Emotional Abuse & Sexual Intimacy | BTR.ORG

Emotional Abuse and Sexual Intimacy

by | Boundaries

Emotional Abuse and Sexual Intimacy

Emotional abuse victims find few resources available regarding sexual intimacy with an abusive, unfaithful partner.

Emotional Abusers Weaponize Sex

Sexual intimacy should be consensual, respectful, and safe. Tragically for abuse victims, sex is none of those things, because abusers use sex as a weapon. Whether or not they are physically harming their partner, abusers use sex to get what they want, when they want it. While at times sex may feel like it is connecting a victim to her partner, this is an example of an abuser using sex as a weapon to tether his partner to himself, as a form of control.

Emotional Abusers Feel Entitled to Sex

Abuse victims often have difficulty understanding that their body is their own. Abusive men feel entitled to sex and indoctrinate their victims to believe that her body is not hers. This is a difficult concept for victims to work through. 

Because emotional abusers feel entitled to sex, many use coercive tactics on victims. Covert partner rape is a serious issue and is a cause of chronic pelvic pain, trauma, Rape Trauma Syndrome, anxiety, and depression. 

Dangerous Myths About Sex and Emotional Abuse

Societally, many myths are perpetuated through poorly-trained or misguided therapists, clergy, family and friends. Tragically, victims of abuse are counseled to offer their abusers more sex when they are in unsafe and often dangerous circumstances (if not dangers to their own bodies, then to their psychological well-being, which is just as important).

These dangerous myths are:

  • If you give him more sex, he will be more content
  • If you give him more sex, he will be more faithful
  • If you give him more sex, he will be less stressed out and thus kinder to you and the kids
  • If you give him more sex, he will be stop being so controlling
  • If you give him more sex, he will stop yelling and hitting you
  • You married him, so you owe him sex, even when you don’t feel like it
  • Unless you fight him off, you’re giving consent
  • Married women don’t have to give consent
  • Biblically, since you are “one”, he has a right to your body whenever he wants it

Truths About Healthy Intimacy

Women, and all people, deserve safety in every aspect of life, including sexual intimacy. Here are the truths about sexual intimacy that negate the dangerous myths perpetuated by abusers and their enablers:

  • Sex does not stop an abusive man from being abusive: in fact, he may even further harm you
  • Sex does not stop an unfaithful man from being unfaithful: he will continue to cheat on you no matter how often you are having sex with him
  • Sex does not make a verbal abuser stop yelling, or a physical abuser stop hitting: he will keep doing those things. He may stop for a little while to try to bait you into giving him more sex, but he will resume into his normal pattern of abusiveness after a short time
  • Sex does not make a controlling abuser stop being controlling, in fact, it is just another way for him to control you
  • Consent is an enthusiastic yes, if you are not giving an enthusiastic yes, you are not giving consent and are being raped
  • The most common response in a rape situation is “freeze”; if you are not fighting your partner when he is having sex with you, you are still being raped if you have not given an enthusiastic yes. Married women have a right to give consent or not give consent to sex
  • Biblically, legally, and ethically, your body is your own. For any man to claim the Bible as a reason to rape you, is an insidious form of spiritual abuse, and you need to seek safety right away

BTR.ORG Supports Victims of Emotional Abuse and Sexual Abuse

It is a tragic truth that many women who have been emotionally abused have also been sexually abused by their partners. It takes time and emotional energy to dig through the painful realities of the abusive relationship to understand and accept what has happened.

You are not alone: courageous women all over the world understand what you are going through. Attend a BTR.ORG Group Session today and find community, validation, and support as you begin your journey to healing.


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  1. Robin Zimmer

    Excellent article! Thank you for spelling it out! It took me almost 2 years of counseling, listening to podcasts, and reading articles, to accept the fact that I was sexually abused throughout my marriage.
    BTR has helped me immensely! Thank you!

    • Anonymous

      I’m grateful for this article. My husband told me if I give him more sex, then he’ll act how I “want him to” – which is just a decent human being. I’m struggling because I’m tired of the silent treatment and yelling. I just don’t feel safe emotionally being intimate with him. It’s to the point where I feel sick afterwards, but if I don’t give in, he’s gonna keep being mean. How do I get through this? He says if I leave then I’m the one breaking up the family when I know that’s not true.

      • Anne

        Yes, this is exactly what an emotionally and psychologically abusive person would say. Have you considered attending one of our daily online BTR Group sessions?

  2. Dawn Fischer

    We just decided to divorce on June 22. It is now Sept 18 and I am just starting to realize because of something I put in my restraining order that I had been getting raped for years.

    • Anne

      I’m so, so sorry! I’m so glad you found us!


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