October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. One aspect of domestic abuse that is often overlooked is sexual violence.

What can sexual violence within an abusive relationship look like?

• Using the relationship to guilt-trip or pressure someone into sex

• Using drugs or alcohol to manipulate a partner into having sex

• Destroying birth control, refusing to use protection or secretly removing it during sex, pressuring your partner to get pregnant, etc.

• Saying things about your partner’s body or sexuality that make them uncomfortable

• Touching a partner in any way that is unwanted or nonconsensual

The myth that sexual assault can’t happen in relationships because partners “owe” each other sex can make it even harder for survivors to come forward and get support. Most sexual violence happens between people who know each other, which can include people who are dating, committed, married or in any intimate relationship. We can all make a difference by modeling respect for others’ boundaries and talking about the importance of consent in relationships.

If you or someone you know has been affected by domestic or sexual violence, you can call our 24-hour confidential helpline at 1-800-584-6790.

Nola Pastor

Prevention Project Coordinator

Hope House of South Central Wisconsin