Protecting and respecting boundaries
Your boundaries tell you what is acceptable for you in a relationship or in contact with someone outside of a relationship. If someone crosses your boundaries, it shows little respect. Your integrity may be harmed.
The situation can be about many different matters. For example:
- you do not want to be insulted;
- you do not want to have sexual intercourse (yet);
- you do not like certain kinds of sex;
- you do not want violence.
Someone’s boundaries are crossed when the person does not agree with what is happening and the way in which it is happening.
A “yes” is always required.
If you feel that your boundaries have been disrespected, you can always state this to the person disrespecting the boundary. You can do this at any time. Your partner must respect your choice. Talk with your partner about what you want and how you feel:
- Be very clear.
- Stand or sit up straight and look into your partner’s eyes.
- Explain why you are saying “no”.
- If necessary, repeat your message.
- Do not feel guilty.
- Do not make promises you cannot keep.
Saying “no” is difficult, but it is a way to communicate to your partner what your boundaries are. Your boundaries have to be clear to your partner. If “no” is not accepted by your partner, seek professional help or confide in a person who is close to you.
You may be afraid of losing your partner. Decide whether your partner is good for you, if he/she continues to force you into doing things you do not want to do.
Sexually abusive behaviour
When you are persuaded into doing something by force or threats, it is called coercion. When there is coercion, your boundaries are not being respected. If you are coerced into doing certain kinds of sexual act (for instance: sexual intercourse, kissing, touching, sexual comments, sex work), this is called sexually abusive behaviour or sexual abuse.
If you would like to have intercourse and your partner doesn’t, try to discuss this together. Sex is about more than just sexual intercourse. Being physically close to each other is equally important for your wellbeing and your relationship.
Sexual abuse can also occur outside a relationship, for example with relatives, acquaintances and ex-partners.
If you experience sexually abusive behaviour or other partner violence, seek help:
- Talk to a person you trust.
- Talk to a health professional. Do not feel guilty or ashamed. It happens to many people.
Contact the police if you want to accuse someone officially of sexually abusive behaviour or another kind of partner violence.