Parents Say

"Knowing this can help my daughter make good choices about her friendships.  I want to be able to point out some of the pitfalls she can avoid."

Liang, father of 16-year-old Ming

Sexual Coercion

Learning the Facts About Sexual Coercion

Most teen women who have had sex say that they really didn’t want to have sex the first time they did it. This is called sexual coercion. These young women say there are many reasons they felt they had to, ranging from physical force to feeling sex was expected of them.

What is sexual coercion?

Sexual coercion is when anyone persuades or coerces someone under the age of 18 into taking part in any kind of unwanted sexual activity.

  • The person may be threatened with physical force or be manipulated emotionally. The person may feel pressured or belittled.
  • The person may feel it is easier to say yes to sexual activity than to say no. There is often an imbalance of power in the relationship.
  • The person being coerced may be a lot younger or more inexperienced.
  • The person using coercion may threaten, humiliate, or use anger to get their way. This person may “talk them into” having sex.

Who is most likely to be abused this way?

  • Teens who have a history of sexual abuse are 5 times more likely to be coerced into sex than those who have not been abused in the past.
  • Among students who had sex before age 15, 4 out of 10 girls and 1 out of 20 boys said they were forced to have sex.
  • Teens who first had sex before age 15 were seven times more likely to state they were forced to have sex as teens who first had sex after that age.

What are warning signs that a partner may be abusive?

  • When there is a big age gap or other power differences, there is a greater chance of unwanted sex and unhealthy relationships.
  • When a person constantly puts down the other person, judges people based on their gender, uses bad language about people’s sexuality, or views violent pornography – this person is at higher risk of being abusive.

As adults we can help teens have happy, healthy relationships. We can help them recognize abuse and make good choices about friendships.