act accordingly, I mean they will practically do anything to be able to continue to have you in their lives.
So if refusing to have sex with your partner has the potential of causing recurrent friction in the relationship, then you should be bold enough to walk out of such a relationship. This may seem difficult at the beginning but as time goes by, you will realise it’s for the best-anything to maintain your sanity and keep your mental health in check.
4.Report to the authorities: In a case where you have someone threaten you with your job, career or family, your best bet will be to report to appropriate authorities or agencies. There will always be one around you set up for this purpose. As a matter of fact, there are provisions for penalties to acts of this kind in Nigerian law. It is not just in the books, you can get justice!
Have you read our sexual health series yet?
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