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Sexual Abuse in Relationships

When many people hear the phrase sexual abuse, they imagine physical altercations such as domestic violence. They may also imagine sexual assault or rape committed by strangers.

When many people hear the phrase sexual abuse, they imagine physical altercations such as domestic violence. They may also imagine sexual assault or rape committed by strangers. You may not realize that you can experience the crime of sexual abuse within a relationship, committed by your partner, under the official definition of this offense.

What Defines Sexual Abuse in a Relationship?

Sexual abuse in relationships refers to a pattern of behaviors used to manipulate, control or influence an intimate partner sexually to have power over that person. It may or may not involve physical abuse or other types of abuse. It can refer to any unwanted or nonconsensual sexual contact with you by your romantic or sexual partner.

If your partner pressures, coerces or forces you to perform a sexual act that you do not want to, this is sexual abuse. Just because you are in an intimate relationship with a person does not give him or her the right to abuse you sexually, physically or emotionally. Sexual abuse by your partner is still a crime and will still give you the right to file a lawsuit in California.

Examples and Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse in Relationships

Many different specific actions and behaviors can constitute sexual abuse within a relationship under California law. The official definition of sexual assault is found in California Penal Code Section 243.4. The legal definition is touching the intimate parts of another person against that person’s will, while he or she is unlawfully restrained, and for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification or abuse.

Many victims find it difficult to apply the definition of sexual assault to their own intimate relationships. However, if you experience any of the following, you may be the victim of sexual assault or abuse by your partner:

  • Sexual abuse in conjunction with emotional, mental or physical abuse
  • Using fear, shame, guilt, threats, manipulation or intimidation to force you to have sex
  • Forcing you to dress in a sexual way
  • Using sex as a tool to exhibit power and/or control
  • Taking out anger or frustration with you during sex
  • Forcing you to have sex when you have not given your consent
  • Holding you down or restraining you during sex
  • Forcing or coercing you to do something you are not comfortable with
  • Demanding sex when you are tired, sick or injured
  • Ignoring your feelings when it comes to sex
  • Marital rape or drug-facilitated sexual assault

Regardless of age, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or relationship status, you may be the victim of sexual abuse in your relationship if you have experienced any of these examples or warning signs.

What To Do if You Are Experiencing Sexual Abuse in Your Relationship

No one should have to live with sexual abuse. If you have suffered sexual, physical, emotional, verbal, psychological or financial abuse by your partner, you have legal rights. Take certain steps to protect them, including:

  1. Confiding in a trusted friend or family member for assistance getting you safely out of the violent or abusive relationship.
  2. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) for professional help.
  3. If you can, document the incident by writing what happened down in as much detail as you can remember.
  4. If you wish to obtain a sexual assault forensic exam to collect your partner’s DNA for a criminal case – or if you have any physical injuries – go to a hospital immediately.
  5. Call a sexual abuse lawyer to discuss your civil rights. Your partner may be financially responsible for your related losses, including physical pain, emotional distress, lost wages and medical bills through a personal injury claim.

For a free, private consultation about sexual abuse in your relationship, please call (855) 945-0801 to speak to a Los Angeles sexual abuse attorney today. At Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, we hold all case reviews in the strictest of confidence. You will be under no obligation to hire us. We can help you identify sexual abuse by your partner, get answers to your legal questions and file a civil claim, if applicable. Contact us today.

Manly, Stewart & Finaldi is regarded as America's leading law firm for sexual abuse cases. As a firm that exclusively handles sexual abuse cases, our California law firm offers experienced representation to obtain justice for sexual abuse survivors, harassment, and discrimination.

Learn more about Manly, Stewart & Finaldi.