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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wilfrid Laurier chapter.

Sexual coercion is a form of sexual assault that is very difficult to sometimes pinpoint and understand. Sexual coercion can be defined as being pressured, guilted, manipulated or threatened into any unwanted sexual activity without physical force. Sometimes it’s difficult to process and understand what sexual coercion is and how to recognize it. It’s important to discuss how to identify sexual coercion, ways to respond to sexual coercion and ways we can also heal from it.  

Recognizing sexual coercion can be difficult depending on the situation and who it may come from. In my own personal experience, it was hard recognizing sexual coercion because I didn’t know what it was. It wasn’t until months later that I learned from others what it was. Some instances of sexual coercion can look like: 

“If we don’t have sex, I’ll tell people _____”  

Or even a more subtle example would be, 

“We’ve been hanging out so often, don’t you think it’s time to…” 

Sexual coercion comes in many ways and forms and often leaves you feeling like you were guilted or pressured into doing something you didn’t want. This is a form of sexual assault and is not okay. Sexual coercion can happen even in relationships. Emotional manipulation is never okay in any type of relationship.  

If you ever feel like you are being pressured or manipulated into having any sexual activity with anyone, here are a few responses to anyone who may be adamant or repeatedly asking for sex or sexual acts. 


“I’m not in the mood right now” 

“I’m not comfortable with doing this, please don’t ask me again” 

“I’m leaving” 

Sometimes it’s difficult to come up with responses in the moment, but it is not consent if you are being pressured. I’ve been in situations where it was difficult to directly say no, instead I used terms or responses like: 

“I’m really tired so I’m going to head home” 

“I’m not really ready for something like this” 

“Maybe another time” 

As soon as I’m out of that situation and somewhere safe, I let that person know via text or call that what they did was not okay and take steps to cut them out of my life. In a personal situation, I dealt with sexual coercion with a previous partner. I let them know that what they did wasn’t okay and took a break from that relationship. It’s difficult navigating sexual coercion and how to deal with it. Understanding that consent only counts if you give it, and consent can be revoked at any time helps.  

As someone who has experienced sexual coercion, I found it really difficult to deal with and understand what happened. I blamed a lot of my trauma on myself which caused me to not move on from what happened. This also led to a lot of trust issues and insecurities when it came to sex and anything sexual. A great way that helped me heal was going to sexual assault counselling. Many hospitals and centers offer sexual assault counselling to help you heal. Waterloo and WLU also offer many great services. 

Sexual Assault Counselling Servies (SASC) is an amazing center for those who are victims to sexual violence, abuse or assault. It is easy to apply and join the waiting list as they have both group and individual counselling. As well as Laurier’s own Instagram page @consentisgolden is a great platform that offers some great posts to help educate on SA awareness. They also post and offer many information sessions on various topics that are all on Zoom. I have found them really helpful and informative since I’ve followed. 

There are also many movements and social media pages that post excellent advice and information on sexual assault and coercion. Accounts like @niceforwhatmvmt and @iamempwr are amazing at sharing information on SA and offer a lot of advice on how to heal.  

It is important to understand and establish that sexual coercion is not your fault. Your feelings and trauma will always be valid no matter what the situation was. Everyone’s experience is real and matters. Boundaries should always be respected no matter what.  

Her Campus at Wilfrid Laurier University