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What Do Sexually Abusive Relationships Look Like

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

If you’re wondering whether your partner has done something sexually abusive, or your friend is showing signs of a sexually abusive relationship, you might be wondering how you can tell.

What Do Sexually Abusive Relationships Look Like

Today we’re looking into what sexually abusive relationships look like, how you can help the victim, and more. Let’s get started.

What Is Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse in relationships is known as ‘intimate partner sexual violence’.

It is the act of unwanted sexual activity between a couple when one party has been made to do it against their will.

They might have also been manipulated into accepting the advances with threats, blackmail, or more.

Sexual abuse can be a one-off scenario, or it can be a part of a long-term relationship. No matter how long the abuse has been ongoing, just one offense is enough to classify the relationship as sexually abusive.

What Does Sexual Abuse In A Relationship Look Like?

Sexual abuse is any act that occurs after you have said ‘no’, ‘stop’, or made any indication that you don’t want to continue with the sexual activity.

This might be in the form of being ignored when declining sexual advances, ignored when you’ve said you’d like to stop halfway through, or other scenarios.

Examples Of Partners Being Sexually Abusive

Let’s look at a few examples of a partner being sexually abusive. These are only a few examples and there are many other acts of sexual abuse out there.

  • Your partner holds you down during sex without consent.
  • You have been forced to watch porn or look at sexual imagery.
  • You’ve had a third party invited into the act when you didn’t agree to it.
  • You have been forced to dress in a sexual way that you’re uncomfortable with.
  • You’ve been desensitized with drugs or alcohol to reduce your ability to say no.
  • Your partner was aware of a sexually transmitted disease they had before you had sex without informing you first.
  • You’ve been pressured to allow sexual photos or videos to be taken of you.
  • You were forced to have sex with someone else.
  • You have been purposefully hurt during sex.

Sexual Coercion In Relationships

Sexual abuse in relationships can also be completed through coercion. This is another word for manipulation and control.

Here are some examples of what this looks like in a sexual relationship. Again, these are just a few examples and can take on the form of many other acts.

  • You’ve been pressured to do things even after you’ve refused consent.
  • You’ve been pushed to do things that have clearly made you feel scared.
  • You’ve been made to feel bad when you’re too ill or tired to have sex.
  • Your partner makes you feel as though you owe them sex.
  • Your partner gets angry at you if you refuse their sexual advances.
  • Your partner warns you that what they’re about to do needs to remain a secret.
  • You have been punished by your partner if you have not done what they want you to do.
  • You are insulted in sexual ways or have been called insulting names.
  • Your partner insinuates that bad things will happen if you don’t do what they want.
  • Your partner refuses to talk to you in a bid to make you feel guilty when not getting their own way.

Does Sexual Abuse Exist In An Alternative Relationship?

What Do SexuallyAbusive Relationships LookLike

The concept is simple – if you said no to a sexual act and were forced into it anyway, then that is sexual abuse.

It does not matter whether you’re involved in an S&M relationship, have an open relationship, or are in an LGBTQ+ relationship.

If you have said no, then consent has not been given.

Sexual abuse in a relationship can involve anyone, no matter your relationship type. It does not change across race, gender, sexual orientation, culture, or religion.

Can You Enjoy Sexual Abuse?

If you think that you might have been involved in a sexual abuse relationship, you might be confused or even guilty that you enjoyed it. However, again, if you have said no and not given consent, then the sexual abuse stills stands.

People can enjoy sexual abuse, but this does not take away from the fact that the act was abuse.

Sexual abuse in a relationship can be confusing, especially if you are in love with the abuser. You might not want to accept that this is abuse, trying to justify the act or even blaming yourself.

How To Identify An Abusive Partner

It’s worth noting that sexually abusive partners will more than likely be abusive in other ways, too.

This could be physical, mental, or emotional. They will most likely manipulate you so that you think it’s your fault rather than theirs.

If you have noticed a pattern of worrying behavior in your partner for a while and continue to justify it, it might help to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you intimidated by them?
  • Do you fear them?
  • Do you feel guilt after sexual acts with them?
  • Are you increasing your alcohol or drug use around them to feel less nervous?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then it’s likely that you’re in an abusive sexual relationship.

Other Signs That Your Partner Is Abusive

Sexually abusive partners are almost always abusive in other ways, and this can help you identify an abusive relationship. Does your partner slap you or physically harm you in any other way?

Are they belittling you or blaming you for everything, harming you emotionally?

They might be mentally abusing you, such as telling you that nobody else will love you except for them and that you are nothing without them.

Financial abuse is a more subtle way to keep you close, by preventing you from being financially independent. This stops you from being able to get away from them.

What To Do If You’re In A Sexually Abusive Relationship

If you think that you’re in a sexually abusive relationship, you need to get help as soon as possible.

It is incredibly difficult to get away from an abusive situation, as it often confuses love and abuse that we learned from childhood trauma, known as trauma bonding.

Reach out to whoever can help you – family, friends, a support group, or even a stranger on the street. Get the help you need to get you and your loved ones as far away from your dangerous situation as you can.


Thank you for reading our article on sexually abusive relationships. Sexual abuse is the act of anything sexual committed after one party has declined consent or has not had the opportunity to give consent.

Sexual abuse can be seen in new relationships, old relationships, and alternative relationships.

No matter who you are or what the dynamic of your relationship is, no means no, and consent cannot be violated.

If you are in a sexually abusive relationship, you need to seek help as soon as possible.

Women’s shelters near you will be able to help find the best resources to keep you safe and away from your abuser.

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