Warning: This post deals with coercive control and may be triggering for some people.
I was young, isolated and at home with a baby. My partner was often home late from work and out on the weekends ‘with the boys’.
Needless to say, I was exhausted.
I felt like a single mum on most days.
There was little to no affection or appreciation from my partner towards me, so unsurprisingly I wasn’t feeling particularly interested in having sex with him.
However, he expected it; throwing tantrums at times when I would say no, punching the bed and making accusations:
“No wonder I’m never home, THIS is why I stay out so late.”
“You wonder why I watch so much porn.”
This pattern of blaming and guilting me into sex had started earlier on, in our teens, where he would use non physical tactics to get what he wanted:
“If you loved me, you would do it.”
“Other girls are doing it, don’t be so boring.”
The insinuated threat of him cheating on me, giving me the silent treatment for days, or the situation escalating into a full blown argument is what made this behaviour ‘effective’.
I would ‘give in’ to sex out of fear and guilt.
Watch: Women And Violence: The Hidden Numbers
It’s a scenario a lot of women are all too familiar with.
Unfortunately, it’s also one we often don’t recognise for what it is: sexual coercion. I know I didn’t.
I didn’t realise what was happening as I had been conditioned to believe men were OWED sex in a relationship - no matter how bad the relationship was, or whether I was having my own needs met both in and out of the bedroom.
Personally, this guilt and shame had deep roots for me, having started from around eight years old after a traumatic incident.
Although my family took immediate steps to protect me and I received counselling, the feeling that I was responsible for causing upset in my family never left – they just grew as I did.
I viewed myself as a purely sexual object, and I was desperate for male attention. Even at 10 years old I remember wanting large breasts and my period, so I could finally ‘become a woman’.
Whilst I had unresolved trauma fuelling this, societal pressures and the overarching culture of gender conditioning only added to the belief that my role was to please men.