Sexual abuse within relationships is something that does not get enough of the spotlight when highlighting the dangers, despite the fact it happens to one in five women – and to one in seven men – in their intimate relationships.

Sexual abuse in a relationship is not something that happens quickly, or instantaneously. It is not something that is obvious and can often go unnoticed for a long period of time. It is also not visible by people outside of the relationship, and this is why the figures of victims of sexual abuse in relationships are so high.

Sexual abuse in relationships more often than not start with emotional altercations, with the abusive partner ignoring their partner’s feelings regarding sex, or ‘coaxing’ their partner to engage in sexual activities take place despite them not ‘feeling up to it’; perhaps the partner is subjected to unwanted kissing and touching from the abusive partner, or perhaps the partner had been intoxicated when the abusive partner decided to take advantage.

The abusive partner can use mind games such as guilt-trips or convincing their partner there is something wrong with them, if they do not wish to engage in sexual activity. Not only is this a form of sexual abuse, this is also a form of emotional abuse which is just as serious.

The behaviours can intensify, with the abusive partner making their partner feel they owe sexual activities, just because they’re in a relationship, and sometimes making their partner feel threatened or afraid of what may happen should they say no. It is extremely common for the partner suffering sexual abuse to ‘forgive’ and dismiss this behaviour from their partner, as it is not deemed to be ‘abuse’ in their eyes.

The most common form of sexual abuse in a relationship is sexual coercion. Sexual coercion is not okay. Sexual coercion is still abuse.

A victim of sexual coercion, or sexual abuse, will often take the blame, minimising what has happened. But just because they don’t say no, or don’t resist the unwanted advances, does not provide consent to the abusive partner. Often, showing resistance can give way to further physical abuse, and fear of this is what prevents a victim of sexual abuse or coercion from speaking out.

Sexual abuse in a relationship is still domestic violence, and there are various organisations who can support you if you feel you need help. Do not suffer in silence.

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If you need to reach out, we can signpost you to local support services.

If you need legal advice, again, we are here for you. Contact us on 01522 561020 or email



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