Betrayal
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Is Pornography Sexual Coercion?

by | Boundaries

The term “sexual coercion” evokes images of physical battering, stalking, and threats. 

But sexual coercion takes on many forms. One of which is the secret use of pornography in a relationship. Karen, a therapist and victim of betrayal trauma, joins Anne on the BTR podcast to explain why pornography use is sexual coercion. Listen to the BTR podcast for more. 

Sexual Coercion = Lack of Consent 

Consent, in a sexual relationship, means that both parties have given an enthusiastic yes. 

When a man has a secret sexual life and has not been completely forthright regarding the history of his sexual behaviors (including pornography use) to his partner, she is not able to give informed consent. 

Any form of porn in your relationship after you have asked for it not to be is a form of sexual coercion. Women absolutely have the right to say what type of sexual experiences they want within their relationship. Women have the right to say they are not comfortable with their partner using pornography. Women have the right to say that they are not comfortable having sex with a man who uses pornography. Then, if their partner agrees to but does not respect their wishes and boundaries, they are not getting consent and they are essentially sexually coercing their partners.

Karen

Withholding Information About Sexual Behaviors Is Sexual Coercion

I discovered that my husband had been unfaithful and it was a slow, leaky discovery. In reality, there was sexual addiction, acting out, affairs, and exchanging of photographs. I did not have the awareness to know the extent of the emotional abuse that was occurring.

Karen

When men withhold information and then engage in sexual contact with their partner, they are committing sexual coercion. A lack of informed consent is rape. Even if the man has not overtly told a lie, he is still committing sexual coercion by withholding important information that would allow a woman to make an informed choice.  

Sexual Coercion Is A Systemic Anti-Woman Issue

Victims begin offering more sex or different sex at the coercion of their partners. Women want to be loved and we are taught in this society that we should be objects. To survive in the patriarchy, we must perform as objects. The better an object we can be, the better we perform as objects, the better the chances of survival we have. This system is exploitative because it uses who we are as women: we provide security, we build nests, and we want to make a safe, comfortable place for others to perpetuate the unhealthy oppression of ourselves.

Anne, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Coercive sex is a societal issue and must be addressed by individuals and communities. 

When men do not give women the opportunity to make choices and set boundaries based on true information, they are dehumanizing their partners.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims of Sexual Coercion

At BTR, we understand how difficult it can be to both identify and break free from sexually coercive relationships. Every woman who has been sexually abused by a partner deserves a strong, safe community.

The  Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets daily in every time zone and offers women the validation, answers, help, and support that they need to navigate these devastating situations and find healing. Join today. 

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10 Comments

  1. allie

    I really liked this episode, but I do want to point out one thing that was said that can be damaging. you said something to the extent of “no one would say to just get over it to a rape victim, like they do with betrayal trauma victims.” and that just simply (and sadly) isn’t true. my husband has been raping me frequently for our whole marriage. we just recently informed his parents of why we are now separated, the sexual abuse and rapes being the biggest reason. I was told to forgive him and basically get over it. that I “have my own issues too” and that if I were faithful enough then our marriage would work out. so people do say that to rape victims and to assume they don’t is naive.
    I do love this podcast though! it is very relatable and informing. thanks for all you do, I just wanted to point out that one misconception.

    Reply
    • Anne Blythe

      Allie, thank you so much for pointing that out. I absolutely agree with you. I’m sorry that I said it that way – I intended that statement to be within the context of the rape that people often think of when it’s a stranger. And the perpetrator is arrested and charged. When it’s someone we know, our husband or our friend, even when they rape us, we aren’t believed. I appreciate you bringing this to everyone’s attention. I’m so sorry about all you have gone through.

      Reply
  2. Debra

    Loved this podcast! Covered LOTS of ground! If only…. we could broadcast it from gy-norm-ous speakers placed all around the World, for all to hear! 🙂

    Reply
    • Anne Blythe

      Yeah, the topic of sexual coercion is so important. I’m so glad you found this helpful!

      Reply
  3. Deeanne

    Loved this podcast..so many feelings of mine which are difficult to express that Karen has put words to. I too wish that this message could be broadcast….starting with the pulpits of our churches and synagogues. Thank you for going to bat for all of us women.

    Reply
    • Anne Blythe

      Absolutely. Most people don’t understand that lying about your porn use or crossing sexual boundaries constitutes sexual coercion. Thanks for listening!

      Reply
  4. Lindy knights

    I have been married 41 years, we have been room mates the entire time. My H is an IA and PA. His fantasy girl is an x girlfriend. He fantasizes about her, and compared me to her. Now he tells me she is just like porn, however he will not talk about her. She came up regularly though out our relationship.We are separated for the first time for seven.months now. I feel I have a right to know what the heck went on. His councilor says it shames him to much.

    Reply
    • Anne Blythe

      I’m so sorry about the abuse you’ve experienced and that his counselor is enabling the abuse. Welcome, we totally understand and we’re so glad you’re hear.

      Reply
  5. cara

    I was married for 19 years and my partner withheld sex. On the rare occasion when it happened he was selfish. I wondered why and found a laptop full of porn. He said it was normal for a man and titivation. He didn’t particularly want a physical relationship. I am now divorced and he blanks me making the last 21 years a “nothing” while I need closure. It affects you as a woman.

    Reply
    • Anne Blythe

      Totally, that’s why we consider pornography use to be an emotional and psychological as well as an abuse issue to the wife of the user. It’s rough. We’re so glad you found us.

      Reply

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