I never knew this was called coercion- I was urgently pressed to stay the night at a lady’s house who newly hired me as a babysitter to her 8 year old son. This woman spent months being my friend, gaining my trust, allowing me to vent about my dysfunctional home life. I thought of her as a trusted confidant, whom I could trust as a mother figure to me. She gently overrode my thought processes by repeatedly reminding me that I can talk to her about anything. Within a few months of gaining my trust and learning all about my home life, she drugged my drink at her kitchen table and offered me a place to lie down and then she and her husband forcefully raped me all night. I had just turned 14 years old.
I never knew coercion was- befriending a man who was 23 years old when I was a teenager, who unavoidably pressed me to give in and give him sex when I didn’t want to. I trusted a girlfriend who led me to a house, where I was left at. Alone and not sure when she was coming back, I was coerced to give in, and I froze up and did what I didn’t want to because I was more scared to think what might happen to me if I had chosen to fight. A week later, I found out he was a pimp who ended up in jail for attempted murder.
Coercion is not consent. Coercion is the use of express or implied threats of violence or reprisal, or other intimidating behavior that puts a person in fear of the consequences in order to compel the person to act against their will. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). In addition, some synonyms for coercion are; intimidate, pressure, repetitiously enchant, unavoidably press, strong-arm, browbeating, threaten, constrain, bully. All of these are synonyms for the word- Coerce. (Freethesaures.com)
Consequently, coercion is just like the serpent in the garden of Eden who tempted Eve and Adam through a simple conversation. Coercion can sometimes be a person’s words spoken to you and those words replay over and over again in your head, breaking down your moral compass with the end result of making you do things you normally wouldn’t. Coercion is powerful yet subtle, it can also be irrefutable at times, especially when emotions are involved and wearisome. The subtleness of coercion can be hypnotically compelling and seductive too. It has persuaded many to believe what was wrong, was really right.
Furthermore, the manipulative deception of coercion causes some to trust in people who have alternative motives for them.
I never knew coercion was the culprit who broke down my moral beliefs and strong armed me into a life of sex trafficking and prostitution for many years.
Even when I had the freedom to leave, coercion reminded me of how limited my choices appeared… so I stayed.
Today, I am grateful I know the truth.
Jean Nidetch said it best when she said; “It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny.”
The power to choose is mine. My body is mine and I hold the power to choose. I have a freedom today I never knew was possible. To know that I have the power to choose, even when it looks like there is no choice available, I have come to know that is a subtle lie- there is always a better choice. It may seem hard, but the power to choose is truly mine, and I can choose differently.