This month’s blog post continues our series on The Dominator where we are looking at the various personas and tactics an abuser might use to maintain power and control over their victim. We have looked at The Bully, The Jailer and The Headworker, this month we are looking at The Sexual Controller. There’s no real way to sugar-coat or soften the blow with this one rape and sexual violence isn’t only found perpetrated by strangers in dark alleys, paedophiles and on college campuses, but it is also found in relationships.
For centuries, as well as a way of two consenting adults expressing their love for one another, sex has been used as currency and a weapon. Women are made to feel they are made solely to be objects of desire and therefore their status rises and falls depending on who wants to have sex with them. Armies historically rape and pillage the land they are invading to degrade and disempower the indigenous people. Women have been told to ‘lie back and think of England’ when facing their husband’s unwanted advances and to have sex with your husband is to do your duty.
Some of these examples may seem archaic and hopefully western society has moved on from this. However, the prevalence of porn, page three and music videos featuring male singers surrounded by scantily clad women continue to reinforce the message a woman’s primary worth and purpose is found in providing sexual gratification for men.
How does a Sexual Controller maintain power and control over their victim?
A Sexual Controller uses sex in a way which emotionally manipulates, degrades, devalues, harms, scares and traps their victim. The tactics a Sexual Controller might use include:
- Sex without consent. Whether it’s to your husband or a stranger at a party, everyone has the right to say ‘no’ to sex. In 1991 rape within marriage became a crime and now it is illegal for a husband to have sex with their wife if she does not consent. At SATEDA we speak with lots of women who are repeatedly forced to have sex by their husbands, but were unaware this was rape. When an abuser rapes their victim they are asserting their power and control, making their victim feel powerless and degraded and are physically hurting their victim. All of which serves to make them more compliant in the future. Furthermore, after a violent act or rape an abuser may claim they are sorry, pin the blame on the victim and then initiate an act of tender love making which serves to emotionally confuse and manipulate the victim.
- Won’t take no for an answer. A Sexual Controller can force their partner to have sex with them without using physical force. They may threaten to do something if they can’t have sex, they may pester consistently until they get their way, they may tell the victim they need to do their duty/make them feel guilty, they claim it’s a medical necessity, they intimidate, bribe and threaten to go elsewhere. Eventually the victim co-operates in order to prevent further harm or distress to themselves, their children or wider circle. This may look like consensual sex, but it’s not. Anyone agreeing to do something under duress isn’t giving real consent.
- Harmful sex. A Sexual Controller may make their victim take part in sex acts that they don’t want to or are physically painful. They make them have sex with other people, or in front of other people. They may make them watch porn and then recreate what they have seen. All of these things degrade and destroy a victims sense of self worth, value and esteem, reinforcing their only role and value is as a piece of meat.
- Keeps you pregnant. A Sexual Controller may keep their victims consistently pregnant. Pregnant women, or women with children are more likely to stay with their partner either due to financial/housing security, or because of the guilt they would be made to feel if they were the ones to ‘break up’ the family.
- Rejects your advances. On the flip side, a Sexual Controller may reject their victim’s advances to have sex. They will say that they are unattractive, claim no one would ever want to have sex with them or call them names.
- If you or anyone else is in immediate danger, call 999.
What to do if you’re living with a Sexual Controller
If you’re living with a Sexual Controller we would like you to know you are so much more than an object. We want you to know sex within a relationship should be about both people being made to feel good, safe and satisfied by the other and anything less than this is not ok. We also want you to know the abuse you suffer is never your fault and it is never up to you to get your partner to change because they probably wont. As with all the articles in this blog series we aren’t going to tell you here how to become free from a Sexual Controller because each situation is unique. Instead we would like to invite you to come to one of our Drop In or One Stop Shop Services for some friendly advice, where we can create a safety plan for your and offer you other types of ongoing support if you want it. Alternatively you can contact us here if you can’t make one of the drop ins.
In the mean time, here are some suggestions how to keep yourself as safe as possible with a Sexual Controller:
- If it means stopping your abuser from causing you even more serious physical violence, or threatening your life, then it might be safer for you to ‘give in’ to their desire for sexual activity. This does not mean you have given consent or you have given up. You simply made a choice to protect your immediate safety, which is survival, not consent.
- If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Your GP has to treat all information confidentially and you cannot be forced to report anything to the police. By going to your GP it will mean there are records of the assault(s) if you ever did decide to press charges.
- Consider going to the police to report rape and sexual assault. Even if you do not press charges at the moment, it can be helpful for incidents to be logged for future use.
- Talk to your GP about the best way of protecting yourself against pregnancy and STIs. There are some ways of doing this without your abuser having to know.
- Where and if possible, avoid being alone with your partner, particularly in rooms where sex often takes place.
- If possible, sleep in a separate bedroom with a lock on the door.
- If you don’t live together, arrange for someone else to be in the house when they come round, visit them with a friend, or meet up in public places.
- Look after your emotional wellbeing and consider talking to someone about the abuse. Whether that’s someone you know, or by talking to a counsellor, GP or helpline such as the Rape Crisis national freephone helpline on 0808 802 9999 (12-2.30pm and 7-9.30pm every day of the year), talking to someone could really help.
- If you or anyone else is in immediate danger, call 999.
The important thing to remember is you have a right to choose whether or not to have sex with someone. You have a right to live a life in which you valued by someone because of who you are not what you do for them. You have a right to freedom. If you are living with a Sexual Controller please consider making the first step towards that freedom today.