The “Me Too” movement launched back in 2006 shed light on sexual violence, particularly those offenses committed by individuals in roles of power. And while this global activist movement has empowered countless victims to speak out against sexual violence, 80% of rapes and sexual assaults still go unreported.
Many sex crimes are not reported because victims are convinced they “owe” their abuser sex, or they fear the repercussions for refusing sex. This insidious form of abuse is called sexual coercion.
Victims should know coercion is a duress crime in the state of Texas, and justice is possible. Learn to recognize the signs of sexual coercion and what to do if it happens to you.
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What Is Sexual Coercion?
Some forms of sexual trauma do not involve the use of physical force. Sexual coercion occurs when a person tricks, threatens, pressures, or intimidates another person into having sexual contact they don’t want.
Very often, it’s committed by a person in power like a teacher, coach, landlord, or boss who uses their position to pressure the victim into participating in an unwanted sexual act.
Possible signs of sexual coercion include:
- Saying that not having sex will affect or end the relationship
- Convincing you it’s too late to say no to sexual activity
- Warning that resisting sex will affect your home, job, or relationships
- Wearing down your resolve with relentless demands or making you feel guilty
- Pressure to perform sexually, even if sex is unwanted or nonconsensual
- Threatening to spread rumors about you, including “outing” your sexual orientation
Sexual coercion is often troubling and confusing for survivors. They know something doesn’t seem right. But they may question their reality and wonder if assault even occurred, because they said “yes” in the end.
But this is what everyone should know about healthy consensual sexual contact: True consent is always voluntary. If you only consent because you’re scared or feel obligated to the other person, that is not true consent.
You are not required to have sex with someone else. You’re always allowed to say no—and you can change your mind after saying yes.
Sexual Coercion Effects on Mental and Emotional Health
Even if nonconsensual sexual contact does not involve the use of physical force, it is just as damaging as violent sexual assault.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), victims of forms of sexual violence are at risk of:
- Eating disorders
- Panic attacks
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Self-harm including suicide
- Sleep disorders
- Substance abuse
It is so important for sexual coercion survivors to step out of the shadows, seek the appropriate medical and emotional help, and take steps to hold their abusers accountable.
What Is Sexual Coercion in Texas?
Because sexual offense laws and definitions vary from state to state, you may be wondering, what is sexual coercion in Texas?
According to Texas Penal Code Sec. 21.18, sexual coercion is when a person “intentionally threatens” to obtain the following benefits either by coercion or extortion:
- Intimate visual material of the victim, like photos or video, or
- Any sexual act for the purposes of arousal or gratification
Sexual coercion is a felony punishable by jail time in Texas. Repeat offenders may incur more severe punishment, including up to 20 years in prison.
What to Do If You Suspect Sexual Coercion
If you believe you are a victim of sexual coercion, your health and safety should always be your first priority.
The National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) will connect you with resources in your area, including local health facilities that treat survivors. You can also report your assault to local law enforcement.
If you feel a person is being coerced, share these resources and work with them to create a safe exit strategy and report the crime to the authorities.
Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Coercion
Texas classifies sexual coercion as a criminal offense, and offenders face severe penalties if convicted. A civil lawsuit is another type of legal remedy available to sexual assault survivors in the state.
Dallas sexual assault lawyers at Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP, provide compassionate advocacy and support for survivors seeking justice in the civil courts. Unlike criminal proceedings that deal with unlawful acts, civil cases focus on recovering the maximum compensation possible for victims of nonconsensual sexual violence.
We work diligently to hold perpetrators accountable and help clients move forward with closure and recovery. We thoroughly investigate your claim and gather evidence to build a compelling case for damages. Our goal is to prove coercion occurred, and show how it has impacted your life.
Possible Compensation for Sexual Coercion Survivors
Because every sexual assault case is unique, it’s impossible to predict the outcome of your civil claim. Skilled legal representation improves your chance of recovering fair compensation that reflects the physical, emotional, and financial impact of sexual violence.
Damages may include medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, and loss of companionship and consortium. In cases of egregious negligence, punitive damages may also be possible.
Call our office or connect online to speak with a sexual assault lawyer or schedule a free case review with Crowe Arnold & Majors today. We believe you – and we’re ready to help. Based in Dallas, we represent clients across the state of Texas.