One tactic that perpetrators often use to violate consent and gain control over someone is coercion.

In the context of sexual violence, coercion is using manipulation against someone until they give in. When people are coerced, they are not saying “yes” on their own terms. This looks very different from consensual sexual activity.

Coercion is used in many sexual assaults. It can look different in different situations, but ultimately all coercion is manipulation. It can happen through:

  • pressuring (e.g. repeatedly asking someone until they are worn down)
  • threatening (e.g. “I’ll break up with you if you don’t have sex with me”)
  • intimidating (e.g. smashing something when someone says “no”)
  • blackmailing (e.g. “I’ll tell everyone you’re gay if you don’t”)
  • guilt-tripping (e.g “If you really loved me you would have sex with me”)

It’s important to understand that the person was not given the space to freely say “no.”

It’s not that they did not say “no,” but that they could not say “no.”

This happens often and is brushed off as “the way sex is,” when in fact this is sexual assault.