Warning Signs of Sexually Abusive Partners
Victims may not realize they are in an abusive relationship until it has gone too far. By then, profound physical and emotional damage may have been done. Understanding the warning signs of an abusive partner could save you from what may seem like a never-ending cycle of abuse.
What defines sexual abuse in a relationship?
What steps can you take to avoid becoming a victim?
What can you do to stop an already abusive situation?
How can you get justice from the harm done?
Arming yourself with resources can help you or your loved ones rise out of a pattern of abuse; they are the first steps to recovery. Begin with understanding the different definitions of abuse, learn about the tactics that abusers use, and move forward with getting help, which includes determining your criminal and civil options.
If you believe you are suffering sexual abuse by your partner, call Jessica Pride today at (619) 516-8166 for a free, private consultation to learn more about your rights and options. Your information is held in the strictest of confidence and all consultations are without obligation.
What is Sexual Abuse in Relationships?
When one partner uses manipulative tactics to maintain power and control over the other partner, the pattern of behavior is called relationship abuse.
Abusers use fear, guilt, shame and intimidation to wear the victim down and keep them in place. Perpetrators usually share common motivations such as personal gain or satisfaction, psychological projection, envy or joy from exercising power and control. Abusers search for and exploit found vulnerability in their partners.
Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, gender or religion can be a victim or an offender of relationship abuse. It happens to couples who are dating, married, living together and anywhere in-between. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been seriously harmed by their intimate partner, according to NCADV.
Various types of relationship abuse including physical, emotional or sexual abuse may co-exist. Relationship sexual abuse can begin with verbal or emotional altercations, which may extend to physical domestic violence.
In one published analysis, 95% of men who physically abuse their intimate partners also emotionally abuse them, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).
Sexually Abusive Partners
Many times, a person may become trapped in a sexually abusive relationship because the progression of abuse happens so gradually. A heightened sense of intimacy caused by shame or guilt established by relationship abuse may affect the sexual relationship. It is common for the victim to dismiss or “forgive” unacceptable behavior from their significant other in the belief that borderline abusive treatment isn’t serious.
However, small altercations may lead to a cycle of repetitive, serious harm.
Sexual abuse includes:
- Forcing the victim to dress in a sexual way
- Manipulating the victim into having sex or performing sexual acts
- Insulting the victim in sexual ways or calling the victim sexual names
- Holding the victim down during sex
- Demanding sex when the victim is hurt, sick or tired
- Hurting the victim with weapons or objects during sex
- Forcing the victim to watch pornography
- Involving other people in sexual activities against the victim’s will
- Ignoring the victim’s feelings regarding sex
- Purposely trying to pass along a sexually transmitted disease to the victim
One type of sexually aggressive behavior, sexual coercion, is especially common. This involves one party persuading or forcing the other to make sexual contact.
Sexual coercion may involve:
- Continuing to pressure the victim to have sex after he or she has said no
- Making the victim feel threatened or afraid of what may happen if he or she says no
- Making the victim feel like they owe sex just because he or she is in a relationship
- Giving the victim drugs or alcohol to lower his or her inhibitions
- Reacting negatively with anger, sadness or resentment for saying no
Common Tactics of Abusive Partners
The profile of an abuser is often one of the charming manipulator. Perpetrators who exhibit signs of narcissism use tactics of compulsive lying, gaslighting and repeated personal insults which may make the victim question his or her own life decisions and self-worth.
Abuse offenders use common tactics to maintain control over their victims. These might include:
- Mind games: including guilt trips and convincing the victim that she is crazy
- Denial: refusing to take responsibility for the harm caused
- Minimizing: telling the victim “it wasn’t that bad,” or to “get over it.”
- Blaming: twisting the story so the victim takes responsibility for the perpetrator’s actions
- Making excuses: defending abusive behavior because of stress at work, etc.
- Criticizing the victim: diminishing the victim’s self-esteem by criticizing her strengths and weaknesses
- Inappropriate restrictions: including refusing to let the victim go to work or see family and friends
- Partner sexual abuse: pressuring her to have sex when he or she is sick
- Symbolic aggression: threats to harm a victim’s family, friends or pets
- Over–protection and “caring”: can include dissuading a victim from going out alone in made up scenarios of rape, or worse
If you have experienced any of the above behaviors from your significant other, seek help right away. The sooner you report abuse, the more quickly you can get professional care.
Why Victims Remain Quiet About Abuse
Relationship abuse can destroy a victim’s self-esteem and physical well-being. Many times, victims make up excuses for their partner’s behavior—leading to a never-ending cycle.
So why is it so common for victims to stay with their abusers?
Many victims resort to denial, believing their partner when he says he will change his ways:
“He didn’t mean to hurt me.”
“It won’t happen again.”
“Next time I won’t anger him. It was my fault.”
Other victims stay in a relationship out of fear, low-self-esteem, anxiety over consequences, shame, and minimization of the abusive behavior. Victims who have a history of traumatizing sexual abuse are far less likely to speak out about their sexual harassment or abuse.
Those who experienced previous abuse will respond to sexual harassment differently than people who have not been abused. Common reactions include freezing where the victim feels paralyzed to react. Previously victimized persons are more likely to keep quiet about the abuse because their stories are often not believed.
A Survivor’s Story
One woman’s brave story of surviving sexual abuse is helping to pave the way for other victims.
This is her story.
“I had been seeing this guy for just over three months. We both drank a lot. One night, he got really mad at me and he called me a lot of names, and then pushed me against the wall. I got really scared, but he said he was sorry and he’d never do it again.
Another night, he wanted to make love and I asked him to put on a condom. He said he didn’t have one. I asked him to stop, and he wouldn’t. And he said that it didn’t matter, not to worry about it. At first, I sort of laughed cause I thought he was joking, but then I realized he was serious and I got scared. I told him to stop but he wouldn’t, and I pushed him away, but he pushed me back and pinned me down with his body. He was very strong. He raped me.”
The woman’s life took a turn for the worse after the rape. She dealt with self-harm and suicidal thoughts until she sought counseling and a support group that saved her life. With the help of like-minded individuals, she was able to change her perspective, as she grew in wisdom and personal strength.
With a few encouraging words, this woman has offered hope to countless other women who have suffered similar situations.
“Abuse doesn’t get better if you don’t do anything; it just keeps getting worse. You have to be your own friend. You have to have compassion for yourself. You have to forgive yourself. You deserve better. You are a precious human being and you deserve to be treated with respect. And you can’t ever give up. Don’t hurt yourself. Hang in there – you are not alone.”
Do You Suspect Sexual Abuse in Your Relationship?
Many perpetrators wear their victims down to weaken their resolve. With the right help on your side, you can take a stand against sexually abusive behavior.
If you suspect you are being sexually abused by your partner, these next steps could save your life:
- Physically remove yourself from the harmful situation.
- Cease all communication with the abusive partner.
- Confide in a trusted friend and ask for help.
- Call the police, hotlines and close friends or family.
- If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
- Contact a sexual abuse lawyer for advice.
- File a restraining order if advised by your lawyer.
- Contact a domestic violence resource center.
- Make a plan for safely escaping your situation.
Contact an Experienced Sexual Abuse Attorney
If you are suffering at the hands of your significant other, help is available now. Jessica Pride has helped empower dozens of victims of sexual assault and relationship abuse. Not only is she an experienced attorney, she is a dedicated, compassionate advocate for survivors of abuse.
No matter how trying your situation is, you are not alone and there is always hope.
We offer 100% free, confidential, risk-free case evaluations to help you understand your rights and legal options.
Pursuing compensation for your injuries and suffering can help with:
- Professional therapy and counseling
- Financial independence
- Medical bills
- Loss of income
Call Jessica Pride today at (619) 516-8166 and take the first step toward your healing and recovery.