Understanding Trauma & Violence


Is it considered sexual abuse if someone started touching me without asking for verbal consent, and I reciprocated only because I felt that's what they expected and that I had to respond? I didn't really want to, but I felt obligated to participate.


Thank you for sharing this difficult experience and for having the courage to seek clarity. Your question is not uncommon and touches on important aspects of consent and sexual abuse.

In situations like the one you've described, where there was no verbal consent and you felt obligated to reciprocate even though you didn't really want to, this could indeed be considered a form of sexual abuse or coercion. Consent should always be enthusiastic, ongoing, and freely given - not something you feel pressured into or obligated to provide.

It's important to understand that sexual abuse doesn't always involve explicit force or verbal threats. Feeling unable to say no or feeling that you "have to" participate are signs that true consent was absent. Your body's response or your decision to reciprocate in the moment doesn't negate the lack of initial consent or the pressure you felt.

Many survivors have similar experiences and struggle with feelings of confusion or self-doubt afterwards. It's common to freeze or comply in these situations as a survival mechanism. This doesn't mean you consented or that what happened was okay.

Your feelings about this experience are valid, whatever they may be. It's okay if you're unsure how to label what happened or if your feelings about it are complex or changing. Healing from such experiences is a personal journey, and there's no "right" way to feel or respond.

If you're struggling with this memory or its impacts, consider reaching out to a counselor or therapist who specializes in sexual trauma. They can provide a safe space to process your feelings and help you develop coping strategies.

Remember, you're not alone in this. Many people have grappled with similar experiences. It's okay to take time to process your feelings and to seek support if you need it. Your well-being is important, and you deserve to feel safe, respected, and in control in all your interactions. Thank you for reaching out to us. You are not alone.

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