A sexually abusive relationship is one where you engage in sex out of fear. Whether the fear is physical or emotional, it leaves you empty and lost.
When you hear the term sexual abuse, most often you think of two people substantially different in age or positions of power. That isn’t always the case. Sexual abuse happens in relationships behind closed doors often without those involved even being aware. A sexually abusive relationship is where one person coerces another to engage sexually through the use of threat or force.
Sexually abusive relationship – 8 red flags that are easily overlooked
Threat and force come in many different forms. Obviously, there can be the threat of physical harm. But, the worst type of coercion is sometimes mental. Sometimes, someone withholds love to control someone. Not only making the physical pain apparent, the mental scars are forever etched as well.
If you are in a relationship where you do things you aren’t comfortable with or simply for the pleasure of someone else at your own expense, then it is a sexually abusive relationship, regardless of the players.
#1 The sexual activity you engage in is hurtful. It isn’t that some people don’t like it rough or have fetishes that involve pleasure alongside pain. But, if you engage in sexual activity that physically or emotionally hurts you, and there is no pleasure in it for you, then you are being sexually abused.
Just because you say “yes” and are a consenting adult, that doesn’t mean someone isn’t controlling you and using various forms of emotional or physical abuse to make you do what they find pleasurable. If you feel as if you can’t say “no,” then it is a sexually abusive relationship. [Read: 18 signs you’re in a controlling relationship]
#2 What you do makes you uncomfortable. We all feel funny about the way we act in the bedroom. The first time you talk dirty to someone or try something new, you are bound to feel uncomfortable. But, if you engage in sexual activity that does nothing but give you an uncomfortable feeling, then it isn’t what you want. You are doing it for someone else.
Human beings are programmed to avoid pain and things that aren’t comfortable. If you continue to have sex that makes you feel uncomfortable, then there is a good likelihood that someone manipulates or controls you into doing something you don’t want to do, which is abuse. [Read: 14 ways to get your partner to open up about sex]
#3 You fear reprisal if you don’t engage in sexual acts. If they say to you that you can totally say “no” or that it is okay for you not do it, but you know in your heart that they want it and that it isn’t okay if you say no, then you are in a sexually abusive relationship.
If your partner continually talks about something they know you don’t like or don’t want to do, and says, “But you don’t have to,” they send you signals of reprisal if you don’t.
Even suggesting it time and again, knowing it puts you in an uncomfortable and coercive position, is manipulation and control. Both are forms of emotional and sexually abusive behavior. [Read: How to spot the signs of emotional abuse]
#4 You feel shame about what you are doing. If you would be past mortified if anyone were to find out what you do in the sanctity of your own bedroom, there is a problem.
Sure, there are some more private than others. However, if what you do embarrasses you and you worry that someone will find out, then it isn’t something that you want. If you are so ashamed that you wouldn’t ever want someone to know what you do in private, you are persuaded to do something that you don’t want to. [Read: Sexual compatibility – 13 sizzling ways to know if you both have it]
#5 Only one of you gains pleasure from your sexual acts. Sex is something that two consenting adults do for the purpose of intimacy and pleasure. If there is only one of you who finds pleasure in your sexual relationship, then it isn’t about love. It is about abusing someone and using them.
If they are only concerned with their own satisfaction and couldn’t care less if you are satisfied or if they hurt you, then they aren’t concerned with your wellbeing, physically or emotionally. If you leave every sexual encounter not feeling worthwhile or without pleasure, then you are probably the victim of a sexually abusive relationship.
#6 You feel as if you have a secret. Just like a little child molested by their uncle, if you feel in your heart you have a secret that you don’t want anyone to know about, that isn’t right.
Love isn’t about doing things that feel secretive and wrong. Neither is sex. You feel like you hide something from the rest of the world that you shouldn’t. [Read: How to have better sex – 13 ways to change the way you make love]
#7 You feel bottomed out afterward and have very low self-esteem. If sex with your partner makes you feel bottomed out and ashamed of who you are, they use sex to control you. Sex is about mutual gratification. If you feel badly after sex, in your heart you know it isn’t about your satisfaction. You are just an object for someone else.
Feeling empty is a symptom that you are in an abusive relationship. If sex is the way your partner controls your emotions, then you are in a sexually abusive relationship. [Read: Why self-concept is crucial to your happiness]
#8 You feel like the only way to gain love is sex. If you feel like the only reason someone loves you or stays with you is because you provide them a sexual service, then you experience sexual abuse.
Someone who makes you have degrading or hurtful sex and withholds their love from you if you don’t, sexually abuses you.
The only way to break out of a sexually abusive relationship is to refuse to be controlled. If they control you through reprisal in the form of emotional abuse, don’t fool yourself into thinking that it is any less abusive than if they physically hurt you. [Read: How to stop being controlled in a relationship]
Shame leaves scars of the emotional kind. There is a great possibility that the person who sexually abuses you is doing so for the sole purpose of control.
In a healthy relationship, both partners feel loved and validated not because they do what the other person expects from them, but because there is mutual respect and concern. If someone asks you to engage in sexual activity that hurts you or isn’t what you want, then there is a supreme lack of respect.
If you perform sexual acts merely to gain someone’s love, then that isn’t love at all.
No matter what type of twist they try to put on their twisted sense of love, if it feels like a sexually abusive relationship, it is. Period. Walk away before you completely lose yourself.