Is Sexual Coercion a Crime?

Were you coerced into sexual activity of any type? If so, you may be suffering both physically and emotionally. By understanding what happened to you, as well as knowing about the laws in the State of California, you can make educated decisions on how to best move forward. A reputable sexual harassment and abuse attorney can help you to better assess your options.

Knowledge Is Power

What Is Sexual Coercion?

Without a doubt, some concepts are difficult to grasp. And coercion of any type is clearly one of them. When the coercion is sexual in nature, even more questions may arise. To help clarify, it makes sense to understand the definition of sexual coercion.

In short, sexual coercion is the use of nonphysical manipulation, threats, or pressure for sexual behaviors or acts.

If you have experienced something like this, you may be the victim of sexual coercion.

Examples of Sexual Coercion

Sexual coercion takes many forms and can occur under the broadest array of circumstances. Below are some examples of sexual coercion — the tactics that someone may take in order to convince you to succumb to their wishes – which will make it easier for you to understand the position in which you may have been placed.

  • Threats of a Break Up: Whether or not to have sexual relations at any point in time during a relationship is a personal choice. If your partner threatens to break up or divorce you if you do not have sex with them, you are being sexually coerced.
  • Begging: Constant requests and begging for sex, including statements like “you would sleep with me if you really loved me,” can be construed as sexual coercion.
  • Withholding: If one partner has control over things in the relationship or household, like money or use of an automobile, and will not allow the other to use them unless sexual acts are performed, that is coercion.
  • Substance Usage: If your partner encourages you to drink or do drugs so you will have sexual relations, they are coercing you.
  • Guilt Trips: This occurs when your partner tries to make you feel guilty for not wanting to have sex. Repeated comments, like “I really miss being with you,” can be considered coercion.

Of course, there are many other examples. Depending upon the circumstances of your relationship, a host of comments and actions could be considered coercion. It is critical that you understand that sexual coercion is not always loud. There may not be arguing and screaming. In fact, quite often the opposite is true. The interaction may be much more subtle. Because of this, many people are unaware or unsure whether they are being abused.

Anyone Can Be a Victim of Sexual Coercion

When it comes to recognizing who may be a victim of sexual coercion, many are confused, and significant misconceptions exist. It is critical to recognize that anyone can be a victim.

First, it is important to accept that gender does not play a role in victimization. Men, women, and those who identify as both or neither may all fall victim to sexual coercion.

Additionally, those who are in committed relationships and those who are married can also be coerced. Many find themselves having unwanted sex for a variety of reasons, including money. And, finally, sexual coercion may occur in situations of domestic violence.

While sexual coercion cannot be considered rape, it can be considered a form of abuse.

Sexual coercion is not always an indication of a physically violent relationship. However, if you are being sexually coerced, it is a sign that things are not good in the relationship.

It is critical that we recognize that sexual coercion does not happen only among adults. It is a pervasive issue among teens today. It is important that we engrain in our children the conviction that they should never do anything sexually that they do not feel comfortable with. Help them to understand that a person who truly cares for them would not pressure them to do so. These early lessons may also prevent a child from being coercive themselves.

What Type of Person Coerces Another?

Coercion of any type is an act of control. The aggressor wants some type of behavior and may use any of a variety of methods to obtain the actions they desire. Please know that the term “sex” does not necessarily refer to sexual intercourse. In the context of discussing sexual coercion, unwanted sex can include other forms of sexual contact, even including hugging and kissing, or touching or rubbing.

You have a right to refuse any type of physical interaction with another person. And you should not be coerced into any behaviors in which you truly do not wish to participate.

Individuals who tend to engage in sexual coercion may be controlling. They may also blame you for things that are clearly beyond your control. Other traits include being critical and moody. Finally, they may have no regard for your or others’ personal boundaries.

The Legal Ramifications of Sexual Coercion

Is Sexual Coercion a Form of Sexual Abuse?

Quite simply, the answer to this often-asked question is yes. Sexual coercion is a form of sexual abuse. As we know, abuse does not always need to be violent or even physical. When we understand this, it is easier to see how coercion falls under this umbrella. Clearly, the emotional toll of participating in unwanted sexual acts, even if you consent, can be considerable.

Giving honest and real consent is a voluntary action.

If you are coerced, then your consent is clearly not voluntary, and you may find yourself involved in sexual behaviors that you would rather avoid.

Is Sexual Coercion Against the Law?

The State of California does not have a law focused solely on sexual coercion. However, the wording of the state’s laws regarding rape do, in fact, make sexual coercion illegal. Specifically, a section of this law states that “Rape is an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a person not the spouse of the perpetrator, under any of the following circumstances.”  And it goes on to list a host of reasons including some that include sexual coercion, as in “(2) Where it is accomplished against a person’s will by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the person or another.”

The word “duress” is key, as it describes coercion perfectly. In fact, California law later states that “As used in this section, ‘duress’ means a direct or implied threat of force, violence, danger, or retribution sufficient to coerce a reasonable person of ordinary susceptibilities to perform an act which otherwise would not have been performed, or acquiesce in an act to which one otherwise would not have submitted. The total circumstances, including the age of the victim, and his or her relationship to the defendant, are factors to consider in appraising the existence of duress.”

Also, it is important to note that the law also discusses the use of intoxicating substances with regard to rape.

Clearly, California lawmakers recognized issues regarding consent and passed a law that helped to better define it. Instead of focusing on the word “no,” it focuses on the word “yes” and the basis of active consent. In short, it means that the opposite of “no” is not “yes.”  So, if someone does not say “No, I don’t want to do that” it does not mean that they do.  Instead, active consent must be given.  They must say “yes.”  The law is often referred to as the “yes means yes” law.

Gilleon Law Firm: Experienced, Understanding, and Empathetic

Contact Our Team for Help

Are you a victim of sexual coercion? If so, you may be experiencing, or have experienced, a broad range of emotions. Anger, fear, frustration, and a sense of violation are just a few. The trauma of the abuse to which you were subjected can be considerable. Sexual activity should be enjoyed by both participants, and nobody should ever feel pressured to do something they don’t want to do.

Many of our clients have said that they were initially hesitant to contact us because they consented to sex. They didn’t believe they had any recourse. However, if you were under duress at the time of the act, then you may have a case for sexual assault. As such, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your physical and emotional injuries.

Our experienced attorneys at Gilleon Law Firm will listen to your story and share advice and counsel on how best to proceed. We believe not only that yes means yes, but also that yes only means yes when consent is provided actively and freely. Nobody should be forced, bullied, or coerced into doing anything.  Contact our team today at (800) 408-2857 for help in filing your lawsuit. We understand and appreciate the difference between consent and coercion.