Sexualized violence and sexualized assault aren’t about sex, but about power.
What we mean is that when someone is being sexually violent towards another person, they are misusing and abusing their power. We all have power, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s how people use their power. Sometimes one person has more power than another person in certain situations and if they choose to abuse that power, it can be very oppressive and hurtful. It is a myth that sexual assault happens because someone is so turned on they just couldn’t stop. No matter how turned on we are, we always have control over our actions. Whatever is going on in the moment, we are 100% responsible for our own actions. There is never any excuse to force someone to do something they don’t want to.
A person who forces someone to be sexual against their will is abusing their power. They may use strength, manipulation, guilt, threats, alcohol or drugs or lies to trick or force the person to be sexual.
Some people exploit or use to their own advantage differences in power between people. Differences in age, race, popularity, sexual experience, gender, wealth, education, and sexuality can really affect relationship dynamics. When people buy into gender scripts, it can contribute to power imbalances.
If a person has less power in the relationship, they may have a harder time saying what they want. They may feel insecure about losing the relationship. The person with more power may feel it is their right to make all the decisions. They may need to feel in control all the time because they feel insecure.
If you think you are in a relationship where the power is unequal, you may be in an unhealthy or abusive relationship. It might be time to look at why you are in this relationship and whether or not it is emotionally and physically safe for you to be in. Contact our Crisis Line at 250-383-3232 if you would like to talk to someone.
You do not deserve to be treated badly. You deserve to be treated with respect.
If anyone ever abuses their power against you, it’s never your fault. Sometimes, survivors of sexual assault will question their reaction to the assault. There is no one “right” or “wrong” way to respond – whatever you choose to do in the moment, is what you need to do to keep youself safe. Often we are told that the “right” response looks like shouting, hitting, or saying “NO” loudly. This is just one way that resistance can happen – it will look and feel different for everyone. In an ideal world, no one would ever abuse their power and we would always be respected. We all deserve respect and we all have our own sources of power.