Signs of a sexually abusive relationship

Domestic violence (DV) is not a new phenomenon. Individuals are generally aware that when one person in an intimate relationship uses tactics to control the other partner in the relationship (physical abuse, emotional abuse, intimidation, stalking, etc.), it is considered DV or intimate partner violence (IPV).
It can be a tactic used as a means to gain and exert power and control in a relationship that is already unhealthy and experiencing domestic violence. While sexual abuse may accompany other forms of violence in some relationships, in other relationships it may be the only form of violence.
Sexual abuse in intimate relationships often encompasses coercing, frightening, pressuring, or manipulating a partner to participate in or perform sexual actions that could include but are not restricted to:

  • sexual control and observation, for example telling a partner what to wear and checking their underwear for signs of a sexual encounter
  • unwelcome sexual fondling
  • forcing a partner to watch pornography
  • making a partner be naked when they are uncomfortable with that or unwilling
  • forced intercourse of any kind
  • humiliating or degrading a partner sexually
  • not allowing a partner to practice safer sex or otherwise sabotaging birth control methods

Safety is paramount and safety planning may lead to more positive outcomes for survivors. Here are several tips that could ensure greater safety when one is experiencing sexual assault in an intimate relationship:
Have essential phone numbers close
Decide if you have friends you can safely tell about what you are experiencing. Try to create a code word that will alert them to call the police
Review your plan from time to time
Seek counseling when and if it is safe and you choose to do so
Come up with a plan to leave the house in the event of an emergency (pretend to walk the dog, take the trash out)

New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline:
1 (800) 572-SAFE (7233)
New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault Hotline:
1 (800) 601-7200
Resources for New Jersey’s Youth PDF


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